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.
Hey ya’ll, I just finished directing the second episode of this season’s American Crime, written by the almighty John Ridley and involving a conflagration pulled off with the help of my old buddy Tom Bellissimo. The episode will air in January. So loved working with our returning ensemble… Felicity Huffman, Regina King, Richard Cabral, Benito Martinez, Connor Jessup… and with our stellar new cast… Cherry Jones, Sandra Oh, Dallas Roberts and Tim DeKay. A real honor.
We completed our latest Look What She Did! shoot at the end of August in Julie’s backyard (and two in the front yard– we got wild). Our all-gal crew was amazing (!) and we filmed nine interviews in just one weekend, our biggest shoot ever. Two incredible, inspiring days filled with crazy-great women talking about other crazy-great women. Stay tuned, we’ll be posting new videos soon.
Here are our newest co-conspirators:
Writer/director Julliette Carrillo on writer/director Jo Anne Akalaitis
Theater Critic Sylvie Drake on the mind-blowing Queen Hatshepsut of Eqypt
Screenwriter Anna Thomas on anthropologist Carobeth Laird
Documentary filmmaker Grace Lee on Civil Rights activist Grace Lee Boggs
Filmmaker Tamar Halpem on journalist Nellie Bly
Actress Elisa Bocanegra on playwright Maria Irene Fornes
Downtown Women’s Shelter communications director Ann-Sophie Morisette on homeless advocate Mollie Lowery
Musician/writer April Wolfe on badass aviator Pancho Barnes (yes, she’s a woman…)
Playwright Laural Meade on suffragette Sara Bard Field
Okay, second visit to the Emmys– way more relaxed. We knew our way around this time, starting with driving up Pico instead of Olympic to get there, which saved us at least 20 minutes of waiting in a line of cars. Good start. We also knew to eat a little before we left, AND I brought almonds in my purse in case we became desperate. Turns out this was unnecessary because not only did they have mini-burgers in the lounge when we arrived (Kenn had one and said they were good) in the middle of the broadcast Jimmy Kimmel sent around lunch sacks from his mom filled with peanut butter and jam sandwiches, a cookie, an apple and a juice box. By that time everyone really was hungry and we — along with 7000 of our over-dressed colleagues — scarfed it up. It was a kick to see elegant men in their tuxedos and women dripping in diamonds licking their fingers and enjoying the pbj’s. One of my favorite moments. Thanks Jimmy’s mom.
Walking the red carpet was more chill this time, too, despite the 100 degree heat because they’d erected a cover and hedges and had water available and all the folks guiding us along were cheery and helpful. They did a great job of moving thousands of socializing people into place for an on-time start to a live broadcast. Not easy and they did it with grace. I don’t know if it was aired on the Emmy broadcast, but before the show started three kids from Stranger Things sang and danced Uptown Funk and I LOVED it. They were adorable and fun and super-talented. Glad I was in my seat ahead of time to see it.
I’m pretty bad at recognizing famous people and I kept saying to Kenn: Look, that’s so-and-so! and he’d say: No, it isn’t. And he was right. I mis-identified several seat-fillers but thank god I didn’t request their autographs. Meanwhile, I was so delighted to see some of my favorite people up on the big screen for their nominations, including Lili Taylor, Felicity Huffman, Lesli Linka Glatter, Lily Tomlin and many more. When Lily Tomlin didn’t win, you could see her mouth the words “Oh, damn it!” I love her. Also absolutely loved that Susanne Bier won best director for a limited series. She is a phenomenal director and it makes me so happy for women of talent to be recognized. Then, of course, our own Regina King won best supporting actress in a limited series for American Crime, and we leapt from our seats with tears in our eyes. Okay, Michael McDonald and I did, not Kenn, but he was proud of her, too. Turns out Regina’s win was the ONLY win of the night for anyone from broadcast television. Gave us a little lift.
Afterwards, we tromped over to the Governor’s Ball (my feet in stiletto heels were beginning to scream at this point… ah, vanity…) but when we walked in– the decor was breathtaking. Kenn says it’s like the most over-the-top high school prom you can imagine. Last year it felt like we’d been catapulted out into the universe and this year it was more Hobbit-like with lush, draped greenery
hanging from the fifty-foot ceiling. An elevated, wedding-cake-like platform in the middle held an orchestra and singers who keep shifting through the evening. Magical.
We found our table then wandered around talking to friends and colleagues. Very happy to see some of our brilliant Season Two cast including Joey Pollari, Elvis Nolasco and Connor Jessup, as well as Ms. Cherry Jones, who will be joining us for Season Three. Damn, it’s fun to know amazingly talented people who are all such sweethearts.
Dinner was yummy and at our table we ate, drank and chatted with writer-producers Diana Son and Keith Huff and his wife Georgette, as well as our AD Kayse Goodell. Really lovely.
And we were out– except for the long walk back to the valet. I admit removing the stilettos and enjoying the red carpet in bare feet! Goodbye 2016 Emmys.
Regina King accepting her Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress