Dating back to 1947, the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards were created to recognize and celebrate excellence in the theater. Although not in terms of theatrical performances, displays of excellence are also what landed three Shawnee High School alumni the chance to attend this 70th annual awards ceremony.
On Sunday, June 12, Class of 2014 graduates Ali Reid, Sam Mitchell and Christy Osler from Medford were granted the opportunity to attend this black tie event to work the red carpet, gathering interviews and assisting in the media room.
Reid and Mitchell
After initially applying to attend the Oscars in Los Angeles with her school, Emerson College in Boston, and ultimately not being chosen, Reid began researching alternative ways to secure her attendance at an upcoming award show. During her search, she found she could apply to the Tony Awards to work the press on the red carpet.
Months went by without a hearing a word from the award ceremony organizers, and then, on June 6 as she lay down on her bed after a long day of work, her phone alerted her she had an email. To Reid’s surprise, it was a notification informing her she had been given two credentials to attend the event. She thought to herself, “This can’t be.”
Yet, sure enough it was real, and once the immediate shock wore off, she wondered whom she should select to bring with her. She needed someone who was proficient in working with a camera and audio equipment, and therefore, she knew her close friend Mitchell was the right man for the job.
“[Reid] asked me if I had the equipment to help her conduct some interviews and cut together a short package out of it, so I said yes,” Mitchell said. “We went into it with a ready-for-anything type of attitude, and it was really a once-in-a-lifetime event for someone who isn’t part of that community of actors and playwrights, which I’m not. I’m a cameraman and filmmaker.”
Upon first arriving to the awards ceremony, Reid and Mitchell checked in, set up their equipment, found their spot on the red carpet and began compiling footage and interviews. Together, as celebrities walked by, they would call to them to see if they would do a quick interview. Making this process difficult, many other news publications were also in attendance with the same goal.
“I have always found interest in awards shows. Since a young age, I have watched the Tony Awards and other award shows on TV,” Reid said. “I would want to ask [the attendees] how excited they were to be there and how much they loved their outfit, and now I got to ask the questions I had in person.”
After the red carpet came to an end, the two friends walked across the street to the media/pool room where the winners of the night would give interviews with the media. Reid was given the opportunity to interview celebrities including Marilyn McCormick, Glenn Slater, Alex Brightman, David Korins, Brandon Victor Dixon, Gloria Estefan, Chita Rivera and more.
She and Mitchell also stood before Josh Groban, Neil Patrick Harris, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Lin Manuel Miranda, James Corden and Lupita Nyong’o.
“I don’t think I give enough credit to Shawnee. If it weren’t for the television technology classes and the abundance of opportunities I was given, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Reid, whose ultimate career goal is to someday host Good Morning America. “I would tell current Shawnee High School students that if you want something bad enough, you can make it happen no matter how big or how small the dream is.”
Also in attendance at the Tony Awards, Osler gained admission through her internship with the media relations department at CBS in New York City. At her internship, she was asked to work the Tony Awards by one of her co-workers, a publicist also working the publicity for the awards ceremony.
A full-time student at Boston University double majoring in public relations and journalism, Osler grew up loving the theater, both attending shows and performing in them. Being able to attend the Tony Awards was a surreal experience and one she will always remember.
“I will never forget how gracious, humble and sincere the winners were,” Osler said. “They were rushed from the media room, to photos, to one-on-one interviews, yet every single winner I interacted with took the time to stop and look me in the eyes to talk to me or respond to my ‘congratulations.’”
At the event, her day began six hours before the broadcast event when she first met the CBS publicists and participated in a walk-through. Next, she helped prep the media room and conducted a Q&A session with some the night’s winners. She also directed journalists to their assigned seats as they arrived and escorted the winners of the night in and out of the media room, while also transporting a microphone around the room to journalists with questions.
“I have such a passion for journalism and public relations inside and outside of the classroom,” Osler said. “Through these endeavors, I have learned so much and know I have much more to learn. But hopefully, they will all make my dreams attainable.”