By Diane Ako
Let's get the big question out of the way: I didn't win a regional Emmy. There, I've said it. Yes, I was- and am - disappointed. I feel I deserved an award. I really believed in my stories.
But was the night a wash? No, it was still an experience, and I'm happy enough I attended.
For a 7 p.m. dinner, I started getting ready at 3:30. It takes women an hour. Then there's the hour-long drive from Menlo to San Francisco (accounting for traffic). We left Olivia at the apartment with my cousin Val, and Val's daughter Camie.
Since I was a presenter, the organizers told me to show up at 5:30 to get my instructions. We got there before anything started, including the 6 p.m. no-host cocktails. I went backstage and, along with a small group of other presenters, was briefed on what to do.
And NO, there was no SWAG.
I was actually nervous. Like any other working assignment, I didn't eat or drink much, and I was only half paying attention to the conversation because I was trying to focus on the task at hand. I just didn't want to screw up.
I had invited a group of friends and relatives to attend as my guests. We actually made up a table of ten; six were my California friends, and I knew they would like it because they would get to see all their local San Francisco newscasters in person. Because the event's in SF, it stands to reason most of the attendees are from the area.
There were not too many Hawaii people, though I saw my former producer Justin, who left KHNL to produce at KNTV San Jose. It's a small industry; people jump around the nation and you end up knowing, or knowing of, a lot of people.
I also met a really nice Maui production team who took an Emmy home for a piece that aired on KHET, "Bhutan: Taking The Middle Path To Happiness."
It really wasn't a schmoozing kind of night. Entire tables of ten were designated for one station, so even though there were about 550 people, I didn't talk to too many other people besides the ones I invited. People kind of closed ranks and hung out with their friends, which I'm sure is entirely normal for an awards ceremony.
My category came up early, and I did not win. I lost to The Wayne Freedman, who earned his 46th Emmy that night. He's a great reporter, and I don't begrudge that. (Wayne is also a really nice guy, as I met him at the ceremony.) I'm only bummed I didn't get one also, because there can be multiple winners in each category. Some categories had two winners. On occasion, three.
My photographer Tracy Arakaki was also nominated, but he didn't win, either. He was watching online and was texting me throughout dinner.
I had to wait through dinner and dessert for my turn to present. Pairs of presenters gave away six awards, before they said goodbye and the next pair came up. Giving out six awards took about half an hour.
I had to go past the room where the winners got to be interviewed, backstage where boxes of statues sat on the table for upcoming winners, and stand at the presenters' podium and look across the stage to the podium where the winners gave their speeches. Ugh. Someone put me out of my misery.
My co-presenter was a really sweet Mexican woman, Pilar Nino, who had just won an Emmy for her reporting at Telemundo. Though I was nervous before we went up, when I actually stood up on stage, I felt fine; I went into auto-pilot from years and years of anchoring.
The big discussion between me and Pilar involved who would say what, in what order. They tell you to keep the banter to a minimum to keep the night moving along. They also tell you to NOT use the word winner. It's actually printed on the card, "And the recipient is..."
You are also asked to hold up the card as you read it, so the trademarked Emmy statue pictured on the back is visible to the viewing audience - both live, and online. Oh, and you're also told who stands on the left side of the podium, and what order to walk up in.
After that was done, I was getting tired. It was late, I was still jetlagged, and I was running a sleep deficiency. It was about 11 p.m. when we decided to leave, though my California friends chose to stay till the end. They said they had fun.
I was disappointed though, and I told Claus that maybe I wasted my time flying up for nothing. We spent a considerable amount of money to fly, drive, house, and feed four people. "No. If you won and you were in Hawaii, you would have been more bummed," he reasoned. Hmm. Maybe so.
So I've decided this is an experience that I could really choose to see as a glass half full, versus half empty. There were some good things, there were some junk things. It is what it is.
Look at the bright side. I have lovely friends who came to support me. I had the privilege of being an awards presenter, which not everyone can say they've done. I got a chance to use my ballgown again. We made a really fun vacation out of the rest of the trip.
As my friend Jim put it so kindly, "It doesn't take a statue to prove you're still a winner as far as your friends are concerned!" I really appreciate not only that sentiment, but that I have a lot of quality people in my life who will say that to me, and I know, mean it.
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