First of all, THANK YOU FOR THE VOTES!!! I can't tell you how much I appreciate everyone's support. I think most of you already know that I ended up being one of the five winners of the nation-wide “Film Your Issue” contest, and that my entry also won the top prize of the paid internship at Disney's movie studios in LA as well! So once again, thank you so much for helping me with the votes. I was told that “Orphans in Africa” was a favorite of both the celebrity judges and the public, so it all paid off. Many of you have been asking to hear some details about my summer, so here it goes... If you'd like a shorter summary, you can read either of these two articles...
1 . . News article on Virginia Tech's web site -- 6/22/06
2 . . One of several articles in the "Richmond Times Dispatch" -- 7/15/06
You can also see me in a magazine and interviewed on TV at these links...
3 . . Leaton's pic in the "Hollywood Reporter" Magazine (same page as Ryan
. . . . . . . Seacrest, Beyonce, Pink, Ludacris, and Nicolas Cage) -- 8/08/06
4 . . One of the two interviews that aired on TV in LA -- 8/02/06
Anyway, the day before I went to New York City for the United Nations event, I got a phone call from an employee at Disney. She told me that in a few minutes, some of the top people at Disney would be calling to interview me for the position, including people like the Senior Executive Vice President. When I got the call, they were all very kind and they each told me that they loved my “Orphans in Africa” movie. One of them encouragingly said “If you're able to make something like that all on your own, then I'm excited to see what you'll be able to do once you come out here to Hollywood and have access to all this.”
Here's a quick summary of my United Nations trip... I had to miss the showing of my film at the Maui Film Festival in Hawaii since I was on my way to NYC that day. The weekend trip to New York City didn't start off so well when the air conditioning shut down for our 9-hour train ride on that 95 degree Sunday. It felt like it was at least 100 degrees. Some passengers needed medical attention and an ambulance awaited them at Penn Station in NYC. However, once we exited the train and cooled off, the day suddenly took a turn for the better. We checked into the Alex, a stylish East-side hotel near the United Nations Headquarters.
A cocktail reception was held on Sunday evening for the winners in the penthouse of The Alex. I finally met the president of the contest in person, Mr. HeathCliff Rothman, who had been an incredible help to all of us contestants every step of the way. I was also honored to meet the other five winners. I enjoyed getting to know each of them very briefly. One winner, Molly Conners, offered to donate her prize laptop to Canaan Children's Home, the orphanage where I shot my movie. Toshiba then offered to donate yet another computer that would work with the 220 volt system in Africa. The evening was warm and sunny and the penthouse overlooked the Chrysler building, which is beautiful when the jagged lights come on at sunset. I met quite a few film industry professionals that night, many of whom were kind enough to fly all the way from Beverly Hills to New York City specifically for this event. After the party, we went to an exotic Cuban-Asian restaurant that the people from MSN Spaces hosted.
The big event at the United Nations' Headquarters was the next night. After getting clearance from the security personnel, I walked through the first floor on my way to the elevator while trying to quickly take in everything around me. I went to the Delegates' Dining Room, which had a panoramic view of New York City. They showed our films in front of about 300 people, and then we each went up to receive our award and give a short acceptance speech. I was introduced by Mr. Craig Moon, President and Publisher of USA Today. I met two of the celebrity judges, Ellen Burstyn (Academy Award-Winning Actress), and Judy Woodruff (Broadcast Journalist).
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