Stepping into Giuliana’s Shoes: My Night Interviewing Tomorrow’s Broadway Stars

Being a broadcast journalism major has opened several doors for me over the past few years. What started as shadowing reporters in the field during a local news internship quickly evolved into flagging down Laura Osnes and Patina Miller on the 2013 Tony Awards red carpet, to meeting and interviewing late night star Jimmy Kimmel. I’ve learned that with the right mix of confidence and excitement, a microphone in hand, and a camera behind me, nearly anything can (and with a group of rambunctious and overeager theatre kids- will) happen.

Making the transition from interviewing last year’s Broadway stars to next year’s Broadway stars was an opportunity given to me during the first ever Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards. As a marketing intern for the Long Center, opportunities have been anything but few and far between. For a job description that includes “press releases and social media,” somehow videography, editing, out of the box blog posts, and television-style reporting and interviewing has wedged its way into my internship (with only a *hint* of begging from me). So on Thursday night, when I (much like every other high school girl in attendance) slipped on my old prom dress, reapplied my lip-gloss, and grabbed that microphone; I knew I was in for one glamorous evening.

The most surprising (and at the same time- extremely obvious) revelation of the evening? While reporters often have an extremely difficult time getting people to talk on camera, theatre kids are definitely not those people. Conducting pre-show interviews Giuliana Rancic-style, I felt like the celebrity as nominees, and cast members flagged me down, ready for to revel in their spotlight (a very drama kid-esque trait, I can say from personal experience and my days on the high school stage, *tear*), enjoy the evening, and provide me with some of the most charismatic, energetic, and fun interviews I’ve done. From pre-show rituals, to hopes for upcoming awards show, to Broadway role models and inspirations, this theatre nerd had no trouble talking to the very kids I may one day be speaking with outside Radio City Music Hall.

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I watched pre-show jitters transform into performance-ready high energy, and later, overwhelming gratitude and excitement as I interviewed the evening’s talented winners backstage in the green room. Each and every interview was different- some winners were extremely chatty, going on and on about every thought running through their mind, and giving me (and eventual television watchers) hilarious and energetic footage that can really only come from a fearless theatre kids. Others, understandably, were still in shock, and many were simply happy to be part of the experience. If I didn’t know better, I could’ve been backstage at the Oscars or Golden Globes working for E!- the professional atmosphere was uncanny.

While working the backstage crowd presented me with a few, not-so-exciting surprises (my 22-year-old self being called ma’am by an 18-year-old, for one thing), I could not have asked for a better, more hands-on reporting experience. The opportunities to combine my love of journalism and theatre really are few and far between, and while the Tony Awards certainly prepared me for the evening, the experience of Thursday night was exciting and memorable all on its own. The bright lights of Broadway shone on the Long Center stage (literally- audience members were graced with video messages of some of my favorites, including Laura Osnes and Billy Porter), and the future of Broadway, made itself known in the talented nominees of the evening (these kids better remember me when they’re accepting their Tonys…just saying). I may have even gotten nostalgic for my own high school theatre days (because when you aren’t around theatre kids 24/7 running lines and sharing mutual nerves over auditions and competitions, bursting out into showtunes at any time just isn’t as socially acceptable, apparently).

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From practicing my “gracious loser face” with the display (*cough cough* REAL *cough cough*) GAHSMTA award (Friends reference, for those of you that haven’t seen every episode 30 times like I have (proud of it)), to asking the hard-hitting questions such as, “Who would play you in a musical about your life,” (deep stuff, ya’ll), the Long Center gifted me an unforgettable night in Giuliana Rancic’s and Ryan Seacrest’s red carpet-ready, award show-hosting shoes. And while those shoes unfortunately had to come off at the end of the night (mainly because my feet were killing me), they’re tucked away in my closet, eagerly awaiting their next glamorous, and reporting, night out.

– Wendi

Originally written for and published on the official blog of the Long Center, Long Story Short.

 

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About Wendi

Welcome to my little, personalized, and (mostly) fun corner of the internet. Whether you're here to read about Broadway, entertainment, or the laughable struggles of a recent college graduate making it out in corporate America, you've come to the right place. I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin (hook 'em!) with dual degrees in broadcast journalism and theatre, and currently work full time as Director of Regional Marketing for Broadway Across America. My weaknesses are chips and queso, Dance Moms, romantic comedies, photo booths, and show tunes. Resume, writing samples (more serious ones...), and my life story can be found at https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendireichstein/.
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