Interview with November 2020 Diversity Winner - Lillian Wang
How long have you been writing, and what made you want to write inthe first place?
I have been writing all my life in various contexts, but I am happiest when I am writing creatively. My first job as a kid was working in a movie theater. Sounds cliché, but I literally fell in love with the movies then. The moving images seemed so magical. I knew then that I wanted to be part of that magic.
I soon discovered that part of the magic was finding my voice through writing. Pursuing my inner passions has always been constrained by my Taiwanese cultural heritage. The ability to create other words offered me an escape, a means for self-expression that my culture often restrains. That’s what kept me writing.
Over time my voice has evolved and the motivation to write has become more urgent. In today’s increasingly challenging environment, there is a lot of noise. There is toxicity in the air that threatens to chip away at a person’s confidence, or worse, spirit. One’s inner fire could easily be extinguished and the voice could be silenced in this environment. I think in recent years, it is this fear of being silenced that drives me to continuously generate new ideas and materials. Today, my voice is still evolving, and I am excited to see where it will take me tomorrow.What genre do you prefer to write in? What draws you to that genre?
I tend to gravitate towards psychological dramas and thrillers. That’s technically two genres, so I'm cheating by answering the question this way, but the operative word is “psychological.” Some of my favorite movies/shows are psychological: The Shining, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 12 Angry Men, Silence of the Lambs, The Americans, Killing Eve, I could go on!
Psychological stories are thrilling to me because central to these stories are strong and compelling characters, and I’m drawn to these types of characters. I try to get into these characters’ heads. The mind can be both a scary and fascinating place. I’m fascinated by what makes people do the things they do, say the things they say, feel the things they feel, and believe the things they believe. That requires stepping into their shoes and getting into their worlds through meticulous research. In developing new materials, I always start with my characters, and that includes getting into their heads and identifying with them, which can take me to some very dark places, as it did when I wrote the Nicholl finalist script P.O. Box 1142 set during the Holocaust and a recent spy feature The Eleventh Commandment about an MI6 codebreaker with mental illness. If there is such a thing as a “method” writer, I guess I am one. My method of writing helps me come up with complex characters and continuously improve my craft. That is why the psychological genre appeals to me because it jives well with my creative sensibilities and pushes me to do my best work.Tell us three things you're currently digging.
Show: Killing Eve on Starz / Fauda on Netflix
Book: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Podcast: Wondery – Over My Dead BodyWhat interested you about the Roadmap Diversity Initiative?
Diversity is a complex term. To me, it has a broader meaning than the color of one’s skin, gender, age, or sexual orientation. There is diversity in life experiences and values. There is diversity in beliefs, traditions, skills, and habits. The Roadmap Diversity Initiative recognizes the complexity in a writer’s individuality and has designed a program to draw out that individuality, that unique voice, so the writer can stand out from the pack. That’s what resonated with me about the initiative.
I like that the Career Writer Program is not about teaching writers how to write but about how to market and brand oneself. This is exactly what I need at this point in my writing career. It is not enough to develop a voice on paper. It is equally important to develop a confident voice, a presence in the room (or virtual rooms these days) when taking meetings. Hollywood is a relationship-driven business. So I must develop the necessary skills to be able to open the door to connect with industry players. Learning how to pitch, for example, is one of the fundamental keys to opening that door. I really appreciate the practical nature of the program, which is unique as far as I can tell in the industry for emerging writers.Where can we find you?