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Ask Gigi: Writing About Celebrities

Is it ok to write about celebrities in your fiction?

Picture of celebrity for advice on writing about celebrities.
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Gigi dives into writing about celebrities and techniques for shaping the POV of a character wildly different from you.


Writing About Celebrities

Dear Gigi,

I am hoping you will be able to help me with a question I have about making mention of celebrities in fictional writing. Would I need to get permission from the celebrity or their estate if they have passed on?

Thanks in advance,

—Permission Seeker

Dear P.S.,

If you’re just mentioning the celebrity, living or dead, you don’t need to get permission. They are public figures, so they can reasonably expect to get mentioned every once in a while. In the sample you sent over, the celebrities appear as part of a comedy show, but they don’t seem to make an appearance to any greater extent, so you should be fine. It would be a different story if you were thinking of prescribing actions to them; say, for instance, that you had Mariah Carey show up at a party, where she bumps into your protagonist and then proceeds to become as much a part of the narrative as your character – well, that would potentially present a legal problem.

Write on,



Point of View Tips

Dear Gigi,

Any tips for writing a POV character who is drastically different from yourself?

—Just Curious

Dear Just,

A lot has been written about this already, so I’m going to give you the broad, overarching strokes:


First of all, be sure you can answer the following question: Why are you wanting to write a POV character drastically different from yourself? What is it about this POV character’s culture that interests you or that you think drives the plot in a way that your own POV (or a POV you’re already expert in) won’t do? You should be able to answer this question in concrete terms, and the answer to this question should serve the narrative over your own ego. (Something like, “It’s easier to get published if my character is Black, Asian, or disabled” won’t fly, for instance.)

Second, should you decide to go forward in the event that your answer to the above satisfies you: Be respectfully curious. That is to say, do as much research as you possibly can. Get to know the cultures of the POV character; their speech patterns; the systemic intricacies that compound, drive, and populate their lives. You should know this culture as well as you know your own before you sit down to write.

Third, you should be reading broadly in this character’s POV already. You should be reading books by this demographic already. If you’re not, and you still want to go ahead, then start there.


Stay curious,