It was 16 years ago that Charley Cullen Walters touched down in Sydney as a college student about to spend the school year studying abroad. While his peers were ready to party, he had more than cans of Fosters on his mind.
“They all went straight to the beach and I went straight to the Olympics office,” said the now 37-year-old Walters, founder and chief executive officer of West Hollywood PR firm CW3PR.
Walters timed his trip to coincide with the 2000 Summer Olympics, where his volunteer experience would serve as the launch pad to his attendance at eight consecutive Summer and Winter Games. He returned a few weeks ago from a monthlong stay in Rio de Janiero, where he produced content for Bravo, the Advocate, and People magazine while riding a wave of what he called physical and emotional highs.
“It’s hard for me to say it’s mixing work and fun, because to me it’s all fun,” said Walters.
The diversity of the games, the enthusiasm of Brazilian fans, and the record number of LGBT athletes at this year’s games made Rio one of Walters’ favorites Olympics yet. And while the events are over, his work continues. He brings together celebrities and Olympic athletes in a series of events he calls “Gold Meets Golden” during the Hollywood awards season.
“I like to say I’ve become a gold medal spectator and journalist,” he said.
Mike Stommel, founder and chief executive of Lucky Break PR in the Fairfax District, got a glimpse of what it’s like to audition for a commercial thanks to his sister, Allison Paisley.
“My sister is an actress and works with a couple casting directors and they were looking for same-sex families,” said Stommel, 39, who’s married to Alfredo Diaz, who works in business development for El Segundo’s W.E. O’Neil Construction. “And she submitted us without me knowing.”
The role was for an Airbnb commercial that would run globally. At first, the audition started off simple with the casting director asking his husband and children, Jackson, 5, and Charlie, 8, a few questions.
“Then out of the blue, he’s like OK, I want you all to dance,” Stommel said. “Jackson wouldn’t do a thing and was hiding behind us and I was sweating because it was so hot in there.”
Stommel said even though they “bombed” the audition he would be open to the experience again.
“I think if it’s more organic where we’re not forced to do something like dance on cue I would be open to it,” he said.
Staff reporters Hayley Fox and Subrina Hudson contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Jonathan Diamond. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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