One never stops learning, life is patterned that way, you ALWAYS and forever learn until you can no longer breathe air. It is how one absorbs the lesson and takes heed to the lesson, however, that matters most. Each lesson is designed to help one grow.
Back in the day, when I was younger and inexperienced about certain aspects of life, I fancied being an actress. I studied at an acting conservatory in my hometown then I moved to Los Angeles, California and was excited about “breaking in” to Hollywood. I learned it was not the business of Hollywood that was difficult for me to navigate, it was the people in Hollywood that made “breaking in” very tough. I was always independent, not the type of person who ran with the pact; I was never into cliques, not in school not anywhere. In Hollywood, however, if you are not part of that closed door “clique” if you’re not someone’s relative, lover, spouse or partner, if you have no one to usher you in, you can’t get in.
An example of one type of “clique’ is that I was once referred to an acting agent who offered to represent me. We sat, we talked, he told me the parts I would be good for. And then in his next breath he said, “Oh, by the way if we started dating…” (Whoa, what?) I walked out, or ran out, of his office and never looked back. I was not scared, I was angry. Why the f**k did I need someone getting ten percent of my paycheck as a boyfriend? I wasn’t in his office looking for a date and what did dating have to do with finding me a job anyway? I had begun not to like Hollywood, but I persevered. Except…
…I dropped acting and turned to writing plays, something I had done since I was a young girl. I did not need to “date” an agent to put on a play, so I stuck with it. I enjoyed writing, I especially enjoyed writing dialogue, plays in particular. My biggest playwright influences at that time was Neil Simon and Jules Pfeiffer, mainly because of the way they crafted their characters’ monologues, long and drawn out.
While still living in Los Angeles I joined a playwrights group, wrote a couple short plays, even won an award for one of my plays. It was through the writing group that I met actors and people behind the scenes of television shows. I made friends with some of the people behind the scenes who seemed nice enough to me. And the best part about those friends, they appreciated my writing skills. Cool! I was part of the Hollywood clique and all I needed to do was be talented.
I shared some of my writing work with those people whom I trusted, people who promised to help me become a writer for television. Back then I wrote my scripts on a very slow Brother Word Processor and saved them on floppy disks, anyone old enough to remember floppys? My friends gave me scripts to study, they read my treatment ideas and I felt confident I had finally found my way.
A few years later I found it difficult to support myself in Los Angeles; I lost my job, greedy apartment landlords evicted us tenants and sold our refurbished apartments as condos. I returned to San Francisco “fallen down, but not destroyed.” To make me feel better about my failed attempt at Hollywood I watched two of my favorite television shows, In Living Color and Married With Children. I watched them every season they ran on television. During Season 5 of In Living Color and Season 6 of Married with Children, I noticed two of my script ideas were filmed on those shows. Now, back then I was upset. I never said anything about those scripts, matter of fact, I kept them hidden away in storage. I thought to myself, “wow, I sure am naïve.”
One never stops learning, life is patterned that way, you ALWAYS and forever learn until you no longer breathe air.
What did I learn after my years in Hollywood? I learned that there are people, not just in Hollywood, but all over, who are more ambitious than me, more aggressive and more cut throat than I could ever be and that is fine with me. Someone out there wants something harder than me and will do whatever they have to do to get it, good for them. I may not be part of a certain type of “clique,” I may not be aggressive and “cut throat,” but I am talented enough to keep writing and talented enough to have my work be in the clique. I have decided I no longer need to run and hide embarrassed that someone took my ideas and profited from them. I am, therefore, proud to show off my work and to state “hey, here is where you can see my work!” I learned about myself that I am one good writer who wrote two pieces that are forever part of Tee Vee history. And there it is! I’m kind of proud of myself, actually.
Until next time, Cheers! (Another of my favorite shows, but one I never scripted an idea for)
Married With Children – (written by L.D. Sargent) Episode idea title: “Dedicated to His Feet.” Al has a Shoe Groupie. Married with Children (Fox TV, December, 1991) Season 6, Episode title: “So, This is How Sinatra Felt.”
In Living Color – (written by L.D. Sargent) Episode idea title: “Yo Mamma The Game Show” parody. In Living Color (Fox TV, 1993) Season 5, Episode Title: “The Dirty Dozens,” game show parody