Vice President of Velocity Marketing Operations Samantha Newman had never entered a Viacom awards show contest before—and she’s worked with the company for 10 years.
Newman and her husband, Jason, have two children, 8-year-old Ethan and 4-year-old Alexa. “It’s hard traveling when you have young kids,” said Newman.
But this year Newman’s kids were finally old enough to travel and attend an award show—right in time for Nickelodeon’s 28th annual Kids’ Choice Awards. Newman entered the contest, and won. The timing was fortuitous, as her son was just becoming a fan of live-action shows on Nickelodeon—many of which were represented at this year’s ceremony.
Watch as Newman broke the news to her children:
An extraordinary vacation for two lifelong Nickelodeon fans
“My kids have been Nick fans since birth,” said Newman. She remembers talking to her son, Ethan, before the contest was announced. She asked him if he knew the KCAs were approaching.
“Yes, on Saturday, March 11 at 8 p.m., hosted by John Cena,” Ethan recited. How did he know this?
“Advertising to kids works,” laughed Newman.
Newman recalls throwing a Paw Patrol-themed birthday party for Ethan when he was 4 years old. Ethan also adores Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and live-action shows like Henry Danger, while Alexa enjoys Dora the Explorer.
“I try to limit how much TV my kids watch,” said Newman. “But I make an exception for their favorite Nick shows.”
The adventure begins…
It was the first time the couple traveled with their children across the country. As the plane crested the hills of Los Angeles, Ethan gazed out the window and saw the Hollywood sign. He was ecstatic.
Newman and her family arrived and checked into their hotel the night before the show. The fun was about to begin. They headed to the Santa Monica Hanger Airport for a pre-show event full of kid-friendly activities from ad sponsors, such as a Nintendo station, a cupcake decorating stand, and a Hotwheels photo booth.
“For the kids, it was such a great experience to kick off the weekend,” said Newman.
The Newmans arrived at the University of Southern California’s Galen Center about 40 minutes before the show began.
“It was enough time to take in the spectacle,” said Newman.
In their balcony seats, the family had a perfect view of the stage, and their children said they were happy to be away from the slime pit. Ethan and Alexa craned their necks and saw a mass of orange balloons at the ceiling, tied back with a mesh net. They were curious about this display.
On stage, the children were fascinated by the live set with kids “built” into the props. Some kids were peeking through window cutouts, others were standing on balconies.
Ethan has been obsessed with Henry Danger for about a year now, and he was thrilled to see Jace Norman—his favorite star from the show—accepting two orange blimps for Favorite TV Actor and Favorite Kids TV Show.
“Ethan knew all of the stars getting slimed,” said Newman, who also recognized many faces on stage, including celebrity presenter Gwen Stefani.
For the finale, Nickelodeon released the gaggle of orange balloons that had captivated Ethan and Alexa earlier in the evening. As host John Cena received a healthy dose of slime, balloons cascaded onto the audience as if they were falling from the clouds.
While it was tough getting acclimated to the real world back in snowy New York, Newman and her family returned with a newfound appreciation for Nickelodeon and the magic of TV.
“Ethan understands a lot more about commercials and live TV,” said Newman. And he’s re-living the experience by regaling stories of the live set and celebrity sightings to classmates and teachers.
For Newman, the KCAs contest encapsulated everything she loves about Viacom. “I love how this company provides a chance for employees to actually go to our events. I’m proud to work for Viacom.”
This contest has allowed our employees to attend of the most buzzworthy award shows in Viacom history. Here are some interviews with previous winners.
The 2016 CMT Music Awards: Shannon Griffith
Logo’s 2016 Trailblazer Honors: Joseph Stefan
The 2016 BET Awards: Courtney McNulty
VH1’s 2016 Hip Hop Honors: Lauren Slinger, Amber Jones, and Christina Smith
Nickelodeon’s 2016 KCA Sports: Deepak Daswani