Hiding in the bathroom: How I scored a photo of The Meg star Li Bingbing

I was in the women’s bathroom stall, counting to 100.

It’s a trick I learned years ago when I was a newspaper reporter.

When your competition – folks who want the same interview or photograph as you – is in a cluster, you break free, and go where there’s no one else; it’s the only way to snag an opportunity, snag the exclusive.

I prefer the bathroom as a starting point.

When all the other North American radio hosts sent to Los Angeles to cover the premiere of The Meg were eating scrambled tofu in the hospitality suite, wondering why they weren’t allowed take photos with stars Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose and director Jon Turteltaub, it was time to go to the washroom, and wait, and count.

1 … 12 … 36 … 49 … 64 …

I was in LA, covering the premiere of The Meg – a Hollywood popcorn fin flick that’s expected to devour the box office next weekend when it “opens wide” Friday, Aug. 10. It’s based on the bestselling novel MEG by Steve Alten.

I was one of the first people to see The Meg, a movie that filmmakers hope will make people scared of sharks again.

I was one of the first people to see The Meg, a movie that filmmakers hope will make people scared of sharks again.

Photo courtesy Sarah Crosbie

The Megalodon – a shark that makes a Great White look puny – has been accidentally unleashed, even though it was thought to be extinct for more than two million years.

A former deep-sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) and a crew from Mana One, a deep-sea research lab, must save themselves and the world from the killing machine.

Best known in North America for her roles in Resident Evil: Retribution and Transformers: Age of Extinction, Li Bingbing plays Suyin, a scientist at the lab who’s conflicted about the Megalodon.

Li Bingbing (Suyin) works next to Jason Statham (Jonas) in The Meg. From left: Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, Jessica McNamee, Page Kennedy and Sophia Cai also star in the action thriller.

Li Bingbing (Suyin) works next to Jason Statham (Jonas) in The Meg. From left: Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, Jessica McNamee, Page Kennedy and Sophia Cai also star in the action thriller.

Photo credit: Daniel Smith

“It is a living fossil and she wants to study it and learn more about the past from the Meg. But on the other side, it is a danger to all the other animals and the ecosystem,” she says, in a press release.

“In her mind and her heart, her goal has always been to protect all the living creatures in the ocean, so it’s a struggle for her.”

Radio hosts across North America – including major U.S. cities like L.A. and Phoenix – had watched The Meg and then gathered at the swanky JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live to interview the stars.

Of course, we all wanted photos to post on Instagram and Twitter, but were told by The Meg’s people that pictures weren’t possible; the movie stars had crazy schedules and couldn’t take selfies with us.

No photos of the stars?

Challenge accepted.

… 77 … 82 … 99 … 100.

I emerged from the women’s bathroom, checked to make sure the coast was clear, and then found the Warner Bros. representative whom I’d chatted with during the premiere.

I explained that I’d come all the way from Canada to Los Angeles and my big boss man would freak if I came home without a photo of a Meg star.

It was instantly good news: I was told The Meg’s female lead Li Bingbing was willing to take a photo with me. I just needed to go to another suite in the hotel – and wait. It was a score. In The Meg, Li Bingbing kicks shark ass while being funny, sassy and captivatingly beautiful.

Li Bingbing stars as a brilliant scientist and protective mother Suyin in The Meg.

Li Bingbing stars as a brilliant scientist and protective mother Suyin in The Meg.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

China’s leading lady was happy to take a picture – someone just needed to ask.

And wait.

Once in Li Bingbing’s private suite, I could hear her chatting with reporters, who were doing Meg interviews for newspapers, TV and magazines.

The actress was shielded by thick, black curtains. Her “handler” pushed back the protection to find the radio host who desperately wanted a photo.

It was going to be a bit longer to get the picture.

“No problem,” I told Li Bingbing’s assistant, secretly worried I was going to miss my hotel checkout time.

“I’ll wait.”

Li Bingbing did two more interviews.

I waited.

It was 11:50 a.m. and I had to check out at noon – and fly back to Calgary.

My hotel room was a disaster. I’d lived the messy life since I’d checked in. My husband is a neat freak, who does not like it when I throw clothes on the floor. I took this trip as an opportunity to toss my shoes, underwear and jackets everywhere.

My carefree stance was mega biting me in the butt. I needed the photo and still had to get back to my room, clean, pack and check out.

Sometimes when you're trying to get a "scoop" you have to get away from the crowd. I bet you can't even see me because I camouflaged myself so well.

Sometimes when you're trying to get a "scoop" you have to get away from the crowd. I bet you can't even see me because I camouflaged myself so well.

Photo courtesy Sarah Crosbie

At 11:55 a.m., Li Bingbing’s “handler” pushed back the curtains one more time and told me I could have the photo.

After our photo together was taken – and I’d shown Li Bingbing my picture of going to the Calgary International Airport dressed as a shark – I asked The Meg staff why she’d agreed to take a photo when I’d overheard other requests denied.

Li Bingbing seemed amused that I dressed as a shark to go to the Calgary airport to get into shark mode.

Li Bingbing seemed amused that I dressed as a shark to go to the Calgary airport to get into shark mode.

Photo courtesy Sarah Crosbie

“You came all the way from Canada,” one of Li Bingbing’s people told me.

And let’s not forget about the stopover in the women’s bathroom.

© 2018 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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