The red carpet at the Oscars was a wall of paparazzi angling for access to the stars, along with one U.S. Sailor: MC2 (SW) Brent Pyfrom.
Pyfrom, a Mass Communication Specialist with the American Forces Network (AFN) Broadcast Center, in Riverside, Ca., was part of a team getting messages of support from the stars for the U.S. military.
“It was organized chaos. We five sardines really got to know each other’s elbows as we called out to celebrities from our cramped space,” said Pyfrom.
It worked! The AFN team got about 60 celebrity messages for the U.S. military, from Aaron Rodgers, Olivia Munn, Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Liev Schreiber and a special moment with one of the most tweeted about women at the Oscars.
“Whoopi Goldberg is one of my favorite celebrities. When I saw her and called out to her, she insisted I stand next to her for the interview. Then she surprised me when she said she was going to give me a kiss, and before it registered, she kissed me on the cheek. Wow. Whoopi Goldberg kissed me,” smiled Pyfrom.
Pyfrom, in his dress uniform, was in the midst of battling other journalists as celebrities passed by, when a woman he didn’t recognize angled her way through the crowd to him.
“She told me she loved the U.S. military and she spoke from her heart, recognizing and appreciating our sacrifices and service. Right after the interview, my colleague, Eric Gabriel, told me I was really relaxed and did a great job with the Vice President’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden,” said Pyfrom. “I didn’t know who she was!” It must have been something about a man in his uniform, because Dr. Biden did what Goldberg did, saying goodbye with a friendly kiss on the cheek.
Pyfrom did recognize a star some people said kind of looks like him … Kevin Hart.
“I’m better looking, but if he’d put me in a movie, I’d say he was,” laughed Pyfrom. “He’s one of my favorites. I really wanted to get a picture with my doppelgänger. He was in a rush, but he still took the time to shout out to the service members and said he thought the opportunity was really dope.”
Hart’s message to the military was brimming with wide-eyed energy. “I love you, I support you and what you do for this country and I’ll be forever grateful.” He ended by locking eyeballs with Pyfrom, his military look-alike, raising his eyebrows and nodding in a moment of non-verbal bonding. There was no kissing.
Even though Pyfrom interviewed Hart, Biden and Goldberg, what moved him the most were his interviews with some Soldiers who were watching celebrities walk the red carpet.
“I’m used to seeing Soldiers training, but I saw a different side of them at the Oscars. They were in their dress blues and full of pride representing the Army,” said Pyfrom.
Some of that pride bubbled up courtesy of hundreds of spectators in bleachers alongside the red carpet. When the Soldiers were introduced, they broke into a chorus of “U.S.A. … U.S.A.”
Capturing those moments and feelings is why the AFN team of MC2 (SW) Brent Pyfrom, Eric Gabriel, Fabian Montgomery, Rock Grant and Robert Sekula worked the red carpet event at the Oscars. They provided an opportunity for stars to take a pause from promoting their movie to say thanks to the military.