I grew up in NYC! Downtown Manhattan to be more specific, so that was a pretty wild way to grow up. I’d say it definitely made me more independent. By ten I was riding the bus home from school by myself from the upper east side.
I come from a blended family with parents who divorced when I was young and I have three younger sisters, two of them from my dad’s remarriage. I’ve always been a creative human but my first love was definitely performing and live theater. I’m not so secretly a huge musical theater dork. But a lot of growing up was being confused about my gender and sexuality and it definitely took a toll and made adolescence difficult, to say the least.
You know, I’m not sure if I ever really decided to be a writer. Writing was really important to me as a teenager. It was how I really relieved a lot of the BIG FEELINGS I was having and was a way for me to channel everything I was going through at the time when performing couldn’t fulfill that need. But I think college really beat me down. I wasn’t really classified with the other writers and I had a lot more to figure out about myself and my voice — I didn’t really have a handle on the stories and characters I wanted to write.
It wasn’t until honestly a few years ago — even after I’d written over fifty episodes of my own webseries — that I started to truly embrace myself as a writer again...when I started taking writing classes again and I haven’t looked back since.
I’m based in New England and have been able to accomplish a LOT without being in LA and no one seems to care anymore."
I mean money and time have really been the big ones. I worked full time as a receptionist at a preschool and hosted kid’s birthdays while I was working on my webseries. I was paid terribly and trying to live in Brooklyn. I was really scraping by and was just incredibly busy all the time and burning out a lot.
When I finally went freelance and started cobbling together part-time jobs between performances I was still working seven days a week, and any writing outside of what I was already doing was basically unthinkable.
The writing classes really helped get me back into it with a structure and I did a residency program that got me through the first full draft of my feature that had been taking forever to get through. But writing was really hard to find time for between everything I was doing and it wasn’t really until the pandemic hit and started collecting unemployment that I actually had *time*. I really hit the ground running and pushed out a TON of work and that’s gotten me where I am now.
A Writer's Routine
I have to be on a pretty tight writing schedule right now because I’m in the middle of writing a book! But when I’m not on a deadline like this, I tend to let is flow a bit more loosely. I write pretty much every day but I don’t have a set time and I don’t have a daily word count. I just try to prioritize what needs to be done and when.
I also juggle a lot of things (thanks ADHD!) and like to bounce between projects, so if I get stuck on something I can let it simmer in the back of my brain while I work at something else.
Screenwriting: Reality vs. Fantasy
For me and where I’m at right now, it’s that the money still really isn’t matching the amount of labor I’m putting in. I’m hoping that will change soon, but there’s a big on-ramp to actually making money doing this and even with a book deal, it comes in at weird times and is slow. So, that’s what’s kinda funky for me right now. I’m hoping that’s temporary!
"I have a fidget spinner that I love but shelling pistachios is what got me to the last page of the first draft of my feature!"
Prepping for That First Meeting
Oh boy... I mean, I don’t think I did? I think I might be a bit unique in this because of two things:
- I’m a trained performer so meetings and selling myself comes pretty naturally to me.
- I’m not just a writer and I spent time building a brand and niche reputation for myself before moving into the TV/Film space.
I started doing general meetings like two years before I got a manager. So, no? I don’t think I did much prep outside of researching the person, but that’s just me!
A Writer's Low Moment
Hmmm, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever really thought about quitting, but that has less to do with loving writing than it has to do with believing 100% in my mission of bringing LGBTQ+ and social justice stories and characters to kids' media. It’s a dedication to the activism of it all more than to the craft itself which, I think, has helped keep things afloat for me.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my dark night of the soul. When I first started my webseries in 2016, I was constantly harassed online and my first ever video was dogpiled by thousands of neo-Nazis. So, there’s definitely quite a bit of trauma from that, but I actually think (once I started dealing with the mental health ramifications of that) it caused me to double down on my work! I had a great therapist! That was very very important -- that and the overall mission behind what I’m doing.
Hmmm, this is a tough one. I guess I just really don’t want to let down my community. I want to fulfill my mission but I also really want to fulfill it well. There is barely any LGBTQ+ representation in children’s media, especially in the preschool and family space where I mostly do my work and I’m positioning myself to be one of the small group of creators championing that work. I just want to do right by it.
"Just keep swimming."
Waiting to Exhale: The Other Side of Success[A sigh of relief]... have I had one? I mean, I think it was probably when the book deal was official. That was really my first big emphatic yes. And definitely signing with my manager. The process of finding someone was long and hard and frustrating and I felt like I was just grinding and flying blind in the industry. Kate (my manager) has really taken so much stress off my plate -- it’s been a huge shift already and we’ve only been working together for a few months.
The ScreenCraft Subtext Series is a group of personal interviews with writers who’ve recently taken their first big step into the industry. The interviews hope to shine a spotlight not only on their success but on the journey behind it - the determination, the setbacks, and the persistence that leads a writer to their success. We hope they are inspiring and that you can take a piece of advice or two for forging your path.