Marisa Torelli-Pedevska

Marisa Torelli-Pedevska

MFA, Writing for Screen & Television '22

What inspired you to want to study the cinematic arts?

It wasn’t until college that I considered a career in TV and film. Up until then, I had planned on pursuing special education or social work, after spending many years living and working at a residential camp for people with a wide range of developmental disabilities. When I realized that I couldn’t find anyone like my campers in TV or film, I was determined to make a change when it came to who we see on screen. After college, I worked at NBCUniversal in the Page Program, but quickly realized I wasn’t going to become a better storyteller unless I dove deeper into learning the craft of screenwriting. I knew USC would be the perfect place to start. I'm passionate about writing stories that explore human potential and what it means to be “normal.” The most important thing for me is following my gut—in my life and my writing. 

What scholarship awards did you receive directly from SCA?

I received the Jay Roach Endowed Scholarship.

What has been the impact of receiving a scholarship from SCA?

This funding has been a big help in financing my time at USC, as I am currently dealing with multiple chronic illnesses that have made school more challenging to manage. My time at USC has taught me that the best thing you can do as a storyteller is remember why you wanted to tell stories in the first place. That “why” has pushed me to be a better writer, and will continue to push me as a I continue to learn and grow. This award has inspired me to keep on chasing this dream and to remember the “why” behind what I do.

What has been your favorite class or project at SCA thus far?

Definitely my feature rewrite course. This semester I developed one of the most important skills in screenwriting, and that's being able to rewrite a feature length screenplay. It's hard to take something you've written and toss most of it, but once you become less precious with your writing, it becomes so much easier to make the story better.

What is a meaningful experience you've had while at SCA?

Last fall I had the opportunity to co-write a short film with a close friend of mine who is a production student. Getting to be a part of that process was definitely a highlight for me, especially since we were telling a story we both cared so deeply about.

What are your career goals after graduation?

I came to SCA thinking I was going to pursue TV first. I had never written a feature film before coming to USC, but now that I have, I've found that I really love that process too. While I'd still love to work in a collaborative writers' room, I'm also excited to continue writing features after graduation.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to apply to SCA?

Tell the stories you want to see on screen. Even if you think people won't be interested. If you're interested in the story, chances are someone else will be too. The scripts I've written that I'm most proud of are the ones that I had a passion to tell. When applying to SCA, show them what you are genuinely passionate about outside of entertainment.