When I went to L.A. I was told by a producer I need to move back if I want to be taken seriously as a screenwriter in Hollywood.
My head was spinning. Of course my career is important to me. I had sacrificed a personal life since college for it.
Well, the joke's on me. If I were paid in full, perhaps the years of working for unstable people 24/7, the migraines and the panic attacks from stress would have been worth it.
I am fine with being single and child free. I'm not happy about being so broke when I first started in Hollywood, I missed weddings and other big occasions in my friends' lives back East. I'm not happy I let my former boss with his passive aggressive bullshit get to me. I'm not happy that at my age I don't own a home and still have no idea how my bills will get paid next year.
I'm older now and once again I made another big change in my life.
It's different this time. The move was to Rome was for my life. I was drowning in L.A. I kept a lot of things to myself but during my return trip every single friend commented on the physical and emotional differences.
Two of my closest friends from L.A. visited Rome during Thanksgiving. We all grew up in the "biz" together. They said it was interesting to see me in this environment and the kind of life I had here.
I thought long and hard about my trip to L.A. Could I move back? Would things be better as a writer vs. an exec? Am I doing great harm to my career by not living in Hollywood?
I did a pros and cons list (hello, I'm a Virgo). At the end, it was no contest. Not even close, I'm not going back.
The simple fact is, there is no guarantee returning to L.A. will make this what I do for a living any easier. One of the top screenwriters said to make it in Hollywood it's in your best interest to be a rich white Jewish male under 30 from the Westside of L.A....extra points if your father was in the business.
I'm none of those things. It's going to be a struggle regardless. I'd rather be in a place I love and where I have a better quality of life.
My lawyer and my manager reminded me that things really started to click for me once I moved. They stressed how difficult the business is and things are only going to get worse. Why fix what's not broken?
One of my friends who visited Rome over Thanksgiving is a producer. She said that the goal is to get movies made, all the rest is BS. We know so many writers who have sold scripts but none of their projects have been made in over twelve years. You can't build a career that way and eventually those writers leave the business.
If I wanted to work in TV I would have to move. Film is different. When I mentioned all the successful screenwriters in the UK, I was told, "you're not a white male and I'm a little worried that you're comparing yourself to Peter Morgan."
I wasn't but I realized at that moment I really can't deal with American ethnocentrism anymore. Film is a global medium. I resent that as a black woman I'm constantly being put in a very narrow box in my home country.
I find it fascinating that an Italian company had no problem buying an idea of mine set in an Italian high school.
I wonder sometimes if my parents were not from another country, would I have the same rah, rah, rah, America is the ONLY country that matters attitude? Of course as a super power we're important but we are part of the global community. Without international box office profits, the studios would go bankrupt.
I don't know what will happen with my career. I do know living in Italy at this point in my life is better for my mental health.