After winning an Oscar, Luke Matheny hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
On March 14, the slim, 6-foot-4 filmmaker with the curly afro returned to Concord High School, his alma mater, and was treated like royalty. Upon arriving at the school’s entrance, a red carpet was laid out before him, along with a 10-foot replica of an Oscar. Matheny’s arrival sparked a mini flash photography session, as he was greeted by his mother DiAnn (who now lives in Florida), girlfriend Sasha Gordon, former teachers, Concord faculty, Gov. Jack Markell and a swarm of media.
Matheny, Oscar in hand, visited Concord for the school’s screening of his film “God of Love,” which won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short on Feb. 28. Despite his achievement, the 1993 Concord graduate admitted his recent success was a surprise.
“I thought it would [be] something that would happen, maybe, in my late 70s, but it’s amazing for it to happen kind of early in my career,” Matheny said of winning an Oscar.
During an interview session with reporters, the 35-year-old filmmaker described his return to Concord as “amazing,” adding he enjoyed seeing his former teachers, neighbors and replica of an 10-foot Oscar. While reminiscing about his high school years, Matheny said he performed in all the school plays and participated in “typical dork stuff” like being a class officer, member of the honor society and member of Concord’s homecoming float committee.
Although he doesn’t think his peers would’ve labeled him as a “cool” kid, Matheny said he was “well known” and “had a lot of friends and great memories [at Concord].”
Moreover, the governor believes Matheny’s success is living proof of what could become of the current and future students at Concord.
“It’s great for [Matheny] to come back and show kids from Delaware that you can come from a small state and still have big dreams,” Markell said.
In honor of his hometown pride and willingness to give Delaware a “shout-out,” during his acceptance speech at the Oscars and in his Academy Award-winning film “God of Love,” Markell named Matheny “Delaware’s Ambassador to Hollywood.”
In the comedic film, Matheny stars as Raymond Goodfellow, a lounge-singing dart thrower who’s in love with his drummer Kelly (portrayed by Marian Brock). After praying to God for Kelly to fall in love with him, Raymond receives a box of love-inducing darts and experiences love, as well as an unexpected twist.
Matheny’s girlfriend Gordon, who is a composer, provided music for “God of Love.”
Prior to Concord’s screening of the film, Matheny took the stage in the school’s auditorium and received applause and cheers from more than 500 students. After the 18-minute film ended, the filmmaker received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Page 2 of 2 - He then answered questions that students submitted on a note card. One question read: “How did your time at Concord influence the final result [of ‘God of Love’]?”
Matheny, who grew up in Brandywine Forge, responded by saying, “High school is where it all happens” and “This is the most intense times of your life; the most painful relationships are formed.”
For students interested in making films, Matheny suggested they write in a daily journal, since he used this technique throughout high school and it helped him to organize his thoughts.
Sierra Harris, who is the Concord vice president of student council, said it was “an honor” for Matheny to revisit the school.
“I’m pretty sure when [Matheny] was our age, he was never expected to get an Oscar,” said the 17-year-old Harris.
As an aspiring R&B singer, Harris said she, too, plans to become famous in the entertainment industry.
With Matheny’s newfound fame, the filmmaker told reporters he and Gordon are moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in April.
Matheny is currently in the process of writing a full-length feature comedy entitled “Ron Quixote,” loosely based on “Don Quixote.”
Andre Lamar is a staff writer for the Community News, a sister paper to the Dover Post.