MONESSEN (KDKA) — The Academy Awards are this Sunday, and Monessen native Frances McDormand is up for best actress for the film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
So folks in her hometown of Monessen have come up with a clever way to honor her, with their own billboard.
It sits along Interstate 70 and reads: “One Billboard. One Monessen Alumna. One Frances McDormand. Congratulations!”
“She was an excellent student,” said retired Monessen English teacher Virginia Monaghan. “Very quiet, but focused on her work. She was a majorette. She was in the glee club.”
She also remembers in ninth grade when McDormand played Lady Macbeth.
“I knew then that she had the talent,” Monaghan said.
Her talent was undeniable after McDormand won an Oscar for “Fargo.”
Her latest nomination comes from a movie about a mother out for justice after her daughter is killed.
So does Monaghan think McDormand will take home another Academy Award?
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed because we went wild when she won for ‘Fargo’ in 1997,” Monaghan said. “I was teaching then and that is a big thing for a for a small town like this.”
Lamar Advertising agreed to donate space for billboard. The mayor helped come up with the wording.
“I thought it would be a fun play on the movie to do one billboard outside Monessen, so since she grew up here, it was a nice tribute, ” said Mayor Matt Shorraw.
Monaghan’s daughter is Melanie Taylor from the “Bubba Show” on Star 100.7, and in a recent radio interview, McDormand said Monaghan was one the teachers who made a real impact on her.
“That was the foundation for my life as an actor because I was really shy. I was really geeky, but I read books. That was my harbor, reading books,” said McDormand.
McDormand hasn’t forgotten where she’s from. She’s returned to talk with students and recently donated money to help the school get new curtains in the auditorium.
Monaghan and others in Monessen hope their billboard sends a message.
“Hers in the movie were about grief and rage, but ours is congratulatory and pride,” she said.