I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, like millions of others. Having come from a theatre background and only briefly dabbled in TV, Film, and Commercials previously, I wasn’t sure where my passion lay beyond “acting”. I was excited by these unexplored mediums, and that was all I knew. So I made the L.A. plunge.
I gave it my all – taking a variety of classes, attending networking events, doing thorough research, watching everything I could get my hands on, and landing an agent. And through that process, I found myself being more and more drawn to Television. I love the episodic nature of it, the ability to really develop and explore different storylines with the same group of characters. I love the idea of the tight-knit family that is created when you work with the same cast and crew for years. When I imagined my ideal life, that imagine now always includes me as a series regular. My recent experience working on CBS’ show Rush Hour confirmed my love of TV – I had an incredible time working with the hilarious Justin Hires and Jon Foo, and director Sylvain White was gracious and treated me as if I were a recurring character, giving me slight re-directions between takes. My passion didn’t lead me astray: I love working on TV.
But the fact of the matter is that most of the year an actor is out of work. I had only been in L.A. for a year when I knew that I couldn’t just wait for my agent to call. That was when I decided to create my own work by writing and producing a short film where I could show off my scientific knowledge. That experience had the benefit of focusing my energy, connecting me with other creators in the industry, and teaching me new skills. I was hooked. This spring, I created the webseries Magic for Muggles, exploring my take on what Hermione Granger (from the world of Harry Potter) did after the end of the Wizarding War depicted in the famous franchise. Once again, the project was multifaceted in that it got me excited while I both created work for myself and learned new skills (hello Final Cut Pro X!)
As I’ve created these mini projects, I’ve found myself really fascinated by screenwriting. About a year ago, I started listening to every single episode of the wonderful podcast ScriptNotes. I read a few books about screenwriting. I began searching for scripts of TV and Film that I was already familiar with, comparing what was written on the page to what ended up on screen. I started reading the scripts of friends and giving them thoughts/notes on them.
I’m not sure where this passion for screenwriting came from – I write blog posts, but I’ve never considered myself a writer. But it was an idea I couldn’t let go. So I took a class focused on writing a feature, and after the first week my instructor asked if I would prefer to write an original pilot instead. Um, YES. TV is where my head is – I kept thinking about different current shows I wanted to spec (write my script using that world and characters) and ended up writing an original pilot. And then another one, before the class was over.
Since we are currently in haitus (there is hardly anything casting in Los Angeles), I want to stay active in the industry. By studying the scripts of successful shows, working my writing muscle, and getting more familiar with different script structures, I’m gaining a deeper understanding of the industry. While I love acting, I don’t have any control over when I will get to work on a major studio again. But I am enjoying writing, and that is something that is very much in my control.
I just heard an interview with Glen Hansard on Off Camera with Sam Jones where he said something to the effect of ‘if you hold on too tightly to what your idea of your career is, you will miss out on things you couldn’t even imagine.’ The jist of his thought was that you need to give yourself and your career some room to breathe, to allow possibilities to take shape. And for me, that seems to include writing, a career path I had never considered. But it keeps me in the loop with what is happening in television, it allows me to meet and talk with other people in the industry, and it is something I truly enjoy. I’m following the passion, and I trust that it will lead me down trajectories beyond what I can think of.