Though I loved the art of acting, I couldn't stomach the business. I had also grown tired of Los Angeles and was looking for jobs in New York City. And I landed a great one, one that would greatly enhance my understanding of storytelling. Thomas Schumacher, then president of Disney Feature Animation and Theatrical Group, who oversaw the production of many of my favorite movies, was opening an office in New York and needed an assistant. I'd never worked for someone so charismatic and passionate--his every breath was about great storytelling. On top of that, Tom was brilliant with talent. He knew how to bring out the best in people, to tap into their most creative selves, to comfort bruised egos and gently reign in inflated ones. Little did I know that I was receiving some of the best training for my future job as a book editor.
Through Tom, I met many other great storytellers: Rick Elice, Roger Rees, Francesca Zambello, Julie Taymor, Sir Richard Eyre, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Phil Collins, Doug Wright, Julian Fellowes. While deeply inspiring, my interactions with these folks intimidated the wannabe artist inside me. I hungered to do the things they did, but as I had been doing for many years, I convinced myself to leave the art-making to the real experts.
After two years working for Tom, I switched to publishing. (In today's market, landing an editorial job is akin to winning the Hunger Games, so I was very lucky to get in when I did. I just happened to have the right skill set and can-do attitude my new boss, Brenda Bowen, was looking for.) The desire to create lingered, but at long last, at least I was in a position that would allow me to produce.
Brenda threw me into the process, first teaching me the basics and then helping me to develop my skills. Tom had instilled in me the value of systems, and I incorporated them into my process. As an editor at Disney Hyperion, I was exposed to the works of Jonathan Stroud, Eoin Colfer, Melissa de la Cruz, E. Lockhart, Mo Willems, and Rick Riordan, many of whom I would eventually have the great pleasure of editing. (Or rather, mostly the great pleasure.) Over the years, I've worked for and with some truly legendary editors, and if/when I win a Golden Globe, they will all be thanked in my speech.
My understanding of story blossomed in these years, and with it, a belief that I could create something of my very own. I decided to try my hand at screenwriting because, as everyone knows, selling a screenplay is super easy. My first effort, in partnership with a friend with some experience with the format, was a female-driven comedy about motherhood, of all things. We never finished the first draft, but I took a lot away from the experience, particularly that writing is hard!