It’s Premiere night Fall 2012 at CBS. I’m in a room with other emerging writers, not yet staffed. We make small talk before we get to why we’re there.
I hear one of the executives mention, we’re having a party, a lot of our talent are here in the other room. I thought how did I get here? I moved to Los Angeles a year ago, knowing only my cousin who had no interest in Hollywood. Before that I lived in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Then I remembered 2006, when I had just finished grad school at Berkeley, but the Recession forced me to back home because I was jobless.
I had few friends, a bunch of unrealized goals, anger, and the squeeze of my family every day to find a job. But no song bird was coming from the endless job applications I put in. That’s when the depression started. I slept a lot, stayed in my room for days, and told no one. To get my mind off things, I read books. One of them was about this young kid in the 80’s who was feeling his own squeeze. Daily he came home with nose bleeds and cuts from kids picking on him. Daily he was put down by his family to feel less than human. His only friend was a much older kid in a gang. To join, eventually he’s asked to kill a cop. His decision would change his life, and make me realize, I too had a life-altering decision to make.
Was I going to keep sticking my thumb out, applying for jobs and waiting for them to pick me up, or was I willing to walk away from that?
I walked. Mostly to a library every day. I always wanted to write screenplays, so in the library I checked out screenwriting books, and taught myself the basics.
From 2007-2011 all I did was write screenplays and lie to my parents that I was in my room all day because I was applying for jobs.
What I wrote during that 3-year span got me into the MFA screenwriting program at USC, which in turn got me into the CBS program.
Also during my 2007-2011 interregnum, I researched and optioned the rights to that book. And since then I never forgot how that kid’s story, gave me a reason to wake up. Get out of bed. Get out there!
One day I hope to tell that story….