Movie stars aren’t the only ones who help hand out Academy Awards: each year, they’re joined by a cast of presenters who help distribute the statuettes to winners. Previously, these presenters have been gorgeous, skinny model types, but the producers of this year’s show wanted to switch it up: they asked aspiring film students around the country to submit a 30-second video clip explaining how they would contribute to the future of film, then selected six winners from over 1,000 entries. In an interview with the AP, co-producer Neil Meron explained, “This tradition of the buxom babe that comes out and brings the trophy to the presenter to give to the winner seemed to be very antiquated and kind of sexist, too… Why can’t we have people who actually care about film and are the future of film be the trophy presenters?” Flavorwire reached out to contest winner and Oscar presenter Jennifer Brofer, a Marine Corps vet who currently studies at the University of Texas at Austin, to ask about her work and what it was like to take part in the biggest award ceremony of the year.
Flavorwire: How long have you been making films? What originally brought you to filmmaking?
Jennifer Brofer: I’ve been making movies ever since my mom bought me my first video camera when I was 16 years old. When I served as a combat correspondent in the Marine Corps, my love of video production grew.
Prior to studying at UT Austin, you spent ten years in the US Marine Corps. How has that affected your filmmaking?
I learned the majority of my video production skills in the Marine Corps, and I learned how to tell stories in very adverse conditions, like Afghanistan.
How did you hear about the Oscars contest, and how did you decide what to include in your 30-second clip?
[I read] an article [in which] Seth MacFarlane announced the Oscar Experience College Search, and I knew I had to enter. I wanted my video to convey the message that I would bring honor, courage, and commitment to my film career.
What were some of the highlights of presenting at the awards ceremony?
My favorite moment was standing on stage next to Meryl Streep when Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar for Best Actor. He made a few jokes during his acceptance speech, and Meryl looked over at me and laughed, so I laughed with her. It was surreal.
Which film industry star did you most enjoy meeting?
It was cool meeting Ben Affleck because he actually took the time to talk to me and my fellow film students, and he gave us some great advice on how to make it in Hollywood. I had met him during dress rehearsal, and I leaned over and told him that I was rooting for Argo. So when he came backstage after winning the Oscar, I yelled out, “I knew you’d win!” and he gave me a big hug. Really cool person.