Once upon a time, President Barack Obama was a Senate newcomer with a unique name—and Kelly Clarkson will never forget that.
During a late night interview with Seth Meyers Tuesday, the Grammy winner traveled in time to a moment that is forever burned into her memory—the time she was asked to introduce Obama at an event in front of the Senate. “I just want to emphasize that not anyone out of Chicago knew who he was,” Clarkson said of her first meeting with the future Commander-in-Chief.
Before becoming a new senator, Obama had won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for his new book, Dreams from My Father, and Clarkson was tasked with introducing him since they were both bonafide Grammy winners.
“I don’t talk in front of people, let alone the freaking Senate,” she warned. Awkwardly, the songstress couldn’t remember which Grammy Obama had won, what book he had just written or how to pronounce his not-yet-famous name. “I grew up in Burleson, Texas. There were not a lot of Barack Obamas. It was not a normal name for me,” she joked.
When the time came for Kelly to take the mic, she admittedly “completely butchered it.”I wanted to die. I wanted to fall down and pretend like, ‘Oh, she had a stroke.'”
After the event, Clarkson wanted to apologize to Obama, but she couldn’t find him. “Everybody was like, ‘You’ll never see him again,” she recalled. “He’s running for president three months later.”
The fudged introduction obviously didn’t have that much of an impact on her reputation because Clarkson went on to perform at his 2013 inauguration.
“He never brings it up,” she admitted. “We never talk about it.”
Not to fret, Clarkson—you’re in good company. Here are two more stars who had memorable first meetings with President Obama—to say the least.
Meyers clearly has a talent for getting these kinds of stories out of celebrities. During a separate appearance on Late Night, Blake Lively described how she also got tongue-tied during an impromptu conversation with the country’s leader.
“I met Obama and I had my whole speech planned and he was introducing himself to everyone and they were talking about the way they were going to change the world,” she remembered of the private dinner. “The only thing I could think of was that he had left my husband a voicemail when he was running for president, so I said, ‘You left my husband a voicemail!’ and he was like, ‘Cool.'”
“I was like, ‘He deleted it because you were just a senator then,’ and then I was like, ‘He didn’t know that you would be president,'” she continued. “It was just getting worse.”
While the conversation didn’t go exactly as planned, after jumping through some logistical hoops, Lively ultimately got the president to leave Ryan Reynolds a new voicemail—and to top it all off, an interesting photo of the moment to later share with their children.
Oscar winner Charlize Theron met the president for the first time before appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, but it was the conversation that unfolded behind the scenes that was truly worthy of live television.
“I have this thing that happens when I get nervous that I get so nervous that I will say something really inappropriate,” Theron explained to Kimmel on her return visit to the show after the meeting. “It’s like verbal diarrhea.”
While she’s one of the most respected actresses in Tinseltown, when it came to casual chit chat with Obama, Theron suddenly lost control of her words.
“He like waited to meet with me and everything had stopped around his world to meet me and it was just a lot of pressure and I was really nervous,” she recalled.
After telling her how he was happy to appear on Kimmel’s show because he was reaching a new demographic, Theron responded to the president with this zinger.
“Then there was this pause and I didn’t know what to say and all I could come up with was, ‘Well, if you’re looking for a different demographic, I can take you to a strip club.”
“I couldn’t sleep for like four weeks,” she admitted. “Every time I closed my eyes, I went, ‘Oh my God, I said that. Oh my God, why did I say that?'”
It seems celebrities say the darndest things.