• James Parry

Former Hudsonite shares Emmy Award


PHOTO BY ALLANA HARKIN

Trading in his usual on-screen hard hat and jeans for suit and tie, Michael Lagimodiere with his Emmy Award was all smiles at the gala evening in California this past weekend.

As a young guy growing up in Hudson, Michael Lagimodiere discovered that he liked building things and working in construction. After a few years with a partner and mentor, he would go on to branch out on his own specializing in small renovations and decks and the like throughout the community.

Little realizing that he would go on to host a smash hit show titled Giver on TVO in Toronto. And that one day - this past Sunday, April 29, to be exact - his skills and some others learned along the way would see him on stage at the 45th Daytime Emmy Awards in Pasadena, California, accepting the coveted award for Outstanding Educational Series.

Contacted in Brooklyn, New York, where he now lives with his wife, Allana Harkin, and their two daughters, and now builds custom motorcycles, Lagimodiere told The Journal in an exclusive interview, “This award is a great acknowledgement of the effort that so many people put in, including JJ Johnson, Matt Bishop, Blair Powers, Kristen McGregor, Rennata Lopez, and of course my beautiful wife, Allana.”

So what is Giver, which started shooting in 2011 and which has since completed four seasons, all about? Explains Lagimodiere, who is the hands-on host, “It's a live action TV series that inspires children aged six to 12 to get involved and contribute to the places where they live by reclaiming and enhancing local playground spaces in parks they go to.

“With a deadline of only three days to bring their vision to life, they must decide on the playground's theme, find out what their community wants, and how they will build it. And with their dream in mind, they need to work together with a definite plan of action.”

To date the show, produced by Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment (SSE), has created 34 playgrounds in 44 episodes, with six kids per episode, and literally thousands of volunteers. They include a park for foster children, a deaf camp, a special needs park, and Canada's biggest playground.

“What I think Giver did apart from being a most incredible experience,” says Lagimodiere, “was to empower youngsters who aren't generally given a platform to voice their opinion, to show them that their ideas, their work, and their enthusiasm can become something concrete that will stay in their community. And they really worked hard.”

Adds Lagimodiere, who plans to visit Hudson this summer, “It's something I'm very proud to have been part of. The crew, the show, and the communities themselves were all as gracious as could be imagined. Gratitude and joy.”

When asked if growing up in Hudson, a community synonymous with volunteerism for so many worthwhile causes, better equipped him for the role as host, Lagimodiere didn't hesitate. “For sure. Hudson was and still is a small town. And my parents, Simon and Margaret, were always involved with volunteer work. In fact, I learned from being dragged around as a kid that it’s important to build the community you want to live in, and not wait for it to be done for you.”

As for another series of his Emmy Award-winning show, Lagimodiere could only say that the future is uncertain right now, “But you never know!”

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