A Marine With A Dream

Posted March 4, 2013

Sunday evening marked the 85th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, an event synonymous with the magic and majesty of the entertainment industry.  People around the globe tuned in with the hopes of seeing their favorite films and entertainers honored for their craft, influence, and vision. As the show proceeded and the awards were announced, all eyes fell to the winners, who moved gracefully toward stage to receive what is widely regarded as the most prestigious award in the industry. For each of these people, it was a supreme recognition for their passion and commitment to the medium of film.

And so it was for one woman at the other end of the golden statues, as well.

Marine Corps veteran and current University of Texas junior Jennifer Brofer was one of six film students given the honor of carrying Oscars on stage during Hollywood’s most celebrated film event. Designed by Academy Awards co-producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan (from NBC’s Smash), the Oscar Experience College Search launched last November in an attempt to fill the Oscar stage with film enthusiasts. Over 1,100 contestants submitted 30-second videos and essays explaining how they would contribute to the future of film. In her own segment, Jennifer spoke of bringing the Marine Corps values—honor, courage, and commitment—to her future endeavors in film, where she hopes to eventually produce and direct. She ended by telling fellow veterans: “I’ve Got Your 6.” On a night that would result in few surprises, it was also no surprise that Ms. Brofer was selected.

Hoping to become a filmmaker since the age of 16, Jennifer enlisted in the Marine Corps’ Delayed Entry Program four days after the 9/11 Terrorist attacks, where she was trained to be a combat correspondent. Her first assignment brought her to The Boot, the base newspaper on the hallowed grounds of Parris Island, where she served as a reporter and editor. Her next assignment was to MarinesTV in Washington, D.C., where she worked on news packaging and as an on-air contributor for Marines Headlines, the Corps’ international show broadcast on the Pentagon Channel. Her Marine Corps service culminated as a Public Affairs Chief at Camp Pendleton, CA and overseas in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, with the 1st Marine Logistics Group.

In each of these positions, Jennifer was widely recognized for her contribution. Her awards include: Featured Contributor to Marines Magazine, Outstanding New Writer for the Marine Corps Division of Public Affairs Merit Awards Program, and the Marine Corps’ Outstanding New Broadcaster Award. In addition, she graduated from Syracuse University’s yearly Military Motion Media Program in 2009. Housed in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the program is uniquely designed to help active-duty military correspondents “learn how to become better storytellers”.

As the United States approaches the gradual cessation of sustained military operations overseas, there has been a decided shift in the entertainment industry toward a deeper exploration of the post-9/11 era.  Films by directors such as Kathryn Bigelow, Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger, and others highlight the complexity of both the postmodern experience of combat and the impact it has on service members and their families. Veterans like Jennifer Brofer can add another dimension to this conversation by bringing their own service histories to bear in the films and projects they undertake, and by demonstrating those abilities—honed in military service—which make them civic assets and leaders.  This will not only bring an element of direct experience to the subject matter, but will also help demonstrate the manner in which these service members are contributing in positive and meaningful ways to the national conversation and our shared sense of social consciousness.

Jennifer Brofer began her quest to attend the Oscars with a message to fellow veterans, and she followed through on that promise by wearing a Got Your 6 lapel pin on her evening gown during the ceremony. The Marine Corps values Jennifer espoused as her unique contribution to film seem to have already made their mark, and undoubtedly will continue to do so in the future.