Hey, writer peeps!

While I was moving some files onto my external drive, I decided to see if, by some miracle, I could find my applications from the years I got into the CBS Writers Mentoring Program and NBC’s Writers on the Verge.  And shockingly — I found them.

I’m not sure if this is remotely helpful or not, but I know the letters/statements of interest and the essay questions are often people’s biggest concern. So what follows is my letter of interest for the CBS program and my essay questions for WOTV. If you find some guidance here that helps you along the way, fabulous. I am not correcting anything — so forgive any typos or poor grammar.

And good luck to you all!

CBS Letter (2010):

As a female writer of color, it’s been encouraging to see both my gender and my ethnic group represented more onscreen and behind the scenes.  My ability to broaden that presence comes from a diverse life experience.  I grew up in a small town, but moved to the city to put myself through college. I’ve worked in jobs as generic as hotel operator and as intense as police dispatcher.  I come from a military family of Southern descent but was raised in California because my father wanted his kids to experience more freedoms than he’d grown up with.  It’s these elements of my history that I try to weave together to create stories that resonate for me as a 21st century woman.

One fascinating aspect of TV writing is the relationship that develops between writer and audience as a show progresses through weeks and seasons.  My motivation to study writing came directly from the impact shows like “Hill Street Blues” and “thirtysomething” had on me, and it’s my hope to someday have that same effect on viewers through my writing.  I feel that a tour with the CBS Writing mentors would allow me to put a final polish on my work and to become another flourishing representative of what a strong and capable woman of color can do in the writers’ room.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

WOTV essay questions (2011):

1. What from your background do you bring to the table as a writer that provides a
fresh perspective in your storytelling?

When I think of what I bring to my writing that is unique to my experiences, there are two main things that come to mind. One is my own experience growing up in a very racially and religiously diverse family. When we moved to my father’s last military posting at China Lake Naval Weapons Center in the middle of the Mojave Desert, there wasn’t any other family in town that looked like mine. Over time that changed, but in those early years, that sense of being so different, even amongst the ethnic group I was identified with, gave me a strong desire to write material that not only shows what diversity looks like, but also peels away the facades we put up to hide what being different in any way really feels like.

Later, after moving to Los Angeles, my years working in law enforcement and post my own involvement, sharing stories with my friends and relatives that still work on the job, I gained a very personal insight into the impact that crime has not just on the victim, but on the family of the victim, and on the people who are pulled into the aftermath, be they sworn officers, civilian personnel or volunteers exposed to some of the ugliest things people can do to one another. I try to maintain that awareness whenever I write projects involving crime or disaster and the aftereffects.

2. What television show most inspired you to become a television writer and why?

The list of television shows I’ve watched is almost too long to be admitted in public, but of all the different dramas I’ve been a fan of, the one that most fueled my desire to write television was “NYPD Blue.”

The story arc of Andy Sipowicz was one of the most compelling character studies I’ve seen, and his transformation from alcoholic racist on the verge of losing his career to a compassionate, sober husband and father, and a respected leader of his precinct was a years-long roller coaster that exemplified the kind of involving storytelling I strive for. Along with Andy’s ever-evolving story, we were invited to view every aspect of life at the 15th precinct, where things could be hopeless one week and touched by the possibility of hope the next, where the cops, lawyers, victims, and perpetrators who walked through the doors could be simultaneously heroic, human, evil, and yearning for redemption.

A scene in which Andy relates a horrifying story about a murdered child to his fiancée Sylvia always comes to mind when I think of “Blue.” It was a one scene out of hundreds, and yet it was moving as he tried to explain to her why his faith had been destroyed and how she had given a little of it back. Those are the moments I think make a great show, and it’s that level of complexity I hope to achieve every time I begin a new piece.