MFA, Writing for Screen & Television '17
How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of writing for film and television? Before starting school at SCA, writing was something I did after work, in my free time, and most significantly by myself. After starting here, I have found myself surrounded by people invested in my work in a way that I never had before. Both my professors and my peers are my trusted confidants, collaborators and critics, the sounding boards for the voices inside my head that make their way onto a blank page. At SCA I’ve learned that there is nothing more important in writing for film and television than having those people to work with and trade feedback with, who understand you and your writing. I feel supported here. I feel like I have a team.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to the Screenwriting program? I’m going to steal the advice that got me to fill out my application: “Be a doer, not a dreamer.” Shonda Rhimes said that in her commencement speech at Dartmouth. I watched that speech after getting home from my 9-5 job in NYC and almost immediately started my application to USC. If you dream of being a writer and dream of creating TV shows or making movies, stop dreaming and do it. If you want to do what you love, and if what you love to do is write, then you have to ignore all those fearful voices inside your head and you have to try. So drown out the fear, pick up a pen, write what you love, and see where it takes you. It took me across the country, from a cubicle in midtown Manhattan to the sunny SCA courtyard in Los Angeles.
How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in your discipline? The community I have found at SCA is unparalleled. During orientation they tell you to look to your right and to your left and to know that one day you will probably work for or hire the person next to you. Everyone here is incredibly generous with their time, feedback, and spirit. I have met people whom I know I will be working with for years to come. Thanks to the people I have met here, I am constantly pushing myself to be a better writer. Entering the entertainment industry is daunting and scary, but doing it with the support of your friends, teachers, and peers at SCA makes it not only feel possible, but that much more fun.
What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? Time management. SCA has unlimited opportunities that you constantly want to take advantage of: speakers, screenings, events, lectures, classes, and more. But at the end of the day, I am here to write. One of the most important things we learn here is how to discover our personal writing habits. I have had to explore how to structure my day to be my most productive and successful. It is not easy, but it is completely invaluable.
What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? I’ve always been filled with curiosity and wonder at the world around me. Nothing excites and invigorates me more than escaping into the worlds of other people. I was a journalism major in college and my writing has always been rooted in the discovery and honesty that comes with telling other people’s stories. That background has driven my love to explore, both the world and humankind. I joined dance groups, created a column on the student newspaper, and participated in Greek life. I made friends sailing for three weeks in the Caribbean, meeting Israeli soldiers on Birthright, and befriending British colleagues while studying abroad in London. I have spread my friendships and experiences across the globe and become a constant observer. That curiosity for humanity that lives within me is at the root of everything I write.