By Kaitlin MacRae
This winter, one Rider student and one graduate are competing for a chance to walk the red carpet at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles and mingle with Hollywood’s elite.
Junior Gina Grosso and alumna Kelly Dixon compose one of the 10 semifinalist teams in mtvU’s Oscar Red Carpet Correspondent Contest, which offers student journalists (a reporter and cameraperson) the chance to participate in the Academy Awards. Winners receive access to pre-award events such as the Animated Feature Symposium, the Makeup Artist and Hairstylist Symposium, Foreign Language Film Award Nominees Symposium, and the Governors Ball preview. The first-place winners will broadcast live from the red carpet.
According to Carlo DiMarco, vice president of university relations for mtvU, the network teamed up with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to “figure out a way to make the amazing event that is the Oscars appeal more to college students.”
“[The Network] is all about creating opportunities for college students, so we immediately jumped on the opportunity,” he said.
Leslie Unger, Director of Communications for AMPAS, said the Academy was looking for a way to reach a different audience.
“We have been looking for ways to reach out to different and younger audiences and we realized that mtvU was an entity that lives in that community,” she said. “We started talking to them about a variety of different ideas that we might partner on, and we agreed that this was one that was unique and might resonate with the college community.”
The Rider community has started showing its support for the duo, which hopes to advance to the finals when voting ends on Feb. 10.
“I couldn’t be more appreciative of the support [everyone] has already shown us,” said Dixon, a former communication major with a track in radio and television.
Although Rider is smaller than competing schools, both Dixon and Grosso are confident that their fellow students’ support will take them to the top.
“I think we could be at a disadvantage for voting numbers being that Rider is smaller than some of the competition’s schools, but our advantage is our tight-knit community,” Dixon said.
Grosso agrees that Rider’s small size isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“At a larger school, someone might see that their fellow classmates have an opportunity such as this one, but may overlook it and not care because they don’t know that particular individual,” she said. “[At] Rider, it’s exciting to see the face of someone you actually know being nationally recognized, and because we have a close-knit community, [it] gives us the chance to rally everyone together.”
Both journalists are excited at the prospect of interviewing this year’s Oscar contenders and look forward to the career boost the experience might offer.
“If we win, it will be both an amazing experience and opportunity to work alongside some of the most pronounced reporters and cameramen in the industry,” Grosso said.
For Dixon, winning the competition would be a great way to break into the entertainment industry.
“[Winning] would be all my dreams coming true,” she said. “Everyone always asked me what I want to be, and I say ‘famous.’ I love the entertainment industry, and since I’m not an actress, I would like to be an entertainment reporter.”
Despite the potential benefits to their careers, the idea of meeting some of the industry’s power-players isn’t lost on them. With the complete list of Academy Award nominees released this past Tuesday, both women dream of interviewing stars like Sandra Bullock, who was nominated for her performance in The Blindside.
“We do expect our grand prize winners to conduct themselves in the same way as professional journalists.,” Unger said. “I think that having the opportunity to rise to that occasion is a great learning experience.”
DiMarco adds that the contest is a “tremendous opportunity” for the students selected to participate.
“We create the opportunity for the students, and at that point we look to the students to seize the big prize, which is getting themselves out there, networking with peers they hope to be working with and hopefully landing a permanent job out of the whole thing,” he said. “There are people at MTV and the Academy that are actually looking at these reels and seeing the ability of these kids… so the more exposure [they] get, the better off [they] are.”
Voting ends Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. Users can vote once each day. The three winning teams will be announced on Feb. 16.