Homegrown Hollywood: Meeting about a script as terrifying as auditioning
A few weeks ago, I was pacing outside of a producer’s office, feeling like I might throw up.
I took another loop around the block, trying to kill time before my meeting and felt another wave of doubt wash over me. What was I doing here? Hadn’t I come to Los Angeles to be an actor?
I turned the corner and tried to causally pass the hair salon I had already walked by three times. I smiled at the confused stylist and tried to breathe – reminding myself how I’d gotten to this point.
About a year ago, I had started feeling that maybe I was interested in pursuing something other than acting. It terrified me at first. I had moved here for acting. I had spent seven years of my life pursuing that goal, and slowly I was starting to feel that it wasn’t making me happy. Or rather, there might be something else that made me happier.
What I really loved was telling stories. More specifically, writing them. Even though I had always been interested in writing – even earned a college degree in it – I had pushed away those thoughts, wanting to focus all of my attention on my acting career.
A car horn blared and brought me back to the present. I checked my phone and realized it was time for my meeting. I shook the stress from my hands and walked in to the office. A very young, very thin receptionist asked me to find a seat on one of the red leather lounge chairs in the waiting area. I picked up a Hollywood Reporter and pretended to read it as my mind drifted back again to a year ago.
After I had finally admitted to myself I was interested in something other than acting, I decided to try telling a story that was important to me, almost like a test – to see if I could really do it. So I sat down and wrote something close to my heart.
A TV pilot about North Dakota.
It was a story I had wanted to tell for a long time. And it felt great – like I was doing something that I really loved. And when I auditioned, I would think about how much I would rather be writing. I would look around the casting office and feel like I didn’t quite belong.
But now, sitting in the producer’s office, I was starting to feel that same way. When I finished my script, I sent it to my manager, who sent it to this producer. He asked to meet me, and now, here I was, sitting on a sofa that was more expensive than my car, waiting to take my first writer’s meeting.
I took a sip of the purified water the hungry-looking receptionist had given me and tried not to feel like a fraud. Was I really equipped to be here?
I closed my eyes and willed myself to think about my childhood in North Dakota – my “happy place” trick in stressful situations. Memories of summers spent sitting on the roof outside my bedroom window writing stories flashed in my mind.
Weekends dedicated to writing movies with titles like “Dolls in the Night” that I made my friends perform as my father patiently recorded us. Nights spent journaling endlessly about basketball games and big dreams. Vacations in Minnesota spent getting so wrapped up in books that my mom would finally have to yell, exasperated, “LOOK AT THE SCENERY.”
I was still that girl. Maybe she had become buried a bit under the single-minded pursuit of something else, but I could still feel her, beating quietly in my heart.
I was a writer.
I reminded myself of that when I walked into the producer’s office. He smiled, shook my hand and offered me a chair.
Looking at me from across the table, he cleared his throat.
“So, how long have you been a writer?”
“All my life.”