by Kristina T.
As I sit on my parents couch, I reflect on a recent holiday where I talked with my friend whom I hadn’t seen in a year about what was going on; I recently got fired and finally got hired. They then replied back, “You always stay getting a job.” Although it felt like those two months without work was like I hadn’t worked in years, they were right. After this past job that was my first time working in another genre, working with family members (aka nepotism), I had to really look at myself and realize my worth. Many will tell you, being in a writers room is like high school – you have to be well liked. That is how I keep getting gigs.
My first job was as a script coordinator. Not only did I skip writers’ assistant and writers’ PA, I went right on to the position you usually get promoted to. My first boss, I met him at a book fair at the Crenshaw Mall. Talked with him twice after that, but lost touch because I’m horrible at keeping in touch with people. Guess who remembered me when I was interviewing for the script coordinator job that I had no skill? Book fair writer. Not only did I excel at that job, but it led me to get a writers assistant position on another show two months later, and then promoted to the script coordinator position I interviewed for two months prior. Not only did I get close to the writers, I worked on my writing in the mean time, networked, met with other writers, executives on my breaks. I was working 24-7, 7 days a week. Within 2018, I worked on three shows, quit two, got fired from one and negotiated only one of them. It’s times like these, I re evaluated what I went through this year.
Your mental and physical health is always last on the list. I realized after being let go, I was depressed. This year was emotional for me, and probably for a lot of Americans specifically. For women like myself, watching the Kavanaugh hearings, reading about my female friends and a few male friends talk about their sexual harassment made my anxiety go up. There wasn’t a lot of good news this year, just more of our economy dropping, no hope for my generation financially and also working for certain writers who treated me like the help and made sure I would never get promoted. Thank God for Covered California. But also, damn stupid ass Covered California. I’ve only had healthcare covered once offered in the writers room but it cost more to pay monthly. This year, alone, a third of my paycheck went to healthcare and January 2019, it goes up because of our current president. But I needed a therapist to deal with the stress of work and real life, so work was all I had. That said, I became even more determined to start asking the question: what’s stopping me from getting staffed on a show?
It’s funny how you ask that question to yourself even more when you’re on unemployment. Or as my fellow assistant friends call it, ‘fun-employment.’ Not only did I start to have a mentality of ‘I have nothing to lose,’ but it made me reach out to people who I knew wouldn’t want to talk to me. I set meetings, I called, I texted and started to write new scripts after being recently burglarized. My work laptop and personal laptop which I didn’t back up got stolen two weeks into the third writers room I was in – that was (not) fun. The backstory, I flew into Oakland to direct a short film for my friend and he insisted we go out to eat that night after he picked me up from the airport. Put my stuff in his trunk and twenty minutes later received a text that read did I try to use two of my credit cards. We went to the car, my backpack with EVERYTHING in it and suitcase, stolen. I lost everything, including my scripts. No back-ups, no copy of final draft files, no nothing. Two weeks later I set up a gofundme to get a new computer after feeling embarrassed for even asking, I raised the money in four days. The new computer came to my job on the same day I got let go. I laugh because, I almost had my computer shipped for the next day but needed it to rewrite a script for a potential agent.
Within a month later, I went to my third interview and got the job. It was between me and another person, but the showrunner saw a previous writer I worked with, to say the least, he knew I could do the job. But something within me said, ‘keep going to meetings, network as much as possible and finish those damn scripts!’ Within the last two months, I’ve written 3 short scripts, rewrote the 2 scripts I lost, and writing a new pilot based on what happened to me when I went to jail. Not only have I reconnected with several people in the past two months than I have all year, but I’ve realized I’m not as shy as I thought. I need to write. I like to write. But as Cardi B said, “But nothing in this world that I like more than checks (Money).” This pilot based on my life is showing me how much of a writer I’ve grown to become and be. There’s nothing else I can see myself doing, other than teaching again, yet that still didn’t make me as happy. Again, at the holiday party I shared a lot of personal stories and feedback from fellow writer friends about my growth and accomplishments. To add, I finally got to hear those five words from all of them, “If you need help, ask.” People can support you by helping you move upwards and onwards. Sometimes you might have to ask them if they don’t offer immediately. You just need to build relationships, stay in touch and don’t be a dick. Those who speak a lot of game are those people you run far away from. The one’s who speak, get to the point, don’t cut corners, keep them close. In the end, always remember what you’re doing this for, make the dream a reality and not an item on your wish list.