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Student’s star-studded Olympics experience

Closing Ceremony preps

Jessie J getting ready

Opening Ceremony with friends and family

View from Royal Box during rehearsals

Rihanna rehearsal

Chloe CowanRihanna, Jessie J, Michelle Obama, Danny Boyle, the Spice Girls and Coldplay were just a few of the stars that a student from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) worked with during London 2012.

Chloe Cowan, who is in the third year of a degree in BA (Hons) Broadcast Media which is based at Maidstone TV Studios, was Casting Assistant for the Opening Ceremony and Artist Liaison for the Olympic and Paralympic Ceremonies.

Chloe, 25, from Montrose, Scotland, said: “I honestly find it so hard to describe what my Olympic summer was like – it’s an experience you have to go through to truly feel how it felt, like doing a skydive and trying to explain it to an alien. It was simply incredible. 

“It’s been my dream to work on an Olympic ceremony since 2000 when my Dad recorded the Sydney ceremonies – I remember watching them over and again so I felt so lucky to be one of 40 staff to work on London 2012.

“I got a unique view of a global event and met some of the biggest stars in the world, as well as members of the Royal Family and Michelle Obama – I still can’t believe that it all happened.”

Chloe applied for a Games Maker role three years ago and, as her CV was packed with experience in interviewing film stars for magazines, being a published author and Broadcast Media, she was invited to work for the team who organised the Ceremonies.

She explained: “When I applied, I didn’t care what job I was given I just really wanted to be apart of the Olympic experience, whether that was cleaning loos, scrubbing floors or serving food.

“During my interview they mentioned things which I thought weren’t that important at the time, like how I ran a hurricane relief Centre in Texas during Hurricane Katrina and was awarded for this by the Mayor of Texas. I think they could see that I was prepared to get my hands dirty and that I wasn’t in it for the glamour.”

As a Casting Assistant for the Opening Ceremony, Chloe’s duties included: attending cast auditions earlier in the year, doing call-backs, editing audition tapes for Danny Boyle, and during the live ceremony, assisting the cast members on set.

“The casting job was great fun. On the night of the live show, I looked after the Mary Poppins’ and the NHS staff and helped direct them on and off stage while being invisible to the audience and cameras.

The atmosphere was just amazing – electric – I really felt like I was in the best place on the planet that night.

“The reception from the public and the media after was astounding too. When I woke the next day I didn’t want to read the papers, however I needn’t have worried because it was received so well.

“My family and friends still ask how they get the chimneys up and how did the Mary Poppins come in. I’ll let you into a secret: the chimneys were inflatable and were pulled up by a hook and the Mary Poppins’ flew in themselves, of course.”

Chloe was promoted to Artist Liaison for the Closing Ceremony where she was in charge of looking after stars, such as Jay-Z, Rihanna, The Spice Girls, Jessie J and many more.

“The Closing Ceremony was my favourite night. I worked with the cast and artists you saw perform, so for example I walked with Rihanna while she performed in case she needed something, forgot a step or lost a shoe.

“Ahead of the show, I was busy at the rehearsals which took place in a huge Big Top in Dagenham.

“The day the Spice Girls came in to rehearse was so exciting – the entire site was silent as we watched them reunite in front of us. David Beckham even came along with little Harper and his three lovely boys.

“Working at the closing ceremony made me realise just how real these celebs are and that they’re all normal people.”

“I have been encouraged by one of the stars, who I’m still in touch with, to think about working within artist management because of my approach to stardom – it just doesn’t faze me in the slightest.” 

Now in the final year of her Broadcast Media degree, Chloe is starting to think about what she might do after graduating from UCA.

She said: “I’ve been offered some exciting opportunities, including a potential job on Downton Abbey, casting for a film director and artist liaison for a singer. I’ve thought about working for the Commonwealth Games or Winter Olympics but right now, I’m putting all of my efforts into finishing my degree.”  

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