Jay-Z might have humbly answered one old woman’s “are you famous” question while riding the subway to one of his Brooklyn shows in October, but he should have asked her the same thing. A video of the chance encounter has made its way around the Internet and introduced the world to a sweet old woman named “Ellen,” but it turns out that the “Ellen” he met is actually New York artist Ellen Grossman.
Though she’s nowhere near as famous as Jay-Z is, Grossman has made something of a name for herself creating drawings and sculptures in response to objects like satellite photos, topographic maps and astronomy. Though the Brooklyn-born woman admits that art doesn’t really support her anymore, her professional website reveals she received a grant last year and also had her work displayed in various exhibitions.
Grossman has opened up about the run-in with Jay-Z in an interview with The Washington Post. She explains that she read up on Jay-Z after she met him and learned “how famous” the performer actually is.
“I’ve become much more aware of what he’s done and who he is,” says Grossman. “And as I checked him out, I realized, how embarrassing that I didn’t know who he was! There were all these photographers and a crowd of happy people around him, and security people. So it sort of dawned on me as I was looking around that he was someone famous.”