Isabella ’13 to meet Downton Abbey producer


DOWNTON ENTHUSIAST: Isabella ’13 dazzles in an Edwardian hat from 1911 and a mourning cape from the 1880s. Photo contributed by Isabella '13.

In February, Director of Admis­sions Jeanette Woo Chitjian called Isabella ’13 into her office, grabbed her by the shoulders and whispered, “You have to be calm…you won.”

Isabella immediately burst into tears. She had won the 2012 Guerin Prize.

“That was honestly the best mo­ment of my life,” Isabella recounts with palpable excitement. “This is what I’ve wanted more than anything.”

In her submission to the Guerin Prize, an annual contest that offers girls from the junior class the op­portunity to meet the living Ameri­can whom they most admire, Isabella wrote an essay about Rebecca Eaton, the executive producer of PBS Mas­terpiece Theatre.

“She seems so much like the per­son I want to be when I’m older,” Isabella said.

Isabella said the Guerin Prize was one of the elements of the School that first intrigued her, and writing the essay had always been in the back of her mind—long before the rules and deadlines were announced to the Class of 2013 in late 2011.

Eaton introduced American audi­ences to British period pieces, which have significantly spiked in popular­ity in recent years. Her credits in­clude the Complete Jane Austen, the remake of Upstairs, Downstairs and the popular Downton Abbey.

Woo Chitjian said that one ben­efit of being a reader on the Guerin Prize Committee is hearing about the individuals students admire and choose to write their essays on, ex­posing her to a bigger world.

“I had never heard of Downton Abbey before,” Woo Chitjian said. “After I read Isabella’s essay, Re­becca Eaton and Downton Abbey are now on my radar, and I pay more attention.”

Woo Chitjian also holds prac­tice interviews with the six semi-finalists before they each have a fi­nal interview with former Trustee Rick Guerin.

Isabella, an avid fan of these Brit­ish series, said she is fascinated by 19th century costume design and of­ten incorporates vintage and Victo­rian styles into her clothing.

Isabella will travel to Boston lat­er this year to meet Eaton with her chosen chaperone, English instruc­tor and fellow Downton Abbey fan, Reid Cottingham.

“When she applied for this I re­ally hoped she’d get it,” Cottingham said. “She feels very deeply about the characters on the show.”