As part of our Pride Month celebrations here at Guinness World Records, we caught up with one of our best-known Adjudicators, Michael Empric.
You’ve probably seen him presenting certificates to our amazing record breakers, rubbing shoulders with celebs, and appearing on big US TV shows like America’s Got Talent and Live with Kelly and Mark (previously Live with Kelly and Ryan).
After 11 years in that famous uniform, Michael has pretty much seen it all.
And he completely embodies our company values: integrity, respect, passion, inclusiveness and fun.
Michael, who’s based in New York City, USA, said: “One of the most important values at Guinness World Records is working with diverse communities and individuals to really celebrate their differences and uniqueness.
“I can say that in my time at Guinness World Records I’ve seen a lot of outreach and embracing of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s a bit of a process, like anything, but I’m proud of where we’ve reached and I’m excited to see where we go next.”
June is Pride Month, an initiative which began after the Stonewall riots and aimed at celebrating and commemorating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride.
At GWR, we’re all about celebrating the things that make people unique.
Michael added: “I think Pride is important because it’s all about celebrating a community who for so many years had to really hide themselves.
“I think one of the best things you can do is to be honest with yourself, to be truthful to yourself and to live in that moment.
“For so many years, the LGBTQ+ community had to really hide and pretend that they weren’t who they truly were and it’s exciting to see that as Pride has spread and grown that we’re able to really celebrate those differences and the things we have in common with everyone else.”
Michael, a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, says that his Adjudicator uniform commands respect, but he sadly hasn’t always been as lucky in his personal life.
Opening up, he shared: “In terms of discrimination, you know as an Adjudicator, I can say that when I show up in my uniform people tend to let me have run of the place, they’re not really going to pick a fight with me.
“In my personal life, though, I’ve certainly faced discrimination, that’s just part of the job. My goal is to always treat other people with respect and the dignity that I would hope they’d offer me.
“Sometimes I’m not going to get that, but that’s their problem and not mine. So, as long as I treat other people with respect, usually I get it back from them.”
He added: “In terms of attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community, it’s changed a lot over my lifetime, so we’ve seen a lot more openness, diversity, inclusion in society, we had gay marriage in the United States passed several years ago, but more recently we’ve seen a swing back in the other direction with the targeting of trans people.
“You know, laws against drag performances in public spaces, the banning of books in the United States, so what I can say is that it’s almost like a pendulum, that things swing back and forth, but what I always hope though is that we’re on a road moving forward to more diversity and inclusion, not less.”
Michael also took a moment to think about the advice he would give to his younger self if he could.
“What I would say is follow your dreams and do what’s right for you,” he said. “I think that’s a great thing to do in general, but especially for young LGBTQ people, it’s so important just to know there’s other people who think and feel like you.
“You may always feel like a bit of an outsider, but I promise you there’s a bigger community waiting for you, you’ll find it someday and sometimes it leads you to amazing places, so that’s my best advice.”
Michael says he’s met some incredible people through his job.
He shared: “We get to meet so many inspiring people. One of my favourites and one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met is Wildine [Aumoithe]. She holds the Guinness World Records title for shortest woman (non-mobile).
“Wildine lives in Miami, she is an active teenager, she zips around on her motorised wheelchair, she loves being an influencer, she does make up tutorials and she is one of the most active and incredibly amazing people that I’ve ever met, and that’s just one of the best things about Guinness World Records.”
He added: “I’ve had the opportunity to go to so many unique record attempts. Just in the past year, I had the opportunity to meet Miki [Sudo] and Nick [Wehry], the speed eating couple, when Miki actually broke the Guinness World Records title for most hot dogs eaten in one minute and the fastest time to eat a burrito in just over 30 seconds, which is unbelievable.”
And of the many famous faces Michael has met over the years, one definitely sticks out.
@guinnessworldrecords Fastest time to eat a burrito 🌯⏱️ 31.47 secs by Miki Sudo 🇺🇸 #burrito#speedeating#fastfood♬ original sound - Guinness World Records
He said: “One of the other things about Guinness World Records is we get to meet people who are already high achievers in their fields before they start setting Guinness World Records titles.
“One of my favourites ever was a few weeks ago I got to meet Dolly Parton and present her with three more certificates, including one for the most country albums released by a female singer and that was 65 which really speaks to the length and endurance of her career.
“She’s really an icon and it was so exciting to meet her.”
You’re an icon too, Michael!
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