I was visiting home a few years ago and if you’re in the entertainment industry, you know how it can get. “What can I see you in?” “Have you tried ___insert any obvious idea here__?” “You should get a hold of my neighbor’s son’s ex-girlfriend’s cousin – he’s an actor out there” “You know Lisa from your high school just published a book, why don’t you do that?” “What’s your backup plan?” Everyone knows how to fix your life and points out all the ways you’re failing. It comes from a place of good intent, but it’s like a dagger in your heart, so you drink hence why your mother is concerned you’re an alcoholic. So anyway, my mom is stirring something on the stove and all of a sudden she turns to me like she’s had some kind of epiphany and says, “Jen, what about Ron Howard?” I’m like, “What about Ron Howard?” She goes, “He was on This is Us.”
Oh my god. She’s not wrong, but yeah – right on top of that, Rose. Well, two years later and it turns out she might have been on to something. Ever have something really exciting happen to you but you’re told you can’t shout it from the mountains just yet? You’ve just gotta sit around like Kristen Wiig with a sweater stuffed in your mouth? That’s me. It’s been a little crazy around here and I can finally share why.
In January my writing partner, Erin and I applied to Imagine Entertainment’s Impact Program. It was like buying a lotto ticket as far as odds are concerned. What the hell, right? About a month later, I spit soup out of my mouth as I read an email informing us we were finalists. So we go in for the interview and you would have thought we were spies being interrogated. Erin is sweating, I’m shaking, there’s a giant table of plants between us and at one point, I thought to myself ‘was I supposed to move that? Is this some Men in Black shit? Did I fail the test?’ Honest to god, to this day, I don’t even know what happened in there. I have no idea what I was saying, I’m pretty sure they were bored and I for sure left thinking I’d be blacklisted from the building. We couldn’t have felt less like we crushed it. They said we’d hear from them in the next 11 days. Sure. Fast forward to Monday, March 11. I stared at my phone the entire day. Minutes went by, hours went by…nothing. 5 o’clock rolled by and I told myself good game. Tossed my phone on the couch and went to take a shower.
In those 15 minutes, I guess you could say my life changed little bit. I’ve got missed calls, missed texts, missed facetimes, you name it. I pick up the facetime and Erin is saying so much so loud and so fast I can’t even string together what’s going on. I finally hear “Check your voicemail! We got in! We got in!” My heart just fell into the ground. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as I was standing there in a towel with drenched hair. We got off the call and I just started crying. Then I listened to my voicemail from Ron Howard, Tyler Mitchell, Doug Ellin and the rest of the shapers and staff and cried some more. I don’t think I even knew what life was in that moment. I’ve been in shock ever since. When you’re so used to hearing no, it’s hard to believe it when you finally hear a yes. We get comfortable with not succeeding and it’s super stockholm syndrome. We’ve gotten so used to rejection that we push down our hopes to soften the blow we know will inevitably come. It sounds insane, but it took me a minute to believe that happiness was mine. I think I’m just glad I wasn’t around to actually answer the call because I would have thought it was my brother pranking me and then I would have cussed at and hung up on Ron Howard.
So a lot has changed and a lot remains the same. My neighbor is still never not having sex. I’m still trying to figure out the logistics. I know it’s a studio but I don’t know if it’s the cowboy’s place or if they live together or if this is a fling or a really long tinder date. Maybe the cowboy is the midnight visitor, I don’t know. I’m working on the details. At the moment, the sexcapades are on hold because they’re currently screaming at each other. I know this is evil but listening to couples argue is like, so entertaining. Okay, so every five minutes or so, she screams I WASN’T GOING ANYWHERE!!! And he keeps saying he knows what he saw. This is really escalating. Someone from the building next door yelled SHUT UP and then the couple yelled YOU SHUT UP back. Uh oh, it’s becoming a neighborhood altercation. I’m going in. I just yelled I THINK SHE WAS GOING SOMEWHERE! Pouring fuel on the fire. She screamed NO I WASN’T and something definitely just broke up there. It’s 9 o’clock on a Wednesday, are they drunk? I’m trying to decide whose side to take. I may have to go with the tale old ‘thou doth protest too much’. She’s really angry he thinks she was going somewhere. He’s definitely playing it 1,000 times more chill than she is. Someone threw something. If this turns into hate sex, kill me. Oh! Another apartment in the building is now BLASTING music to compensate for the domestic dispute. A door slammed. Uh oh, she’s leaving. Wherever she wasn’t going, she’s going there now buddy. Now he’s pacing back and forth. God I’m so glad I paused the show I was watching for this. I fell asleep and she must have come back because when I woke up, they were going at it again. Sometimes being single certainly has its perks.
So I guess if I’ve learned anything from all of this, it’s that we deserve happiness and it’s okay to be happy and sometimes we win. Unlike a lotto ticket, this accomplishment is something I’ve worked very hard for and I couldn’t have done it without the brains and the beauty of Miss Erin Feiger. She puts up with me, which is a job in itself. It’s been a hard transition which surprises people. I watched The President’s Daughter and cried if you’re looking for any insight into my emotional state. I think I’m still waiting for someone to tell me they made a mistake. I was explaining to my brother that I felt shawshanked. If you know the movie, you know what I mean. You finally get what you’ve been dreaming about but everything familiar and the prison you knew as home is gone. It’s a lot of change and some days are easier than others. I’ll get there eventually. And just some last words of advice. If Deadline announces you’re a stand up comedian and you’ve never done stand up in your life, go with it. If you’ve ever thought about turning Game of Thrones into a drinking game and taking a shot anytime anyone says North, don’t. And no matter what anybody says, don’t ever give up on your daydream.