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THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME

I thought I was having a pretty good week. After all, I had seen the Backstreet Boys perform live and met rising pop star Mandy Moore in the process.

Yet this experience paled in comparison to what would unfold next: the chance to appear in a music video.

Listening to the radio one night, I heard about auditions for the new Brian McKnight music video.

McKnight is an artist whose music I have admired for a long time. Without a doubt, the opportunity to meet him was knocking at my door.

There was just one problem. The auditions were being held in Toronto, but I didn't catch all the details about exactly where they were being held. Also, not only am I without a car, I am without the legal ability to drive one.

I found a quick solution. Knowing that Brian McKnight is one of my favorite musicians, my mother was more than willing to make phone calls all over the country to find out exactly where the auditions were being held. She also offered to drive me to Toronto.

Wearing the outfit that was supposed to be worn by the well-dressed concertgoer, I arrived minutes before the audition ended and was one of the last to try out.

Despite these obstacles -- and even though I didn't fit the description of the ideal McKnight concertgoer ("an African-American woman in her early 20s"), I was cast as a concert-goer on the video.

Making the video was an incredible experience. I had a wonderful time, even though it got a little repetitious.

Each take, I had to sing and clap along to "Back at One." It didn't matter to me; being 10 feet away from Brian McKnight was enough.

It was a long, tiring process (taking more than six hours!), but I had a great time.

McKnight kept the entire cast and crew going by telling jokes and playing music in between takes.

After the shoot, he stayed to make sure everyone got pictures and autographs.

When I asked him for a picture, he was more than happy to oblige, especially since he lived in Buffalo as a teen-ager.

He also said touring is a "serious possibility" and he will "definitely stop in Buffalo." (A Buffalo concert is likely in late March.)

McKnight's "Back at One (Live Version)" video can now be seen on both MTV and BET.

And if you look closely, you might catch a glimpse of my back!

Elyse Maloni is a sophomore at Mount St. Mary's Academy.

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