Psychology, Religion/Philosophy, 2001
Los Angeles, CA
After graduating, I received the Bobby Jones scholarship and spent a year of graduate study at St. Andrews in Scotland – a scholarship I certainly wouldn't have received if not for my time and contributions to the Emory theater program. There, I acted in a number of plays, founded an improvisational comedy troupe, received an MLitt in Creative Writing, and began work on my first novel. When I returned to the States, I did a six-month national tour and moved out to Los Angeles to pursue writing and acting. In my first few years here, I joined SAG and acted in a number of independent and student films, as well as writing and directing my own thirty-minute film that played at over twenty film festivals, including Cannes. I waited tables and acted in plays and generally did my best to hustle up work wherever I could. It's a tough town with a number of people asking for your time and your money, and it can be both confusing and artistically unfulfilling. I turned more and more to writing during the day, spending my time at the computer when the auditions weren't rolling in. I had some early success with writing, and began devoting more time to novels and, increasingly, screenplays. My first novel was optioned by Mark Ordesky (Lord of the Rings) and he attached Jim Uhls (Fight Club) to adapt it. My first screenplay was optioned by George Romero (Night of the Living Dead), and I figured I was off and running – but so far, neither of these projects has seen the light of day.
In the last few years, I've had four screenplays optioned and have recently published my second book ... with the third one on the way.
Highlights at Emory
At Emory, I acted in a number of plays (both lead and supporting roles), directed two shows, and ran Rathskellar for two years. I loved every aspect of the experience – short plays on campus, Theater Emory, Starving Artists, Ad Hoc – it was a very holistic, inclusive experience for me. I even managed to branch out to the dance and music departments, because of the generous overlap created on campus.
What Emory taught me was perseverance and the love of the craft. If you love what you're doing every day, success isn't the driving force: creativity is. There were a number of years where plays and stories kept me going because I loved doing it. When I finally sold my first book, I'd been in Los Angeles for six years and was fully appreciative of the process, the craft, and the result. Theater Studies at Emory, unlike many of the other academic departments, creates affection and love for the work. As a result, I'm constantly on the search for projects and ideas that make my heart thump a little harder or my stomach drop a little further. What I learned is that the Emory theater program is a unique safe space – one that teaches you craft, love of craft, and a core set of skills that are applicable across multiple artistic disciplines. The Theater Studies faculty are, first and foremost, artists – and that translates across an enormous range of life applications.