2011 Oscars Red Carpet Correspondent Contest Winner Luz Pena Recalls Her Experience

Luz Penaby Luz Pena

[Editor's Note: Luz Pena and Philip Robibero of Hofstra University were the winners of the 2011 Oscars® Red Carpet Correspondent Contest held by mtvU and the Academy. Luz and Philip traveled to Los Angeles last week to cover the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, bringing you all the news and scoops from the stars you could possibly want. This is their story.]

Being this year's Oscar Correspondent for mtvU is not only an achievement that will open many doors for my professional career as a broadcast journalist, but a breakthrough into this industry as the first woman/Hispanic to win this contest!!

On Sunday February 27, 2011, the president of the Academy, Tom Sherak, announced Phil and I as the winners of the contest. My heart began to beat faster and I had a flashback of all the hard work and passion we put into this project. Finally, our dedication and sleepless nights were paying off, and our dream to be on the red carpet interviewing celebrities was just hours away from becoming a reality.

Right after the announcement, camera flashes and interviews were more than I could remember, but the humble feeling of finally achieving our long desired dream was priceless.

The moment to stand on the red carpet had arrived, and as we walked with our new press credentials, we saw our mtvU station -- the same spot we had seen the day before the announcement, but this time, it was officially ours! Standing right in front of our mtvU station, Phil and I looked at each other and there was no need for words; this was the moment we had envisioned, the moment to live our dream.

That day, we weren't college students any longer. We were on the same level as every reporter on the red carpet. We had envisioned the grand prize, and now, we were standing in front of it. We began to do our job like we had learned back at Hofstra. Myself, in front of the camera interviewing almost every celebrity that walked by, and Phil, behind the camera, shooting the interviews we had planned and talked about. Some of the celebrities I interviewed include Armie Hammer, Christopher Nolan, Mila Kunis, Amy Adams, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Josh Hutcherson, Mark Ruffalo, Russell Brand and Zachary Levi, among others.

After the red carpet, we entered the backstage press conference room with all the other news outlets and asked our questions to the Oscar winners. Up next, the Governor's Ball, where I had conversations with Jeff Bridges, held Christian Bale's Oscar and Hailee Steinfeld's mom asked me to take a picture with her daughter. It was an incredible blessing!

We're eternally grateful to the Academy, mtvU, Hofstra University, our families and friends for supporting and believing in us. To our new friends Blake Mitchell, David Torcivia, Sarah Erickson, and Joel Kutz, I cant wait to see the great things we all accomplish in the near future. If you can dream it, you can definitely do it! This is just the beginning.

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