You may recognize the cadence of this article’s title as an adaptation of the famous line in Notting Hill. In the same scene, the Academy Award-winning actress portraying the character Anna Scott also notes “the fame thing isn’t really real.” Having garnered more than our fair share of recognition safeguarding the names of those who will take home Hollywood’s top honors as co-leaders of PwC’s OscarsⓇ balloting team, we certainly understand what she meant.
When you sit down to take the CPA exam, you don’t expect that one day you’ll be one of only two people tasked with the responsibility of keeping secrets no one else in the world knows. You don’t imagine yourself walking the red carpet or being photographed in the Los Angeles Times having a briefcase tug-of-war with a Best Actress nominee in the hours before she wins the coveted award. And, yes, this is the same briefcase that has it’s own social media presence.
Additionally, as an accountant, you don’t expect to break new ground as the first Latina to hold the role as co-balloting leader, or to be mic’d up and invited on stage with less than five minutes notice to answer questions during a live broadcast in front of forty million people. You don’t expect A-list movie stars and studio heads to ask you to take a picture with them. And, you definitely don’t expect for your face to be posted on social media and shared side-by-side with an award-winning actor, producer and screenwriter who you may, or may not (depending on who you ask), slightly resemble.
It’s all quite humbling, really.
Still, we can’t deny the opportunities we’ve had as a result. Being two of just over a dozen people to have ever held this role has opened just as many doors for us professionally as we hope to open for others. Many have told us that we’re helping redefine what it means to be an accountant or tax professional, and that we’ve helped them rethink their personal career paths. In an industry that is heavily reliant on attracting diverse talent, that’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly.
But at the end of the day, we do what we do because we believe we can make a difference―for businesses, investors, and the general public―by enabling trust and solving problems. And, the beauty of what we do is in the realization that doing so takes place in many forms - from helping businesses adhere to tax codes, to making sure the individuals who bring films to our screens receive the recognition the Academy members wish to bestow upon them. This is truly a career in which you can find yourself buried deep in regulations one minute and then standing next to athletes, artists, actors and talk show hosts the next. In addition to us, our colleagues can certainly attest to that (see here, here, here and here).
So yes, for us these “red carpet” moments are extremely exciting, and even more surreal. They certainly give us a few cool points with our kids. But, the Academy Awards ceremony itself is just the climax of a year-long engagement that involves dedication from teams of people who assist us in enabling the accuracy, security, and confidentiality of the balloting process. That responsibility, ultimately, is what we find most fulfilling.
The secrets we hold close are secrets we hold from everyone―even our spouses and most trusted colleagues. We both have a handful of celebrities we admire and would greatly enjoy meeting, but not even they could wrangle the information from our lips. When we’re standing off stage left and stage right, we’re not star-gazing, and when we hand off envelopes to the world’s most famous actors and actresses, we’re not thinking about who is standing in our presence. We’re thinking about the name that’s written on the card, and we don’t rest until the last OscarⓇ winner is announced.
So, even in our gown and tuxedo, that’s who we are. Two accountants. And, in case you were wondering, that’s why we’re there, standing on the red carpet. Come February, if you see us feel free to ask us about the winners. Just know that we’ll never tell.