Roadmap recently chatted with writer Katie Hathaway, who works for Mike O'Brien on the third season of AP BIO. You can read our Q&A with her below.
What drew you to the entertainment industry?
I was raised by television, and specifically, by comedy television. I’m from Los Angeles, and though none of my family members work in in the industry, I grew up with friends and parents who had jobs scattering the entire swath of jobs in entertainment. Whether they were directors, producers, actors, studio heads, cinematographers, or set medics (I have a real soft-spot for these guys), I always loved to fall into deep and inspiring conversations with the writers. The people who, for all intents and purposes, were the reasons behind every idea, every decision, and every entertainment job that I would come to witness in my years to come. Yes, the entertainment industry is a crazy, mercurial, trend-driven, and power-hungry business, but it’s a business that creates a product that shows us our very humanity! So when you think about how powerful comedy television can be, how it can raise children, help someone cope, provide a distraction, or simply give its' most basic gift (laughter), how can you not be inspired to be part of something so uniquely invaluable?
What's your favorite part about working with writers?
The best part about working with writers is learning where their ideas come from. What made you choose this location? Why this character? What about this story do you think will resonate with audiences? All of these questions will come up in every meeting a writer has with a representative, producer, or buyer. Yes, it's always important for a writer to have answers to these questions, but learning about the inspiration behind a writer's creative decisions really helps me invest and fall in love with their stories.
It's always easy to say that writers borrow ideas from one another, and that’s to be expected in any industry of art. But no matter how many times one pilot resembles another, the inspiration behind why the writer has chosen to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) is always unique and related to personal life experiences. In this way, I get to know people through their scripts and in turn, continue to learn how life can be defined so differently by everyone I read.
What gets you most excited about a writer's pitch?
I can get really excited about a pitch when a writer says that its based off of the real people in their life or real experiences they have gone through. Whether it's embarrassing stories, crazy relatives, or just general bad luck that turned out to be a gift in the long run, hearing a writer turn experience into storytelling will always pique my interest. That said, I also love to hear pitches that test all the boundaries of the bizarre and the believable. So, hearing a pitch about aliens who come to destroy earth but change their minds when they become addicted to social media? Tell me more!
What's one bit of advice that helps you the most in this industry?
I’ve received copious amounts of advice since I started working in entertainment when I was 22. Network, read everything, watch everything, know everyone, buy that piece of IP before Netflix does! That's all been good advice. But one piece of great advice that has continued to serve me as a talent representative, producer, and writer, is to “identify your voice.” As a writer, nothing could be more important than writing a pilot or screenplay with a memorable voice— a sense of personality, a sense of individualism that can be identified and easily understood as the writer’s unique way of world building.
What's your favorite non-industry-related hobby or activity?
(In an effort to be impressive), I love to go to tequila & mezcal tasting. I am always responsible, but recently I’ve developed a real affinity for añejo tequila (my wallet, however, has not) so I’ve been researching different tasting houses and annoying the crap out of the bartenders with my rudimentary questions. That said, I still know very little but am excited to hold my knowledge over other peoples heads one day in the near future. And at the risk of truly embarrassing myself here, I do also love a good 1-2 hours of brain-melting , movement-free, stone-cold Tik-Tok watching. Yes, i’m well aware that I am not technically a coveted member of Gen Z, but it’s the most entertaining app on the market that will simultaneously inspire and shame you until you look at the clock and realize its 4:00am? How? How could that be?!?