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Sean P. Means: Trip to the Oscars brings a Utahn full circle

Published February 27, 2014 3:44 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When Drew Stelter was a kid, he told his brothers, "I'm gonna go to the Oscars someday."

On Sunday, he's getting his chance.

Stelter, a 24-year-old operating-room nurse at Alta View Hospital in Sandy, won two tickets to the fan bleachers section of the red-carpet gallery outside Hollywood's Dolby Theater — where he and his mother, Robyn, will watch the stars enter the 86th annual Academy Awards ceremony.

The tickets were given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the industry group that awards the Oscars, through a "Fan Appreciation Week" contest on Facebook. Stelter, who lives in West Jordan, answered questions on the Facebook page every day for a week and "hoped for the best."

One of those questions — "What is your favorite or most revealing piece of movie memorabilia?" — prompted an answer that relates to how the Oscars changed Stelter's life.

"It's kind of a full-circle moment for me," he said.

The story begins five years ago, during the 2009 Oscar ceremony, when screenwriter Dustin Lance Black won the Oscar for original screenplay for "Milk."

The win, Stelter said, "just really meant a lot for me." Furthermore, "his speech really struck a chord with me. … He kind of reached out to gay and lesbian youth in the country and said, 'You are beautiful creatures of value.' "

(Here's the full quote: "If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight, who have been told that they are 'less than' by their churches or by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you. And that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.")

"It really echoed with me," said Stelter, who is gay but still was closeted in 2009.

Two years later, Stelter met Black in Salt Lake City at a preview screening of "J. Edgar" (the biopic of J. Edgar Hoover, which Black also wrote). Black autographed Stelter's Blu-ray copy of "Milk" — and that's the piece of memorabilia that Stelter said meant the most to him.

The academy folks running the Facebook contest "sent a message back saying [that story] was really cool," he said.

Stelter has been watching the Oscars for years, and his favorite host is Whoopi Goldberg.

"I wish they would bring her back," he said, adding that he loved the time in 1999 when Goldberg took the stage dressed as Queen Elizabeth I "and brought the house down."

Stelter is excited about seeing the stars on the red carpet. His favorite: "Hunger Games" star (and last year's Best Actress winner) Jennifer Lawerence, who's nominated for supporting actress this time for "American Hustle." "She's a blast!" Stelter said.

He says he's torn in the Best Actress race this year between "Gravity's" Sandra Bullock and "Blue Jasmine's" Cate Blanchett. But he's sure about which movie he wants to win Best Picture.

"I really hope 'Gravity' wins," he said, "but all the movies are so great."

Sean P. Means writes The Cricket in daily blog form at http://www.sltrib.com/blogs/moviecricket.