East Providence native O’Donnell reflects on 2019 Emmy Award win

Received honor for work on “The Late Late Show” special "Carpool Karaoke"

By Mike Rego
Posted 1/6/20

It was quite literally a “high flying” journey for city native William O’Donnell en route to his recently receiving television’s highest accolade near the end of 2019.Mr. …

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East Providence native O’Donnell reflects on 2019 Emmy Award win

Received honor for work on “The Late Late Show” special "Carpool Karaoke"

Posted

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — It was quite literally a “high flying” journey for city native William O’Donnell en route to his recently receiving television’s highest accolade near the end of 2019.
Mr. O’Donnell was among the crew of camera operators chosen as winners by The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in the category of Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Limited Series, Movie or Special at the 71st Emmy Awards.
Mr. O’Donnell and his cohorts were recognized for their efforts on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” 2019 “Carpool Karaoke” Primetime Special. Mr. O'Donnell and team were selected over entries by their peers from Kennedy Center Honors, The Oscars, The Tony Awards and musical “Rent.”
“My thoughts on receiving the Emmy haven't changed to this day, even months later, it is amazing,” Mr. O’Donnell said last week from Las Vegas where he resides. “I walk in my house everyday and it is on my shelf staring me in the face and I just can't believe it. It is a dream come true in which I didn't know I had that dream.”
For Mr. O’Donnell, who grew up in Riverside, the Emmy was to date a top achievement in a career that has its roots in the city’s school system where he attended Meadowcrest Elementary, Riverside Junior High then graduated from East Providence High School in 2001.
From there, he eventually earned an associates degree in Criminal Justice from the Community College of Rhode Island before joining the Air Force as an intelligence analyst.
Following tours of duty in Texas and Florida, Mr. O’Donnell was last stationed in Hawaii when he suffered a debilitating leg injury, which forced him to retire from the military. Fortunately, he found employment in the federal government in the same field, specializing in unmanned systems/drones and special operations. Later, his wife, Elizabeth, who is an active duty Air Force, received orders to Las Vegas. He left government service then and pursued work in the civilian sector of drones, leading the Federal Aviation Administration Test Site in Nevada as the program manager.
According to Mr. O’Donnell, shortly thereafter, a few of his Air Force veteran friends started a company focusing on commercial drone services in entertainment as well as inspection in the oil and gas industry. At the same time, he also started a private sector curriculum to train drone pilots to enter the industry, with his most memorable student being renowned baseball player Barry Bonds.
A job flying drones for a “Game of Thrones” television show promotional video in Las Vegas in the Bellagio Hotel fountains went viral, catching the eye of The Late Late Show producers, who then requested his services for the Emmy nominated piece.
“Life has taken me in many directions and the current of the water has brought me to where I needed to be at that moment to win it. I hope to capitalize on those opportunities presented and turn them into something even better, for myself, my family, and hopefully others around me,” he said.
Mr. O’Donnell, who is also attempting a career as a voice-over artist, ended last year filming a pilot episode for a reality food show he hosted and planned to shop to various networks. Mrs. O’Donnell is in her 12th year in the Air Force and, according to her husband, plans to do the full 20 years and “make a career of it.”
“(The Emmy) has already turned into great opportunities with the television pilot, which we filmed in November and is currently in post-production editing and will get shopped around in the coming months,” Mr. O’Donnell added. “I hope to keep things rolling with other great things.”

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.