Backstage Pass

Mizzou junior navigates the world of celebrity agents and events

Lauren Rutherford, a junior at the University of Missouri, assembles her team for a Speakers Series event at the Missouri Theatre, November 2014. Photos by Derek Poore

Lauren Rutherford confidently walked to the dressing room at the Missouri Theatre with one thing on her mind: keeping the next celebrity speaker happy. The University of Missouri junior had specially requested tea and snacks ready. There was one loose end: lemon slices. “He needs those for the tea,” she said to a Mizzou Speakers Series staffer.

It’s details like this that has made Rutherford especially good at her job as chairwoman of the campus organization, and she has helped bring to campus the likes of famed primatologist Jane Goodall, kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart and actor Adrian Grenier.

Much of her job on event nights is in the details, and sometimes she has to put out a few fires.


“I run around making sure the speaker is OK, that staff is doing alright. It was a lot to handle, especially the week before the event, but it was all worth it on event night. It’s really cool to see students get excited about something that I’m excited about planning.”


Lauren Rutherford, left, holds a meeting with staffers of the Mizzou Speakers Series in the MU Student Center.
Lauren Rutherford holds a meeting with staffers of the Mizzou Speakers Series in the MU Student Center. The group is responsible for bringing a set of celebrity speakers to campus each semester.

“We also have to do tedious things, like figuring out how to get bacon to Laverne Cox at 3:30 in the afternoon.”

Lauren Rutherford, right, walks back from grabbing a quick dinner with Sarah Mosier. She often eats on the go during event nights.
Putting out fires is part of her job, Lauren says, and making sure all the details and loose ends are taken care of is vital to ensuring the speakers’ performances go off without problems.

“Event day is either really crazy or really relaxed.”

Lauren, right, must sometimes deal with unruly guests or difficult situations that arise on event nights.
Lauren preps her team before an event at the Missouri Theatre with military veteran and “Dancing with the Stars” performer J.R. Martinez.

“The wildest part is when the lights dim, the crowd cheers and we have to walk onstage to get the night started. Overall, we have a ton of fun, and for the most part, our events go off without a hitch.”

Lauren preps her introduction speech with Ryan Gill before a speech by military veteran, at the Mizzou Speakers Series.
Military veteran and “Dancing with the Stars” performer J.R. Martinez is greeted by staffers at the Missouri Theatre in November 2014.
Lauren escorts J.R. Martinez through the basement of the Missouri Theatre from his dressing room to the stage.
Lauren and J.R. Martinez lighten the mood before the event begins backstage at the Missouri Theatre. One of the greatest benefits from her job is the people she meets, Lauren said. “The wildest part is when the lights dim, the crowd cheers and we have to walk onstage to get the night started. Overall, we have a ton of fun, and for the most part, our events go off without a hitch.”
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