I was thrilled to read this NY Times article this morning about Hollywood’s New Power Posse, that includes Dana Fox (What Happens in Vegas), Diablo Cody (Juno, United States of Tara), Liz Meriwether, Lorene Scarfaria (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist) Fab to see the girls rooting for each other!
Usually us gals tend to either be really competitive with each other because there aren’t as many slots for us. I mean think about it, how many films have been made in recent years that were written by or directed by women? I’m not blaming anyone, but the truth is that it’s harder because of that “supposed rule,” that movies with male protagonists tend to do more business at the Box Office.
And then again, movies like “Sex and the City,” and “Twilight,” come along, beating Studio expectations. It’s not as cut and dry as you might imagine, but I’m definitely even more of a weirdo. I’m an Asian-American female screenwriter and actress who enjoys rapping. (I should be put inside a freak museum)
I started writing screenplays at NYU, after going on numerous auditions where I was auditioning for roles like “Exotic Temptress,” “Asian Girl 2,” ”Asian Female #5,” “The Asian Nail Salon Girl.” Here I was, taking classes in Journalism, Economics, and Screenwriting, but when I walked into an audition room… I was just my race. I mean, that’s all they saw.
Things are definitely changing now, but you know, you have to create projects to really change perceptions. So I started writing… the first couple of scripts I wrote were pretty bad. No structure. Odd characters. (This isn’t so bad) Plot didn’t go anywhere, and luckily I had a great screenwriting teacher who told me, “Don’t quit. You have stories to tell.” This is what I would repeat to myself every time I wanted to quit and wonder why the hell I wasn’t born with the Math/Science genes or why the thought of working in the Finance world made me want to curl up in a corner and die.
Then I moved to Los Angeles, and while working the first of numerous crappy jobs, I interned for a literary manager (for free), and just read scripts all day. Good scripts. Bad scripts. Produced Scripts. Spec scripts. The more I did it, the better I got at understanding what makes a good story and how to craft one. I first started inquiring about getting representation but was told many times that my projects were, “Too Ethnic.” ”Won’t translate to Middle America.” ”Make Your Main Character a Guy.” “Too many Asians in your scripts.”
Uh. Sorry. But I didn’t quit. I’d work my crappy jobs and come back to my tiny apartment and crank away. Drinking way too much coffee. Go for a run. Do yoga.
It’s odd…when you decide to take the plunge and go into an uncertain career as an actor or screenwriter, you’re usually pulled by the desire to tell a particular story or two. It’s never been about becoming super rich and famous (believe it or not), but more about these stories that won’t leave my mind or my heart. Ask anyone who does this for a living about why they chose this profession, and you’ll get a gazillion different answers. But one thing they’ll all have in common is that PULL… you know..that thing that tells you… “You have to tell this story. And only you can tell it.”