|Steve (who calls himself Sean Evans) on right with his role-model, Taylor Lautner, the actor who plays Jacob Black in the Twilight Series. They met during opening day of the third movie, Eclipse.|
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
By Diana L. Chapman
He once went by Steve; He now goes by Shawn Evans to fit in with his latest image.
After winning the enthralling moment to cover the opening convention for Eclipse, the latest Twilight book movie installment that rocked teen girls over intensely good-looking guy vampires – Shawn Evans took his first step into the future he wants:
Hollywood. This comes from a kid who struggled to read and was constantly harangued to play football due to his large size.
“I was really excited that I had a chance to be a reporter for Hollywood.com,” the 17-year-old high San Pedro High School quipped enthusiastically. “The whole day I was just twittering and tweeting about what was going on.”
Hollywood.com presented three of their readers -- who submitted personal essays about why they wanted to cover Twilight’s convention – an opportunity to become celebrity reporters and phone in their stories to the website’s reporters.
Steve, one of the winners, found himself in a tent outside sleeping over night to report on the convention on a June weekend. Unfortunately he had no ticket for the movie’s opening day until a man standing around watching the events offered him his ticket – saying he wasn’t going to use it.
“It was just surreal,” Steve explained; the opening day ticket thrust him into the limelight with stars such as his favorite role-model and hero, Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob Black. The Twilight tales revolved around a love triangle of the most hairy kind when an ordinary human girl, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) becomes the passionate love interest of Jacob, a shape shifting werewolf.
There’s one problem with that: the enticing Edward Cullen, a chillingly handsome vampire played by Robert Pattinson found Bella first.
Steve said his heart thumped like mad when he got to walk with the stars, especially Lautner.
“He’s a nice guy and an amazing person,” Steve said during an interview at Starbucks after the event. “He dresses well. He’s almost perfect. He shook my hand. I had to be calm.”
His conclusions from the latest movie: Bella is stupid, Edward is “too controlling” and the movie is a “hello, it’s getting darker in here” with its grimmer side.
All this was ghoulishly good news to me and should give hope to volunteers who work with children everywhere.
As his “Wonder of Reading” volunteer in fifth grade, I quickly learned Steve had a lot of obstacles to overcome.
The first: he hadn’t been able to finish a book in his entire life and wasn’t going to anytime soon.
The second: his big-shouldered frame and height made many folks believe football was his future. He was begged and plagued to play. Football coaches frothed over him. Strangers questioned him about sports.
But this giant kid –sitting next to me at Crestwood Street Elementary School’s library when he was 11-years-old – had no interest in athletics. He confided that he’d rather sit and listen to fairy tales with his nieces. Or watch another version of the witch T.V. series, Charmed.
OK, sports is out, I concluded.
Three months, zero books and many weekly meetings later, I was beginning to believe that perhaps reading was out for him too. He wanted to chat and talk about television shows he adored. He wanted to quit reading every book we started. He wanted to interrupt every second when we began.
Perhaps his fifth grade teacher was wrong. She had persuaded me to work with Steve -- convinced if she got him into the program, it would be his ticket to embrace reading.
But after three months, we were going nowhere and I was frustrated.
The only thing I knew was that he reminded me so much of myself as his age. He had lower grades than he should have because he wasn’t working to his top abilities. He was so big that he was teased – frequently. And his self-esteem was low.
What book, I wondered, helped me as kid? Finally, I settled on the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
“Oh, I have that book,” Steven said when I brought it up to him. “My mom gave it to me. I never read it.”
But his interest was piqued – especially since it was a gift from his mom. Reading that tome percolated his discovery at last that books can take you anywhere – including to fantasy world beyond a wardrobe door. After we finished it, he was hooked and we moved on to another book. Then another.
Then came another confession from the big guy: “I don’t need you anymore,” he said sweetly one day. I watched him for the rest of year, his face buried in some novel or another, including every single Harry Potter. “I’m on the sixth book!” he’d shout at me gleefully.
From time to time, I’d hear about Steve when I saw his mom. But the last time floored me to hear about his opportunity to report on the Eclipse convention.
So often as a volunteer, you have no idea whether you’ve helped a kid or not. This confirmed for me that without reading – he would never have had this chance. I was also amused to hear that when he was at a family party and everyone was talking about Twilight, he said: “What’s that?” and immediately dismissed it, because “I don’t like gore stuff about vampires and werewolves. But my cousin, Alyssa, said: ‘No, it’s a love story.”’
He started to read the series and loved it. That led him to submit his piece for the contest. He kept following up with the emails until finally he received a “congratulations!” from Hollywood.com, he said.
It’s been awhile now since I’ve seen Steve. But a month or so ago, I spotted him auditioning for drama at San Pedro High.
He got up, his large frame dwarfed in the giant cave of an auditorium, and spoke his monologue without a hitch, one he’d memorized from a television program.
It left me in wonder: what will he do next?