I directed the powerful season finale of ACCUSED on Fox, featuring Academy Award winner Keith Carradine as an aging rock star dealing with the addiction of his son. It was a dream to work with an incredible crew in Toronto and actors who give gripping performances including Keith, Laila Robins and Evan Gamble.
Here’s the episode of Accused I directed called “Brenda’s Story”, starring the brilliant Whitney Cummings, written by my dear friend Sonay Hoffman. Please watch but note it’s not for children. Concerns sexual assault and the legal system. It’s a powerful story with incredible performances — and I’m so grateful to the full team for bringing heart and soul to it.
Julie Hébert started directing in Hollywood through a paid internship program for women and people of color. She remembers rampant sexism when she was starting out in the early 2000s: snide comments by white men that the women should’ve “stuck to their dollhouses.” Even as an established director, she recalls working with a team of white men who refused to do her shot or changed it for “the better” during lunch without asking her.
It took two decades of working in the industry, Hébert says, to experience a sexism-free set. She was in Vancouver getting ready for her last day directing an episode of “Man in the High Castle” and thought something felt “weird” about the shoot.
“Then I realized what it was: there was no sexism for the entire thing. There was no misogyny,” she recalls. “It was wonderful and amazing. It was also kind of startling to me that I had never experienced that before. There’s always somebody who’s resentful that you’re the female in charge.”
I am feeling grateful. This photo by Beth Moon of an ancient tree against an even more ancient sky inspired the nighttime world of my play, Drunk at the Base of the Bodhi Tree which we’re putting on this weekend at #milehightheater in the mountains north of LA. I got more inspiration from a poem by #Jacquelinesuskin called The Spirit of Trees that I commissioned from her at a party at the home of Ellen Gavin and Melinda White. It takes so long and so many people to put together a play — I say “put together” rather than write, because that’s what it is — a strange, sweet, unfolding collage over time and people and places. I first had the idea (and the title) of the play at a writing retreat with Deena Metzger in Pine Mountain Club years ago. I came up with a first draft in a silent retreat with Erik Ehn in Bolinas. A year later I went to a residency at Ucross Staff in Wyoming and rewrote it. Then we did a workshop at #BostonCourtTheater with the wonderful Jessica Kubzansky directing. After that to New Dramatists in NY for a reading directed by the equally wonderful Marya Mazor. Great actors in both of those instances helped to evolve the story and the characters. Earlier this summer my old buddy Paul Codiga called and asked if I had a play — they were doing a festival up near Pine Mountain Club where the play started. Amazing. In the last few weeks the phenomenal Laurel Ollstein has been directing this current production and bringing her own humor and light to it, along with another group of out-of-this-world actors: O-Lan Jones, Diana Burbano, Lauren Campedelli, and Vincent Cusimano. Everyone has worked for free all along the way. The generosity and spirit of artists is incredible to me. Being an artist is a beautiful way to walk the earth. I am indebted to so many for giving so openly to this play, but even more I am indebted to all of you for giving me joy in the process, joy in life.
I am over the moon with excitement that my short story, NAKED IN THE RIVER, was published recently in Narrative Magazine. Though I’ve been writing fiction privately for quite a while this is my first time being published. Please read it and let me know what you think. (You can read it by joining NarrativeMagazine.com for free and have access to their incredible library — or you can read the story on my site, here.)
I was delighted to work with my dear friends Quinton Peeples and Brian Yorkey on this thrilling series, created by wonderful newcomer Vanessa Gazy. We did it during the pandemic — a zoom writer’s room — and it was a blast. Watch the trailer now. Series to premiere later this month.
Identical twins Leni and Gina have secretly switched places for years. But when one sister disappears, both of their lives start to fall apart.
I interviewed my friend filmmaker Jessica Yu last week for Live Talks LA, at the New Roads School in Santa Monica, about her new book Garden of the Lost and Abandoned. It was a lively discussion with a lovely audience.
Jessica was so taken with a woman she met in Africa while making a documentary, Gladys Kalibbala, that she felt compelled to write a book about her… even though she’d never written a book before! You’d think that must mean Gladys is a pretty amazing woman… and you’d be right. Gladys’ story is kind of mind-blowing. With nothing but her own meager journalist salary to support her Gladys has taken on the job of reuniting lost and abandoned children in Uganda with their families. And if she can’t find their families, she takes responsibility herself for their well-being and even their educations. Gladys’ work is a powerful reminder of the difference one person can make.
We’ll be doing a Look What SHE Did! interview with Jessica about Gladys eventually, but in the meantime, get the book and read the story about Jessica’s experience following this astonishing woman around Uganda, witnessing persistence, love, courage and dedication in action.
Here’s our latest video on jazz marvel Lil Hardin, told to us by filmmaker Judy Chaikin. I know you’ve heard of Lil’s husband— Louis Armstrong— but you may not know about Lil, a genius in her own right. Check it out.
Also, I’m excited to announce we’re launching our first fundraising campaign during the month of March, Women’s History Month.
We’re thinking about it as a month of Creativity and have been working away on a series of new videos, which we’ll post at the beginning of each week. (We’ve got some good ones on the way…) We’ll also be sharing stories and anecdotes across social media, celebrating lots of astonishing women.
Our goal is to raise $15,000 which will be used for our first out-of-town shoot in the Bay Area this summer. We’ll be in Silicon Valley filming women in Tech, in Berkeley with women in Science, and in Sausalito interviewing women in the Arts.
When we started this backyard video project we had no idea it would connect with so many people. Our videos have been shared thousands of times and are being used in classrooms around the country. As we build our library, expand our audience and develop partnerships with schools, museums, and community groups, we realize the moment is right for us to grow into a thriving, sustainable company with national impact.
We’d love your help to make this happen.
Right now, as we prepare for our campaign on March 1st, I ask you to share Look What She Did! with your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. It’s easy. The videos are short, friendly, informative, and pretty inspiring. A sweet distraction that’s good for you and doesn’t add to your waistline.
Please go to our website (www.lookwhatshedid.com), find your favorite video and forward it to folks who would enjoy it. This small action will mean so much to us, and your friends and family will thank you.
Thanks for sticking with us. You’ve been our first community, our founding audience, so to speak, and we are so grateful for your presence and your support.
Laura Tremaine, host of the podcast The Smartest Person in the Room, interviews Julie Hébert about her career in theatre, film and television. Julie takes us on an inspiring journey from small town Louisiana to her current position as Executive Producer/Writer/ Director on the award-winning ABC series American Crime.
We get a glimpse of the dynamics in the Writer’s Room of a television drama and the responsibilities writers feel to their audiences. Julie discusses being a woman in a male-dominated industry and why it’s important for directors to wear boots. We also get a sneak-peek into current and future projects.
Laura leads a fascinating conversation giving an inside view into the workings of Hollywood and the life of a free-lance writer/director.
Hi friends! I’m delighted to be moderating a discussion Friday night November 11th with Dana Calvo, Jeanine Oppewall and Cynthia Pusheck, creators of the new Amazon show Good Girls Revolt. We’ll talk after a screening of their pilot at the beautiful Wilshire-Ebell Theater. I’d love to see you there. Come and get some inspiration from this true story of women banding together to create change.