Meet Jen Ray. She’s a literary manager at Heroes and Villains Entertainment where her focus is on developing strong female voices across genres. She is proud to have a client list that is 80% women (but please don’t hold that against her male clients.)
Jen also produced the indie comedy For A Good Time, Call… that premiered at Sundance and was distributed by Focus Features. Jen is an alumna of Cornell University and the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC, currently living in Atwater Village with her husband Josh and their two corgis.
If you’re lucky enough to be going to the sold out 2018 ScreenCraft Writers Summit in Atlanta, make sure you check out the panels she’ll be on, including Writing Independent Film: Writing to Produce/Direct your First Feature and Managing Your Manager.
Let’s dive into the interview!
What’s it like being a literary manager?
It’s a) crazy but b) awesome! It’s sort of like being a life coach, therapist, spouse, boss, employee, neighbor, editor and best friend all rolled into one. It is incredibly gratifying when you experience a client’s success but you also experience the lows with them because we really care as much about their career as they do.
What was it like to produce For a Good Time, Call…, have it premiere at Sundance, and distributed by Focus Features?
It was a whirlwind. It was incredibly exciting and empowering but also overwhelming and made me realize I still have so much to learn.
Did you feel like the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC prepared you for what you’ve become?
As much as one can be prepared for this business, yes. The program was incredible and it definitely helped me make the most of the opportunities I’ve been given.
What else are you currently working on?
I am starting a production company with Lauren Miller Rogen.
What’s one show or movie we need right now that hasn’t been made yet?
The Trump Impeachment Variety Spectacular?
What sort of stories excite you?
Stories about how exceptional genius often goes hand in hand with hideous character flaws. Stories that demonstrate in nuanced, empathetic detail how being a shitty person is often a feature of those who change the world, not a bug.
Where do you find inspiration?
Anywhere and everywhere. My parents, CNN, the corners of the internet, books I loved as a kid, my clients. Mostly my clients.
What are you looking forward to the most about the ScreenCraft Writers Summit in Atlanta?
Meeting some new inspirational people!
What’s your advice for screenwriters or producers just starting out?
Figure out what story you have to tell that only you can tell. If it’s a story lots of people could tell, they’ll hire someone more established to write/produce it. You ARE your career, and you will be evaluated on both taken together as one thing, so whatever you write/produce has to be an extension of yourself in a way that adds more meaning to both.
Finally, what is one surprising (non-industry) related fact about you?
I have two corgis (dogs shaped like loaves of bread.) I am a crazy corgi person. And yes I have been to corgi beach day, and yes it was spectacular.