'It's an Emmy!' for Starkville's Harkness

August 29, 2010 3:26:00 AM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Former Starkville resident Andy Harkness may have to get used to walking across some very big stages. The Walt Disney Animation Studios art director and visual development artist emerged a winner at the 62nd Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles Aug. 21. In February, the 38-year-old won an Annie Award -- the animation industry''s Oscar.  


Harkness, the son of Dr. John and Jenny Harkness of Starkville, and Ellen Butz of West Lafayette, Ind., took home the prestigious golden statuette for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation, as art director for the ABC holiday special, "Prep & Landing." 


The program was animation''s big winner. It was named Outstanding Animated Program and garnered two other Emmys for individual achievement. More than 70 trophies were awarded at the ceremony, which kicked off the week leading up to the Aug. 29 Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast. 


Harkness had been notified he''d won an Emmy in advance of the actual ceremony, so "I wasn''t nervous about that -- it was getting up in front of 5,000 people that got me a little spooked!" he said. 


"I had never been to anything so fancy," the Starkville High School alumnus remarked. "About a third of the way through the show someone came and got us and took us backstage." As several individual winners waited in line behind a huge curtain shielding them from the audience, "I peeked out and spotted Robin Williams sitting in the front row!" 


Winners had been told beforehand to keep their acceptance to 15 seconds, "but right before they called my name, they said they had run out of time and that we needed to walk out, wave, and get back off stage. Honestly, I was a little relieved," he confessed. 


Actor Seth Green ("Austin Powers") presented Harkness his award. 


"I walked out there, waved and somehow got a big laugh; I hope they were laughing with me!" the animator chuckled. "The party afterwards was fun; it reminded me of a high school prom on steroids." 


While the actual ceremony may have short-changed the former Mississippian of his acceptance speech on stage in Los Angeles, he won''t miss a second opportunity. 


"I didn''t get a chance to say the two thank you''s that I really wanted to say on stage, but I can say them now. Thank you to my award-winning Starkville High School art teacher, Nelle Elam. The things she taught me stay with me to this day. Not only about art, but about life. And to the amazing Brent Funderburk -- an artistic force in Starkville and beyond and a constant source of inspiration to me." 


Harkness remains busy working on several Disney projects, as well as writing and illustrating a children''s book scheduled for release in 2011.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.