Actors sometimes make the rounds, promoting the movies they’re in. But did you know that the Oscars Ballot Briefcase goes on tour, too?
Did you know that there is an Oscars Ballot Briefcase?
Well, there is.
It looks like just a regular briefcase, but once a year, it holds something precious: the names of the Academy Award winners.
The Ballot Briefcase (affectionately called Briefy by one of its handlers, Lingda Yang) is now touring the country. Besides promoting the 89th annual awards ceremony on Feb. 26, it’s attending events for employees at accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the company that tabulates the ballots for the awards, and doing a little sightseeing.
Briefy (who flies coach, but travels in a secure briefcase of her own) is a popular gal (yes, she’s a she), with a social media following that rivals many B-list celebrities.
Briefy (and Yang) stopped by the Star Tribune to talk about her twin, security and what she does when she’s out of the spotlight.
1. Where did Briefy come from?
Brian Cullinan, one of two partners at PwC who tallies Oscars votes before the big night, said he bought the designer briefcase — and its duplicate — at a luggage store in 2014 to replace the aging cases they’d used previously.
2. So Briefy isn’t the only Oscars Ballot Briefcase?
Nope. There are two briefcases used for the awards ceremony. Cullinan and his colleague Martha Ruiz each take one briefcase filled with the winners’ names.
3. Is using two briefcases the only security measure taken?
No way. They take two separate cars and use different routes to the ceremony in case one of them gets stuck in traffic. During the Oscars, they stand on separate sides of the stage handing envelopes to the presenters.
Cullinan and Ruiz are the only people who know the winners before the presenter reads the name, and they memorize all of them. There is no master list or electronic copy of the winners. They are only in the envelopes and in Cullinan’s and Ruiz’s heads.
4. Does Briefy contain the winning envelopes now?
No, because the winners haven’t been chosen. Voting closes on the Tuesday before the Sunday ceremony. The votes are tabulated by Friday. The winning ballots are put into the briefcase on the Saturday before the show, and the briefcase is sealed until the presenters walk on the stage.
5. What does Briefy do the rest of the year?
When she’s not touring the country or at the Oscars, she is locked in an undisclosed location.
6. What’s Briefy really like?
According to Yang, she can be a bit of a diva. Briefy travels in a bulletproof metal briefcase, which Yang takes as a carry-on when they fly.
7. How does she stay secure?
While on tour, Briefy is never left alone. She accompanies Yang to dinner and spends the night in Yang’s hotel rooms.
On Oscars day, both briefcases remain with Cullinan and Ruiz, who also have security guards. While backstage at the ceremony, a representative from the Los Angeles Police Department stands guard.
8. Has she ever been in danger?
Cullinan said there haven’t been any incidents or security breaches. That may be because of the strict security surrounding both briefcases, most of which aren’t shared with the public.
9. Where else has Briefy been?
Minneapolis is the sixth stop on the 11-city tour, which included New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago. Then she’ll be on to Los Angeles by way of Miami, Dallas, Houston, Mexico City.
10. How can I keep up with her travels?
Briefy has a Snapchat (@BallotBriefcase) account and her hashtag #BallotBriefcase on Instagram and Twitter.
Kelsy Ketchum is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.