A Lesson Learned from the Oscars, “Don’t Give Up!”

A Lesson Learned from the Oscars, “Don’t Give Up!”

Sunday evening’s 2014 Oscar presentation may have found many of us glued to our seats. We may have dreamt of being in the audience, sharing a slice of pizza with Meryl Streep. Jennifer Brofer enjoyed the Oscars in the comfort of her apartment, with her three roommates and a friends she met in 2013, at the Oscars.  That’s right, Jennifer Brofer has done more than just dream of attending the Oscars. Brofer was a trophy presenter during the 2013 Oscars, she even met Meryl Streep.

Jennifer Brofer with Meryl Streep 2013 Oscars
Jennifer Brofer with Meryl Streep 2013 Oscars

For the first time in 2013 the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences held a contest to give aspiring film makers a chance to attend the Oscars. Co-Producers of the 2013 event, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, asked the question, “How will you contribute to the future of film?”  Their intention was to replace the models that serve as presenters with college students who were interested in the film industry. Over 1,100 students submitted a video or essays hoping to be chosen among the lucky six given the chance to present at the Oscars. The intention, to inspire these students to become history makers in the film industry, to perhaps one day receive an Oscar of their own.

“I submitted my video in January 2013,” Brofer says. “A few days before the deadline. I knew winning was a long shot, but I wanted to give it a try. After all, attending the Oscars is every film student’s dream!”

Jennifer Brofer in Afghanistan
Jennifer Brofer in Afghanistan

The road to the Oscars for Brofer was a tale worthy of film legend itself.  Brofer served in the Marine Corps from January 2002-January 2012, as a Combat Correspondent. She was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from 2010- 2011. By 2013 she was at the University of Texas in Austin, majoring in radio, television and film. Her winning video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TTLikUVIAQ

“I received an e-mail from contest officials that they would need to arrange a Skype chat in order to help narrow down the contestants,” Brofer describes her winning moment. “During the Skype chat, Academy Awards Producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan told me I was going to the Oscars! I was beyond elated. It was a dream come true to be given the opportunity to attend the Oscars.”

Within a few days time Brofer found herself bound for Los Angeles. She says, “It was so cool meeting other talented filmmakers during our trip. We also participated in rehearsals at Dolby Theater to prepare us for the big day — the 85th Annual Academy Awards! We met a lot of celebrities backstage during rehearsals, and they were all so nice. We were all fitted for gowns and tuxedos, and getting a ‘celebrity makeover’ was such a cool experience. I’ve never felt so glamorous in my life! During the Oscars ceremony, I felt well prepared for my duties as a trophy presenter. We were told the celebrities would probably be more nervous than we were, and they were right! The entire experience was surreal, and I’m so happy that I got the opportunity to represent UT Austin and the Marine Corps at the Oscars. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Since the Oscars, Brofer has kept on track with her studies. She recently moved to Los Angeles as part of the UT Austin Semester in Los Angeles (UTLA) Program. She has worked on several short films including a documentary called “Victory Birds” about a young woman’s fight with brain cancer. She is currently working at two internships within the film industry and preparing to graduate in May 2014.

“My military service helped prepare me immensely for my life as a film student,” says Brofer.  “In film, there are many obstacles one has to overcome, and having served in a combat zone helps put the problems I encounter now into perspective. Whenever I think I’ve hit a wall, whether it’s a tough problem with homework or a film project, I just remember that I survived for a year in the most dangerous place on Earth and lived to tell about it.”

The best advice she was given and the advice she would give is similar. “The path to success isn’t necessarily a straight one. I started out as a journalist in the Marine Corps, and I have come this far because I never gave up on my dream.”

The best advice she received during the Oscars came from the former Academy president Hawk Koch, “He told us to never give up, and I won’t.”

Jennifer Brofer 2014 Oscars
Jennifer Brofer and fellow 2013 presenter Tatenda Mbudzi (UCLA graduate) 2014


Reflecting on her experience last year Brofer says, “I never thought I would ever go to the Oscars. It was a long shot, but I took a chance because I knew the only failure would come in not trying at all. I took a risk, and it paid off big.”


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