Take a Trip to the Emmy Awards!

October 3, 2013

An insider’s scoop on what it’s like to attend the biggest night in television

When the average teenager thinks of the Emmy Awards, what often comes to mind are sugary visions of a red carpet crowded with A-listers, a blinding dazzle of camera flashes, and a sea of couture gowns – in other words, glamour at its whirlwind finest. For those chasing the entertainment industry, it’s a living dream, a candy-coated confection dedicated to the most notable talents in the biz. The Emmys serve as television’s biggest night – a show of gold that’s mesmerizing simply to watch, let alone fantasize about one day attending.

But for Shana Gohd (@shanagohd), a college student who dreams in sitcom colors and talk show shapes, that fantasy came true. On Sunday, September 22nd, with a ticket in hand and possibilities at her fingertips, Shana arrived at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles for the 2013 Emmy Awards, where she was given the chance to sit amongst television royalty and witness a dream come into fruition. But the story of how she came to be at the one of the biggest televised award shows of the year is practically a TV episode itself.

“It happened out of pure initiative,” Explained Shana, who, at 20 years old, studies Television and Broadcast Journalism at Chapman University, located in the greater Los Angeles area. “I’ve watched the Emmys every year and have always been really invested in the show. I’ve always wanted to go.”

She was determined to make it happen. Seizing the idea of attending with vigor, Shana set to work scouring the internet, researching every name that could be connected to the show. Dozens of e-mails sailed into cyberspace, explaining who she was and the level of fascination she held for the show. She pressed every connection she could with one simple question: ‘How can I get to the Emmys?’.

Only one person responded, and it was bad news: too late, try again next year.

This could have been the setback to foil any chance she had of seeing the show. But instead, Shana kept Emmys on her mind and counted down the days until August 1st of 2013, when she e-mailed the same woman asking if there was anything that could be done this time around – only to run into another roadblock. “Someone else replied saying ‘She doesn’t work here anymore. Who are you, what is this?’” Shana said.  “So I sent an e-mail similar to last year’s explaining who I was and how much I loved TV and wanted a chance to go to the Emmys. She responded saying that she would send me an order form for tickets. I am so incredibly grateful for the chance.”

Tickets for the Emmys range from $200-$300, depending on where your seats are. And unfortunately, even after submitting an order form for tickets, there’s no guarantee you’ll actually secure any.

So it was that Shana’s yearlong process to buy tickets became even more of a waiting game. It wasn’t until August had nearly faded to September that she was finally given the news: she was going to the Emmys.

“Nothing was going to stop me,” Shana stated in regards to the process. “There’s a difference between taking a chance and doing something stupid, and this was a chance. People want to help you when you go for it.”

It was perhaps this mindset that has enabled Shana to achieve other unusual, albeit highly interesting feats – such as sneaking onto the set of Parks and Recreation and consequently getting cast as an extra when it filmed at Chapman last January.

Shana believes that negativity is often the root of failure. “Things work out more than people expect.”

The days leading up to the Emmys began to blur and suddenly, it was September 22nd. Dolled up in Adrianna Papell and with hair and makeup styled from LA Noir, Shana set out from her friend’s Hollywood home in pursuit of downtown LA, where she arrived at the Nokia Theatre in style: chauffeured in a Toyota Camry amidst a sea of limousines.

“Security gave me a really hard time.” She recalled. “A pass for a driver came with your ticket and they didn’t believe that mine was real.”

When she and the friend chauffeuring her finally received the ‘okay’ to proceed, they pulled up to the edge of the theatre.

“It was so, so surreal.” Shana described. “People in red jackets stood outside saying ‘Welcome!’, and I stepped out asking ‘What do I do?’. They told me ‘You go to the Emmys!’ and I said, ‘Yeah, where do I go?’. They just looked at me and said ‘The red carpet!’.”

Stunned, she made her way through security to a knot of people waiting on the cusp of the carpet. The carpet, she explained, was actually divided into two sections: one for celebrities and interviewers, and the other for those who had bought tickets.

“It was so nuts standing and staring at the carpet. I kept thinking ‘This is really weird, what is going on?’” She said. “It looks different in real life, too. You imagine it to be this long carpet, but it’s actually really small. It’s a little square.”

After a surreal walk down the famed red icon, her ticket was scanned and she was directed to the lower back level of the theatre, where her seat was located.

“I was so nervous, I thought I was going to throw up,” Shana said. “Have you ever anticipated something your whole life? It’s like that.”

And just like that, the 2013 Emmy Awards began, in all of its glamorized glory. “It was a great production,” Shana said of the show, which distributed numerous honors such as Outstanding Drama Series for Breaking Bad and Outstanding Comedy for Modern Family, alongside Lead Actress in a Drama for Homeland’s Claire Danes and Writing in a Comedy Series for 30 Rock’s Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield.

“It was a weird dual experience because you were on TV, but you were watching a show.” Shana described. “There were a lot of upsets and shockers, which made for an exciting production. One funny thing is that everyone in the audience was nuts for Breaking Bad – any clip from the show and people would go insane. They were like screaming fangirls. So when they won Best Drama, people went nuts. It was like the audience was bonding and becoming a family, everyone was so jazzed.”

When asked what her favorite part of the night was, she answered without hesitation that it was the red carpet. “That was something I didn’t think I was gonna do,” She said. “It was an experience I’d wanted my whole life. You just think of glamor and celebrities and it was…so chilling. It was at the beginning of the night, too, so I felt like anything could happen.”

In terms of the show itself? The opening segment that featured previous show openers and notable attendants (Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Spacey, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler alongside this year’s host Neil Patrick Harris) cinched her heart. “I love all of them and I didn’t know they were going to do that!” She said. “I started crying when I first heard the theme music because it meant I was living it.”

The night of fantasy came to a close at 8 pm, when exiting became a free-for-all. “I left the theatre and waited for my friend to pick me up, and that’s when I saw so many celebrities.” Shana recalled.

Among her list of sightings were Lena Dunham, January Jones, Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto and Evan Peters, along with Cobie Smulders (Robin on How I Met Your Mother), whom Shana got to speak with.

The experience was “beyond what I imagined,” Shana said. “It was impeccable. There was no way I could really imagine what it would be like, it was completely different in real life.”

The secret to Shana’s successful evening? The mindset that “if the lowest thing that happens is that I go and watch the show, it’s going to be the best night ever.”

Despite the incredible experience, she came out of the show deciding she doesn’t want to return until she’s invited. Though becoming a showrunner or writer are both things she’s considering for a career in television, Shana knows she wants to produce – preferably for comedy. It’s through this aspiration that she’s determined to take her next trip to the Emmys – this time by invitation.

“It was great because I got to have an unbiased experience that wasn’t disappointing because my show didn’t win,” She explained. “But I don’t want to go again until I’m supposed to be there.”

It may have been a long, hard road that spanned fourteen months and required excessive efforts on her part – but in the end, it proved just how far perseverance mixed with a handful of dreams can take you. “I would’ve done anything to go,” Shana said. “It was so worth it.”

  To join Shana’s future adventures, follow her on Twitter: @ShanaGohd.

– Shelley DeHekker 


Keep up with WeKnowtheDJ’s Shelley on Instagram and Twitter: @shelleydehekker.

Check out photos from Shana’s big night below.

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