Being at the Emmy’s was a fantastic experience. The HBO movie about my life (Temple Grandin) had been nominated for 15 Emmy Awards. When they announced each award, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When the first award for Julia Ormond as best supporting actress was announced, I jumped up and cheered. She played my mother. The
movie went on to win best supporting actor, best director and Claire Danes won best actress.

Watching Claire Danes play me was like going back in a time machine to the 1960’s and 70’s. When it won best TV movie, we all went up on the stage and I hugged everybody. I then impulsively grabbed the microphone and asked my mother to stand up and be recognized. I wanted her to get the recognition she deserved.

Hollywood reality
It is surreal to be in Hollywood one day and then back in a meat plant a few days later to do animal-welfare auditor training. During the last year, I have gone to several large Hollywood press conferences, in addition to the Emmy awards ceremony and the parties afterward. As I traveled back and forth between the world of the meat industry and the world of Hollywood, I quickly learned that the people in both of these worlds have no idea what the other world is like.

Both sides are very curious about each other’s different worlds. At a big press reception at a recent cable TV
convention, reporters asked question after question about how cattle were raised and slaughtered. It was curiosity, and they wanted to learn more about how cattle are raised and slaughtering procedures. I used the “slaughter” word in Hollywood because it is better not to cover up what we do. I just answered the questions about stunning in a very neutral, factual way. At the Emmy parties, many people came up to me to tell me that they were happy that I was working to improve conditions.

It was also very interesting for me to learn that Hollywood is very different from how it is portrayed in the tabloids, and the news reports about stars getting drunk and behaving badly. Many of my friends in the livestock industry expected Emmy parties to be drunken bashes. That is simply not true. While the booze was free, there was less alcohol consumed at HBO’s after-Emmy party than at some cattle conventions. People were more interested in socializing and making business contacts. This party was just a fancier version of an AMI gala. The main difference was that a lot of famous people were there, such as Tom Hanks, but they were all acting like normal people. The guests were a mixture of actors, producers and business people. They were all socializing and networking. At 12:30 a.m., the party broke up without incident and people went home.

Another thing I learned from the movie experience is that the project worked because the right team of people was working on it. I have found that having the right team is also essential for my design and consulting projects.

During my 35-year career, I have learned that successful projects depend on having the right people in the right places. The movie project started with Emily Gerson Saines, who is the mother of a child with autism. She runs an acting agency in New York. It took 10 years for her to assemble the right team of people. The third team of people she assembled made the movie project work. They were Mick Jackson, the director; Claire Danes, the actress; and Christopher Monger, the writer.

Mick Jackson totally understood my visual way of thinking and the movie shows it beautifully. I loved how they duplicated all my projects from original photos and drawings.

Dr. Temple Grandin operates Grandin Livestock Systems Inc., Fort Collins, Colo., and is a faculty member in the animal science department at Colorado State Univ.