I was what sociologists called a “third culture kid,” but as a child it never felt as though a single term could possibly embody the maelstrom that was growing up in five different countries. From Portugal to Brazil, to Korea, Japan, Vietnam, then back to Korea… there was always something new and always so much to learn. I was a lucky child.
But there were things that were not so lucky; every three years my family would move, forcing me to hit the reset button and rebuild my world from scratch. On top of being a foreigner in an unfamiliar land, I was an only child. It got pretty lonely at times. Books, movies and television became my escape, the anchor that secured me to a place for as long as I wanted.
Soon, that anchor became writing.
I wrote short stories that came from a place of loneliness, of not belonging. Always searching for the meaning of “home.” I had always been a voracious reader of fantasy and science fiction books, but through writing I started creating worlds of my own where I – and anyone else – could belong. But for the most part, I wrote for myself.
It wasn’t until I had graduated from college and found myself trapped within the four walls of my cubicle job that I began to write for not just myself, but for others like me. It was also around this time when Erika, my writing partner, and I began to talk about screenwriting and the possibility of joining creative forces.
We were drawn to each other not only because of our mutual obsession over the same TV shows (Battlestar Galactica), but because we both shared a very similar experience of being uprooted from our motherlands and growing up in a different one.
Writing with a partner taught me the art of collaboration. Our skillsets proved to be complementary, and we brought out the best from one another. If I were “A” and Erika were “B,” then together we created “C,” which was so much better than A or B. C is what ended up on the page.
We essentially performed as a small writers room. We were each other’s support system, providing a safe, creative environment. A beginning of a community. This became my new anchor.
As I moved out to Los Angeles to join my writing partner, I worked hard to build my/our community. I was fortunate to have attended the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television as an MFA candidate in screenwriting, where I met some of the most wonderful and talented writers, producers and directors. The friends I’ve made and the relationships forged are probably the two most invaluable things I’ve gotten out of film school.
At the same time, I went against all my introverted tendencies and met up with writers that I had “met” via social media and Facebook groups. Erika and I went to countless mixers and events, where we met likeminded aspirants. After almost three years, we have a community that we can call our own, and we continue to fortify it through the CBS Writers Mentoring Program. As we swim deeper into the treacherous waters of Hollywood, we will be able to depend on our community – our anchor – to keep us steady.
So many of us have trodden very lonely paths (see: third culture kid) to get here (what “here” means, you decide). But Hollywood is an industry that is incredibly collaborative, composed of hundreds of communities: networks, studios, production companies, guilds; film schools, fellowships, labs, and workshops. You can’t do it alone. Luckily, you are not alone.
So build your community, your support system, whatever you want to call it. Surround yourself with the very best of your peers. Be inspired by them, and then strive to inspire them in return. Create an environment where you are not different but diverse. Find your anchor.
Then, of course, keep writing.