You’re sitting in your chair at the Emmys. The Big Show. The pinnacle of excellence in your field. You’ve shredded the program, trying to figure out when your category will be called. Suddenly, it is. A very shiny person with witty patter is presenting your category. They open the envelope, and then they are calling your name. Your coworkers, your date, and the very shiny person all cheer as you take the stage, shaking with excitement. You say something into the microphone — you’ll have to watch the telecast later to find out what you actually said. You might talk too long and they start to play the theme song of Green Acres to nudge you off stage. Then, a golden statue in your hand, you leave the field triumphant, and go on to celebrate your victory for the rest of the night.
That’s not exactly what happened to me.
My name is Kate Rorick. I’m a writer of new media (web series), old media (novels), and middle-aged media (television) — and this past Saturday night I became an Emmy-award winner in the category of Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media - Original Interactive Program.
So… This just happened. pic.twitter.com/mdTUYkwvfV— Kate Noble Rorick (@NobleRorick) September 10, 2015
Emma Approved is a modern day adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic Emma, updated for the connected generation. Emma is a lifestyle expert, party planner and meddler-extraordinaire. Along with her business partner Alex Knightley and her assistant Harriet, she forces her will on everyone around her, with the absolute assurance that she knows best. It’s a web series that airs original episodes on YouTube, with other story content on Emma’s blog, social media, and ancillary web videos of other characters’ perspectives and storylines.
And that’s actually the interactive part of the Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. As Emma Approved was a transmedia series (meaning, using multiple kinds of media all working together to tell a cohesive, complete story) it allowed the viewers to interact with the characters — to be a part of the story themselves.
I had served as co-executive producer, and my responsibilities ranged from breaking the overall structure of the show, to attending casting sessions, to running the room and writing (and rewriting) episodes, to occasionally even blocking scenes. (On a low budget web series, you wear a lot of hats.) Everyone worked very hard, and had a great time.
And to me, the win came completely out of the blue.
Emma Approved finished airing episodes last August. A year had gone by. We all had moved on to exciting new projects, and then suddenly I get a strange email from the TV Academy, asking how I pronounce my name.
Now, I had known that our executive producer had submitted for the Emmys. I vaguely recalled him asking me for my Television Academy number — but as I was in the midst of working on another show (The Librarians — season 2 starts airing on TNT Nov. 1st! Come for the swashbuckling adventure, stay for the obscure factoids!) I promptly forgot about it until that email. I quickly made a call, and yup… turns out we won an Emmy.
Not nominated. Won.
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media is a juried award. Meaning, it was not voted on by the Academy’s peer group at large. Instead, projects are submitted on paper, then finalists are chosen by a select jury. Those finalists are then invited to give a presentation to the jury of their outstanding creativeness. The jury can then select as many of the finalists as they want to win an award. They can choose all. They can choose none. This year, they chose two in our Original Interactive Program category: us, and Taylor Swift.
I like to think this means I’m now a part of Taylor’s entourage.
This news came about two weeks before the Creative Arts Emmys — and we were told that we could not tell anyone until the official announcement at the reception for the Interactive peer group, a few days before the awards show.
So we had to keep it secret. For two weeks. But I managed. I didn’t tell anyone, except for my husband. And my mom. And my agent. And my 3 to 7 best friends. But that was it. (Did I mention I suck at keeping secrets?)
Finally, the reception was held, the word was out, and my desperation to get a manicure was explained. I put on a fancy dress, my husband dusted off his suit, we sprang for a babysitter, and off we went.
It’s very difficult to sum up the experience of a swanky Hollywood awards show. It was lucky that some of our party had already been through this once before and knew what to do — Emma Approved’s predecessor The Lizzie Bennet Diaries won the same award in 2013. While I’d worked on that show, I hadn’t been one of the producers to get a shiny trophy. So this was all new to me. And even though it was the Creative Arts Emmys (i.e. not the A-list one with Tatiana Maslany and Vince Gilligan) it was still full of all the excitement and grandeur of a major industry event. Here’s how it went:
• We arrive, figuring out where to park our Prius amongst the big black SUVs, and follow the crowd to the red carpet, which forks into two paths: one with lines of photographers yelling at pretty people to get a better angle, and the one behind them for the unphotogenic peons. We know ourselves to be peons.
• Holy Crap, it’s hot.
• Seriously, how do all the pretty people stay pretty when it’s this hot?
• Wow, Allison Janney is gorgeous.
• Thank Jeeves, Academy personnel are handing out water.
• “Hey, random person I went to college with! That’s amazing, congrats on your nomination! I had no idea!”
• Hot, hot, hot. Take selfie in front of big statue. Die from heat.
• Miraculously find the rest of our group. My fellow award recipients [above, from left: me, Tamara Krinsky, Bernie Su, Alexandra Edwards, and Tracy Bitterolf] all look amazing, and somehow their hair has collectively survived the red carpet. Unlike mine.
• Find seats. Revel in air conditioning. Locate ladies room and fix hair.
• Everyone files in, and the show starts. Well, not quite. Before the show officially begins, a producer comes out and asks us to do a round of applause, and then a round of laughter: crowd reaction shots for the broadcast. The magic of television, people.
• The show really starts, and starts big with Mel Brooks. He introduces the show, lands a solid joke, and then gives out a couple of awards. (I don’t remember which awards he handed out. But I bet the winners sure do.)
• The awards are given out by category — all the makeup awards in a block, the lighting in a block, etc. And they start burning through the list — and good thing too, because there are 80 to give out.
• My favorite outfit is worn by one of the winning costume people from Game of Thrones. Of course.
• There’s an open bar in the lobby. It’s something I would have taken advantage of if I had any idea when our category would be called. They are going to come and get us when it’s time, so I ain’t leaving my seat until then.
• Allison Janney is so gorgeous, and looks so happy for Margo Martindale!
• Game of Thrones, American Horror Story: Freak Show, SNL 40. Rinse, repeat.
• A producer with a clipboard and a headset comes up to our row. This is it! We are taken backstage, and put in the green room (which is disappointingly not green) standing elbow lengths away from Bradley Whitford and Aasif Mandvi. Even though only the recipients are supposed to go out, we conspire to take our fabulous actresses Joanna Sotomura and Dayenne Hutton on stage with us.
• We are walked from the green room to just off stage. Headset Producer tells us that when the moment comes, to stand close together, and we’ll have 10 seconds to talk. Standing there, in the dark, waiting, is the first time I feel that nervous ball of energy in my stomach. Up until now, I’d been an observer. Now I can’t figure out what I should do with my arms.
• Headset Producer gives us the go signal. We go out onto the stage. The spotlight hits us. We grin like idiots while our executive producer proceeds to thank everyone, including Jane Austen and the fans. Then, it’s over. We walk off stage, handing the prop Emmy to the group behind us, winners of a different juried award.
• We are all smiley and high on adrenaline. We are directed to a room where we pick up our real Emmys. They are pointy, heavy, and blank. We are told the plaques with our names will be mailed to us.
So, this just happened. pic.twitter.com/HfRMMfHgWT— Kate Noble Rorick (@NobleRorick) September 13, 2015
• Pictures. Lots of pictures.
• While we are having our pictures taken, the show wraps up! We have to fight our way against the crowd to get back to our seats, where we left various purses and spouses.
• GO. TO. PARTY.
• The Creative Arts Ball is fancier than a Kardashian wedding. Jewels drip from the ceiling. Women in white gowns pour champagne. The center stage rotates, giving us a jazz band, a string quartet, and an R&B group doing Bel Biv Devoe covers in turn. But it’s hard to pay attention, because we are all starving.
• Find table/food. Find bar. Find chocolate station. Find friends at their tables. Party like you don’t have children.
• “Hey, honey? What time did we tell the babysitter we’d be home?”
• I turn into a pumpkin, the only evidence of that the evening really happened is the golden, winged woman standing on my coffee table.
Thus endeth my Emmy adventure. Maybe I’ll get to go again someday. Maybe not. But while I won’t ever forget my Emmy experience, I’m going to be back at my desk on Monday. Because while shiny statues are nice, I didn’t become a writer to win trophies.
I’m in it for the money.
Kate Rorick is a writer of television, web series, and novels. She has written for a variety of television shows, including Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Terra Nova and The Librarians, as well as a writer and producer for the Emmy Award-winning web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved. In her spare time, she is the bestselling author of historical novels under the name Kate Noble.