I’m a producer/editor of promos and original content for the
Weinstein Co. It’s a great gig, but I’ve found myself wanting to move into the
scripted TV realm as a writer/producer. So I was thrilled when the opportunity
came through the PGA to be matched with a mentor who was a writing television
producer. I was hoping for some validation that I was on the right track, plus
maybe a few words of wisdom. What I received from my mentor Matt
Williams—creator of Roseanne and co-creator of Home Improvement—was that and so much more.
Matt and I met twice for 90-minute mentoring
sessions. During the first meeting, I alternated between furiously taking notes
and trying to absorb all of Matt’s wisdom. Of his storytelling advice, what
stuck with me most was, "take what’s real, exaggerate it, and do it with heart
and humanity.” Much of my work is inspired by my "spirited” Iraqi family, whose
escapades don’t require much exaggeration. But this piece of advice has freed
me up to really push the boundaries and reach a new level of comedy in my writing.
Our first session flew by. At the end Matt
said, "Send me whatever you want me to read.” I looked around conspiratorially
and then leaned in and whispered, "They told us not to ask you to read
anything.” To which he bluntly replied: "Well, how am I supposed to help you if
I’m not familiar with your work?” Point taken.
Matt also introduced me to other established writers he knows,
particularly women, whom he felt could better speak to my specific experience as
a female creative in this town. The man is simply a wonderful advisor and
My mentorship has ended but I keep in touch
with Matt, who graciously continues to look at my work. While I’d like to say
this speaks to my amazing talent, I think it’s more accurate to say it speaks
to Matt’s character. I’m now at the point in my career where I’m being asked to
speak to those younger than me and offer my own advice; for that, I draw on my
experience with Matt. If I can be even a quarter of the
advisor/mentor/supporter he’s been for me, I think I could stand a chance of
being helpful to someone else.
So thank you Matt Williams, for making time and truly caring. And thanks
especially to the Mentoring Committee and the PGA for making this program
available to members. It’s truly an invaluable experience.