Vienna native shines bright at the Oscars

WILMINGTON, N.C. – Vienna native Jessica Riffle Edwards received star treatment at last weekend’s Academy Awards, even though she wasn’t an Oscar nominee and doesn’t work in the entertainment industry.

While in Los Angeles, Edwards had her hair and make-up done by Brittney Rhoades and selected a dress by Badgley Mischka to wear to the Oscars.

She met celebrities Daniel Day-Lewis, Wolfgang Puck, John Travolta, Pharrell, and Bette Midler, and walked along the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards.

After attending the Academy Awards ceremony in the Dolby Theatre Sunday night, Edwards was one of 1,500 VIPs to attend the Governors Ball.

Edwards’ ticket to the Oscars was her success as a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, N.C. Last year, Edwards and her team closed $23 million in real estate sales.

Since 2011, Edwards, 32, has served as an ambassador for the corporate office in New York City as the Coldwell Banker Real Estate consumer specialist. She has spoken at seminars and conferences throughout the United States about her marketing strategies that use video blogs from her car, social media and other technologies.

Edwards, a 2000 graduate of Parkersburg High School, has been interviewed by CNBC, USA Today, Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal on real estate trends and marketing.

Edwards appears in “Your Home” YouTube videos on behalf of Coldwell Banker at the Oscars. A Coldwell Banker commercial aired during the Academy Awards show.

Edwards had a special, surreal connection to two songs performed at the Oscars.

When Pink sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” to celebrate the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz,” Edwards thought, “Are you kidding me.”

That is her mother Amy Riffle’s favorite song. The two texted each other during the Academy Awards.

Another special moment for Edwards occurred when Bette Midler sang “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

That is a favorite song of her aunt Deb Cyran of Vienna and was a favorite song of her grandmother, the late Jean Cyran, who lived in Vienna.

Edwards said she couldn’t believe hearing those songs, which she described as a cool part of the Academy Awards experience.

She said being on the Red Carpet at the Oscars, surrounded by the giants in the entertainment industry, was “neat, surreal and exciting.”

On Saturday, she met actor Day-Lewis and Puck, the famous chef and restaurateur, at a pre-Oscars reception at the Hotel Bel-Air. Day-Lewis took a photograph of Edwards and her sister-in-law, Harriet Mills of Raleigh, N.C., who accompanied her on the trip, standing with Puck in his restaurant at the Hotel Bel-Air.

The Governors Ball was decorated as an enchanted garden, Edwards said, with flowers and greenery attached to the walls. Delicious food was provided by Puck and his staff.

“It was a pretty incredible experience to be so close to the celebrities” at the Governors Ball, Edwards said. “Everybody was nice.”

Photographers rushed toward Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when they entered the Governors Ball, Edwards said. The two stars maintained their “cool” and handled the situation well, she said.

She thought Kate Hudson wore a beautiful dress to the Oscars and Ellen DeGeneres did a good job hosting the Academy Awards, keeping the show light and fun.

There was a lot of “buzz” on Academy Awards weekend before the show that “12 Years a Slave” would win an Oscar for best film, Edwards said.

Edwards noted she is close to her family in Wood County and her parents, Bruce and Amy Riffle of Vienna, have been supportive of her career choices.

“I could not have been successful without their constant support,” Edwards said of her parents.

Edwards, a graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, said she is passionate about working in the real estate business.

“It is all about helping clients and building a business,” she said.

Edwards expects to be involved in a real estate television show in the upcoming weeks.