“A pinch-me moment.” That’s how former Baton Rougean Louise Hilton describes attending the 88th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles last Sunday.
“It was sort of a surreal experience,” she said from her home in California. “The Oscars was always my favorite night of the year, and I always watched with my mom (Cristina Hilton). To have her here with me was a dream come true.”
Walking the same red carpet as the actors, directors, producers and other Hollywood elite was a definite highlight for the mother and daughter. But the 33-year-old says two favorite moments were Lady Gaga’s performance and Leonardo DiCaprio’s win.
Gaga sang “’Til It Happens To You,” a nominee for Best Original Song from the documentary “The Hunting Ground.”
“I had goosebumps the whole time she was on stage. It was really electrifying … powerful,” says Hilton. “She brought me to tears when the group of her fellow survivors of sexual assault joined her on stage.”
Like everyone else in the audience, Hilton rose for a standing ovation when DiCaprio won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in “Revenant.”
“He is so well respected in the industry,” continues Hilton. “It was exciting being in the room to see him get that recognition … I’m still in such a daze.”
Hilton got to attend Hollywood’s biggest night as a result of her new job as a research specialist at the Margaret Herrick Library, which is the research library for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Located in Beverly Hills, the museum was established in 1928, the year after the academy was founded. It’s devoted to the history and development of the motion picture as an art form and an industry, and is used year-round by students, scholars, historians and industry professionals.
“It’s such an incredible place to work,” says Hilton, who graduated from LSU with a master’s degree in library and information science.
“I had heard about the museum and, while working on my master’s, I asked for an internship and I got it … I mean, we have Cary Grant’s cufflinks and the eyeglasses that were on his nightstand when he died,” she says.
When she returned to Baton Rouge, she went to work for the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, where her mom also works.
“My mom used to work for the presidential library in Rio de Janeiro (Museu da Repú blica), so I grew up with a respect for research,” says Hilton. “It was a perfect fit for me to become a librarian.”
She gets her love for research from her mom but her love of movies comes from her dad, Stanley Hilton, LSU history professor emeritus.
“Growing up, my dad had about 6,000 to 7,000 films on VHS, and we’d watch them together.” she explains. “They gave me a love and appreciation for the golden age of Hollywood — the 1940s and ’50s. When I was in the fourth grade, I wrote a paper about Gene Kelly and Shirley Temple … And, my mom just loves the Oscars.”
When the Herrick Library created the position of research specialist, her internship supervisor called and encouraged her to apply.
“I was the first intern ever selected to work in special sections,” says Hilton, who also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and taught English in a French public school for two years. “So, I took a leap of faith and applied for the position.”
Now she’s helping to plan the April centennial celebration of the life of the late actor Gregory Peck .
“I’m a fan of him and his movies,” says Louise. “His daughter is very active in the plans, so I’ve been working with her. I work directly with anyone coming in to do research.”
In fact, her favorite movie is “Roman Holiday,” which starred Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
“I love the romance of it,” she says. “It was Hepburn’s first major film debut. It’s just a beautiful story.”