The CBS Writing Mentor program is a bit of a home coming for me. Radford is the very first lot I ever spent time on. My final year at Columbia College Chicago I was working full time while taking a full load of classes to graduate. My counselor advised me that I needed just a few more credits to complete graduation. While I was walking back from her office I saw a couple of people gathered around a notice on the bulletin board. The flyer was for a small seminar talking about a semester in Los Angeles program that the school runs.
The seminar was starting in a few minutes down the hall so I decided to check it out. I had always thought that I may eventually have to go to LA to really make my way into the industry but I was never certain of exactly how I would get there. The moderator laid out exactly what the program entailed. Semester credits, seminars from working professionals, the chance to pitch a script to producers plus an internship. There wasn’t any stipend or board, but if you got yourself to LA you’d at least get some type of guidance.
For the final months leading up to my trip I scrimped, saved, and opened up two new credit cards knowing I was probably going to spend everything I had. How people moved without guarantee of a job and place to live was beyond me. As the anxiety mounted I decided to sit down with my first film teacher from freshman year and get his thoughts.
He was an amazing filmmaker in his own right and was very socially conscious of the plight of ethnic representation in Hollywood. We talked about a great many things, but there was one thing he said to me that really struck a chord. He said, “You are the amalgamation of everyone that is in your race, in your family and in your lineage that did not get the opportunities that you got.”
It was pretty profound. I started to realize that this whole journey wasn’t just about myself, but that I was a part of something larger – and that walking through the doors that many before me had struggled to open is an honor and isn’t something to be taken lightly. The day finally came to pack up my beat up car with little more than my clothes and my laptop. The trip was long and tedious and I got more nervous the closer I got to my destination but I arrived without incident.
When I got into the city I was invited to crash with a distant cousin of mine. We weren’t super close but it was a free room for at least the duration of the program. The alumni association for the college rented a bungalow on the CBS Radford lot which is where I and twenty or so others would be for the next few months completing our final semesters.
That morning I parked near the top of the lot. I remember praying for some type of sign that I was on the right path. That everything was going to work out if I just kept my faith. As I entered the glass elevator I could look down over the lot, seeing the sun shine through the trees and bathing it with this golden yellow. I was soon joined by two other people an older MAN and WOMAN.
The Woman turned to the Man and asked, “How were your numbers last night?”
“Great!” He replied. “We went up 2% in the key demo!” I didn’t really know what they were talking about but I remember getting really excited, thinking to myself, “This is the kind of conversation I want to be having. This is where I’m supposed to be.”