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Elon in LA students, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ enjoy The Oscars

Sixteen Elon University students, including one soon-to-be Internet sensation, took part in Hollywood’s night to celebrate cinematic achievements in the film industry.

After appearing on several network telecasts of The Oscars, Alyssa Shiller ’17 was dubbed ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ by members of the media and online sources thanks to her bright red jacket. She was one of 16 Elon University students who attended pre-Oscars events Feb. 22. Copyright 2015 Alyssa Shiller
As his “L.A.: Entertainment Production” course got underway Monday, Feb. 23 – the morning after The Oscars – Elon University Assistant Professor J McMerty was informed he was in the presence of a bona fide Internet sensation.

“You know Alyssa’s trending on Twitter, right?” one student explained, alluding to strategic communications major Alyssa Shiller ’17, who was seated nearby.

Why, yes, the director of the Elon in Los Angeles program knew Shiller, but her Twitter fame was news to him. McMerty then learned that most of online America knew Shiller as “Little Red Riding Hood,” the ruby-hooded figure lurking in the background at The Oscars. Unbeknownst to most Oscars attendees, including the Elon students on site, the sophomore could be clearly seen on television behind actress Reese Witherspoon and Taya Kyle, widow of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

Shiller is one of 16 Elon University students studying in Los Angeles this semester, and the entire group attended pre-Oscars events together. (Approximately 10 Elon alumni also attended the festivities, said McMerty, who was on hand.) Despite the large Elon showing, Shiller is likely the only one to inspire a hashtag, as well as a Buzzfeed article. Mentions of the red-hooded student were seemingly everywhere online, including a Decider post titled “Mysterious Red Hooded Photobomber Is Your Oscars MVP.”

Elon University’s very own student newspaper, The Pendulum, helped identify Shiller the following day.

In hindsight, a series of rain showers deserves credit for creating the social media star. As McMerty explained, Shiller’s jacket wasn’t a publicity stint; it was a necessity as precipitation was a constant that afternoon.

While the weather scared away some onlookers, Shiller said she wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see Hollywood’s biggest names up close. “I stayed because I figured, when else would I get the chance to be 10 feet away from the people I have admired on television since I was a child? she explained. “The rain wasn't going to kill me.”

As Shiller stood in The Oscars bleacher section, actress Jennifer Lopez and musician Adam Levine both waved and smiled at her. Acknowledgement from the popular frontman was especially exciting for the Elon student. “I actually wrote a music video for one of Maroon 5's songs, "It Was Always You," and [I] wish I gave it to Adam when I had the chance,” she said.

Celebrities weren’t the only ones to spot Shiller. The student recalled receiving texts from a friend saying, “So you're on TV. Congrats." Likewise, Shiller’s brother-in-law and 92-year-old grandma recognized their kin on their television screens.

Shiller could be seen by millions waving and pointing, which McMerty said was a common act among non-celebrities in attendance. “Someone would call you on the phone or someone would text you, ‘Oh, you are in the back of the CBS shot, or the ABC shot.’ And then you’d wave,” he explained. “It was just sort of happenstance that somebody on Twitter saw Alyssa and it blew up.”    

In the days since The Oscars, Shiller – who was unaware of her building Internet fame that night – has received an “overwhelming” response from friends and people online. “Friends have been texting me, ‘You're famous!’ and I'm thinking, ‘I wish I were famous for more than just a silly face in the background,’” she explained. “Some people have even said, ‘Remember me’ or ‘Remember where you came from.’ I find that funny.”

Tommy Kopetskie,
2/27/2015 4:15 PM