The Women Behind the WOW on Oscar Night

By Natalie Benoit 


To say that Cheryl Cecchetto is good at what she does is like saying Meryl Streep is an okay actress. Both would be colossal understatements.

“Every year feels like the first year. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true. Every year seems like the first and I don’t even know where the time went by. But through a lot of presidents and leadership and chairs, things have changed. It’s always going through some transformation,” explained Cecchetto.  

2019 marks the 30th consecutive year Cecchetto will serve as the Executive Producer of the Academy Awards Governors Ball. It’s her responsibility to make the event the most talked about after-party on Oscar night.

“I am here to make sure my client can just move through this event and host everyone who deserved to get here for one reason or another. You know its 1,500 guests in the film industry, it’s a hot ticket,” Cecchetto expressed  

For the second year in a row, Cecchetto will be working alongside legendary makeup artist Lois Burwell. Burwell is the Academy Awards and Events Committee Chair, as well as the First Vice President on the Academy’s Board of Governors. The Academy-award winner is paying close attention to the design, color and creativity of the room.  

When you first walk into the Ray Dolby ballroom you are taken aback by its elegance and gold and red accents. Velvet red cloth adorns the tables while supple black leather couches invite guests to lounge after an overwhelming day. The ambiance is complete with soft, warm lights and a lowered ceiling to provide a sense of intimacy.

This year’s theme is “Filmscapes” – an homage to the movie-going experience. A large cinema screen will loop clips of legendary film scenes from across the years. Burwell’s goal is to evoke a sense of nostalgia and remind guests about the power of film to connect people from around the world.

The work behind the film montage required an enormous amount of effort and planning.

“Lois’ vision with ‘Filmscape’ has gone through quite a process, but it was absolutely needed because it was a discovery,” said Cecchetto.  

She and Burwell began discussing the project back around August. One of the biggest challenges was obtaining copyrights for the various film clips.   

“You have to go down dead ends or you have to know what goes wrong with anything in order to land in a good place. It’s as if you need that process,” Burwell said.

Aside from the eye-catching movie-screen, attendees have much more in store. Oscar winners can have their names written on their trophy(s) at the engraving station within the ballroom. Chef Wolfgang Puck and his team will cater the event for the 25th year, serving original dishes. The many entrees and appetizers can be accompanied by custom-made wines or cocktails from mixologists. The indoor-outdoor venue offers different settings for guests who need a moment alone or want to spark up a conversation.

The Governors Ball will take place following the 91st Academy Awards this Sunday, Feb. 24.