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West Orange Times & Observer Saturday, Jul. 28, 2018 1 month ago

West Orange High grad reports at Jimmy Awards

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Clarissa Moon served as a student reporter for Broadway World at the Jimmy Awards in June in New York City.
by: Danielle Hendrix Black Tie Editor

Both of Clarissa Moon’s parents are immersed in the world of the performing arts, so it’s not surprising the recent West Orange High graduate has grown up in it, too.

Moon, 18, has performed in the Orlando theater community for as long as she can remember. Her father is a show director at Universal Orlando Resort, and her mother both acts and serves as a finance manager for SAK Comedy Lab.

But when Moon found her passion for Broadway and began following that community, she never imagined she would be asked to serve as a student reporter at the Jimmy Awards. The award is named in honor of James M. Nederlander, legendary Broadway theater owner and producer. The Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor are awarded annually to two grand-prize winners selected from a group of student performers representing the participating professional theaters. 

This year’s Jimmy Awards ceremony, presented by the Broadway League Foundation, took place June 25 at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway in New York City. The event included 80 participants from 40 regional programs across the country — and Moon got to be on the red carpet to cover it. 

Her interest in Broadway began with watching videos on YouTube and broadway.com. As a sophomore, one of her theater directors came up to her and told her that Broadway World was looking for student reporters to write about high-school shows.

“I wrote an article about my high school’s theater production of ‘Into the Woods’ and got the position,” Moon said. “I wrote articles about my high school and (then) expanded into the theater community. I started doing video interviews … and next thing I knew, theaters were contacting me asking me to do interviews for their shows. Two years later, I’m still working for Broadway World as a staff writer.”

She first applied to become a student reporter for the Jimmy Awards last year, made it to the Top 10 contenders and ended up first runner-up. She applied once again this spring and again made it to the Top 10. After a month of competing with other semifinalists for social-media activity on their application videos, Moon learned she was one of two student reporters selected.

In New York, Moon and her fellow student reporter spent a 20-hour day with the Broadway League the day of the awards ceremony, waking up at 6 a.m. and getting to bed around 2 a.m.

West Orange High graduate Clarissa Moon has been involved in the theater community for as long as she can remember.

 “In the morning, we shot a promotional video for the livestream that night, kind of introducing ourselves and explaining what was going to happen that day,” she said. “We had breakfast with managers from the Broadway League, and we met up with somebody who runs social media for ‘Playbill’ and got to tour their offices, which was insane because that’s where all the playbills are created, and it’s one of the Broadway news organizations that I follow. 

“The most exciting part by far was the red-carpet experience,” she said. “I got to talk to theater people: Kyle Selig, currently starring as Aaron Samuels in ‘Mean Girls’ on Broadway … a Broadway legend, Victoria Clark…(and the) last person I talked to was Betsy Wolfe. It was amazing to get to talk to these stars I’ve followed for a while. Then we went inside and got to see the actual Jimmy Awards. I was listening to the opening number, and it all washed over me at once what I’d just done on the red carpet, and I just sat there and cried.”

Moon plans to continue working for Broadway World, as well as at Universal, as she heads to the University of Central Florida this fall. 

“I still feel like I’m on cloud nine,” she said. “I’m still kind of in disbelief that (the Jimmy Awards experience) all happened, but it’s slowly sinking in.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Black Tie Editor for all three of Observer Media Group's print publications in Orange County. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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