On Friday afternoon, Nekesa Mumbi Moody sat in one of the lobbies of the bustling Loews Hollywood Hotel. The street outside was already closed before Sunday’s Academy Awards, the tents up, the red carpet ready to be unrolled.
This is the second Oscars Moody has covered live, and on Friday, the global entertainment and lifestyles editor for the Associated Press watched as journalists arrived at the hotel to get their credentials. The AP has more than 20 people there to cover the Academy Awards. They’ll be at the red carpet, the parties, the rehearsals and all the events surrounding the big night.
“In some ways it’s glamorous,” Moody said. “You get to walk on the red carpet for a little bit before the celebrities come, and you have to be dressed up. But then at the end of the day, I’m not on camera and no one cares what I’m wearing.”
Last year was Moody’s first covering the Oscars from Hollywood, and she wore a pair of black stiletto heels. For about five minutes.
“I put on these really basic grandma-looking flats because I’m not there to look cute,” she said. “I’m there to do my job.”
On Sunday, that includes a little time on the red carpet talking to producers and the host of the AP’s livestream. Then, she’ll head to the AP’s production truck and eventually to Elton John’s viewing party to watch the rest of the show. During the Oscars, her team is reporting, shooting photos and video, then they’ll head out to edit, write and continue covering the big parties.
Moody has been the AP’s entertainment editor since 2012. Before that, she spent 12 years covering the music industry. She travels with the AP to the Cannes Film Festival, the Grammys and the Sundance Film Festival, among others. At the festivals, she said, there are the films and a lot of other things happening, like celebrities and fashion and parties. The Oscars and the Grammys are more of a countdown to one big event.
What Moody’s thinking about at each is how the AP can cover it smartly, she said, with the resources they have.
“We reach a lot of different people,” she said.
Even though the AP has covered the Oscars for a long time, she said, they have to continually think about how they do so. This year, that includes live-tweeting the show. Last year, she said, two of the biggest moments came from the instant reactions to John Travolta flubbing Idina Menzel’s name and that Ellen selfie.
“People are watching it differently,” Moody said, “so we have to be aware of that space and be like, OK, what are people talking about?”
“It’s an opportunity for people who are usually not recognized to be lavished,” Moody said.
As we spoke, Moody excused herself from the call for a moment to talk to one of her entertainment writers, Sandy Cohen, who came into the lobby to show Moody her Oscar night dress. Cohen will cover the red carpet, plus some big parties.
“You know, you’ve got to get dressed up,” Moody said after Cohen left, “so you might as well have fun with it.”
She plans to. But this year, she’s skipping the stilettos.