Viacom Employee Lottery Winner Courtney McNulty’s BET Experience: “I Could Feel the Fire in the Air”
Courtney McNulty, Viacom’s coordinator for intellectual property and litigation at our Santa Monica office, is the latest winner in the series of employee lotteries for Viacom awards shows. She attended the BET Awards on Sunday, June 26 in her hometown of Los Angeles.
So far, our winners have seen some of the most radical ceremonies in Viacom history. Our first winner, Shannon Griffith, won a trip to Nashville for the CMT awards. The CMT Awards showcased its innovative, eclectic genre and proved rap and country can merge harmoniously.
Our next winner, Joseph Stephan, witnessed the magic that was Logo’s Trailblazer Honors. Logo’s Trailblazer Honors came at a crucial moment for the LGBT community. It provided a safe haven for its dedicated fan base after the devastating attack in Orlando, and memorialized those lost in the senseless act of violence and hate.
Like the Trailblazer Honors, The BET Awards is a fundamental space for the black community to unite against oppression and forge a new standard for equality. In this year’s ceremony, Jesse Williams demanded civil rights in a riveting speech that went viral. The show featured an array of talent delivering heartfelt Prince tributes. Beyoncé literally flooded the stage with her performance of Freedom.
I chatted with McNulty about the experience of living these moments.
Lisa Di Venuta: This award season has been pretty extraordinary. What were you most excited about when you found out you won the BET Awards lottery?
Courtney McNulty: I love all genres of music, but I knew this ceremony would be special. I knew there would be an epic Prince tribute, so I was particularly excited to see that.
LD: Did that segment of the show live up to your expectations?
CM: Yes. It was absolutely amazing to witness in person. I loved how it wasn’t just one performance. They were interspersed throughout the show, and each artist performed Prince songs with their own twist.
LD: Who did you bring along as your guest?
CM: I brought my best friend Rihanna Lane. She was blown away that I got these tickets from my job. Her exact words were, “You have the greatest job!”
LD: It’s so cool you mention that. I think Viacom is unlike any other corporation when it comes to employee and fan engagement, but it’s great to have the perspective of somebody who doesn’t work for the company.
CM: I completely agree. During the show, I was so excited to see that I worked for a company that provides such an elaborate experience for its fans. After the show, I noticed BET News reporters interviewing people as they left the theater. Their faces were just ecstatic. I was so impressed with the level of fan involvement at the BET Awards.
LD: So what were some of your favorite moments, besides the Prince tributes?
CM: Beyoncé’s opening number was so intense, I loved it. And of course there was Jesse Williams’ speech. He was so well-spoken, with such incredible statements. I felt like I was a part of history. I can’t imagine anybody more deserving of the humanitarian award than him.
CM: Well, our seats were in eighth row of the loge section, which had a direct view of the stage and both screens. Not only did these seats have a perfect view, but they allowed us to walk in on the middle level of the theater, and see the whole spectacle from above. It’s so much more massive than you would expect. You could feel the fire in the air.
LD: I’m sure it was an emotional whirlwind. How did you feel after it was all over, when you left the show?
CM: I was totally amped up. The speakers, performances, lights…it was all so stimulating. It made me want to go out and do something. I want to spread Jesse’s word.
Go to BET.com for riveting clips of all the action. Photos courtesy of Courtney McNulty. Stay tuned for the interview with our next employee lottery winner.