***BO MONEYY WINNER ANNOUNCED AT END OF ARTICLE***
With coronavirus in full-swing, it’s been hard to achieve normalcy. Going out and meeting people is no longer possible, at least not in the conventional sense.
Grabbing a cappuccino at the local coffee shop has been replaced by taking walks around the neighborhood and maintaining six feet, the irony being we will all eventually distance ourselves six feet from the rest of the world.
Despite the virus’ best efforts, people are still living their lives, chasing dreams that may look even bleaker now that the American economy has been hemorrhaged and people’s livelihoods are in the balance.
But now is not the time to run from failure. Instead, we should be even more motivated to forge ahead and take advantage of the ever-precious time we have on this earth.
One person who embodies this mentality is writer Julie Pearson.
She has been unwavering in her quest to achieve success, so much so that the idea of money and notoriety isn’t what keeps her coming back to the writing table every day.
Rather, for the Los Angeles-based Pearson, her happiness lies in the journey of being able to do what she loves even though no one can guarantee her it will ever pay off.
I arranged a meeting on Zoom to talk with Pearson about her life as a struggling artist. Like many people I’ve spoken with in the past, Pearson’s story is riddled with fluctuation. Sometimes things are good; other times she wonders how she got here.
No one ever said it would be easy to chase a dream.
After properly positioning my recorder, I ask Pearson about her upbringing.
She tells me that after growing up in the Twin Cities and attending college in Wisconsin, she first moved to Chicago to begin her career in the entertainment industry.
“I originally was planning to be an actor, but I fell in love with directing theater and also was on an improv team,” she says of her early pursuits.
Her liking toward the stage led to partnering with a few friends to form a theater company. It was during this stage of her career that Pearson discovered she liked writing more than acting.
“Why do you prefer writing?” I ask her.
“I like to hang back and process things a little more. I would rather try to figure out how to structure something, which is why I really like writing and directing. It feels like I get to put the puzzle together in a different way,” she explains.
With employment opportunities more plentiful in TV as opposed to theater, at first glance it appeared Pearson wisely chose which way to direct her career.
The problem was that there have always been more writers than jobs in that industry, and in Chicago, there simply isn’t enough demand for writers so that everyone can sustain themselves.
Feeling the need to take her career elsewhere, Pearson then decided to make another geographical pivot, this time transitioning from the Midwest’s epicenter out west to Los Angeles.
“I moved here with the goal of writing for TV,” she says.
Predictably, Pearson encountered a lot of roadblocks in her new home. Money was tight and her career wasn’t coming together as quickly as she would have hoped, but slowly her perseverance began to reward her. Despite the intense competition, Pearson eventually carved out a niche for herself.
“Now I work as an assistant in a TV writer’s room,” she says, a job that doesn’t pay her big money, but one that keeps afloat the dream that one day she will make it in show business.
“How’s that coming along?” I ask.
“It’s going. This is my first job in a writer’s room,” she shares with a laugh. “Since I moved out here, I’ve done a lot of writing. I’m trying to make things that get seen by people.”
Her last sentence is why so many people ultimately don’t make it in Hollywood. In a cutthroat industry that plays by its own rules, there is never a guarantee of success, regardless of one’s talents or connections.
As Pearson explains, “It’s slow for everybody, and it’s hard to remember that it’s supposed to be slow. The process is happening, but it takes a while.”
Getting one’s work in front of the right people isn’t as simple as creating something special either. It’s also a matter of timing, having everything come together at just the right moment.
Now in her thirties, Pearson could easily fall back on her education and get a more conventional job. It would spare her some of the heartache that comes with working out west. She even admits that she used to ponder walking away from her dream.
“I had those kinds of thoughts a lot more when I was younger and in Chicago. I felt like I was supposed to already have figured it out, and if it wasn’t easy, then I wasn’t supposed to be doing it,” she smiles, her mind jogging through memories from the early days of her career.
Intent on realizing her potential, Pearson blocked out the negativity and continued to grind, in the process becoming a more mature writer and person. Her mindset gradually shifted away from results and more toward enjoying the moment.
“Once you settle into the rhythm of what it is [the grind], it gets a little easier to weather those storms,” Pearson notes.
It helps that Pearson works on other projects during her off-hours to reduce stress. She also maintains a nice circle of friends so that she never feels lost in a city that has a tendency to break people.
“A lot of people have made this same migration I’ve made,” Pearson says, revealing that many of her friends from Minnesota and Chicago have also come out to L.A. in pursuit of the grandiose.
Even with all her willpower and a solid support system, Pearson knows there is no escaping the reality that writing is often a lonely and arduous experience. There is simply no replacement for the consistency and persistency that it takes to come up with great work.
This means that Pearson spends a lot of time inside her apartment writing scripts, and less time going out for drinks or walks on Venice Beach.
“Writing scripts feels like doing a puzzle in a lot of ways. Getting the idea that’s in your head onto the page, and deciding when to reveal information. It doesn’t feel that free-form as you’re doing it,” she says.
Part of what Pearson does includes creating compelling characters that fit into a plot. It may sound like there’s some liberty there, but it really is an intricate process that requires an enormous amount of attention to detail.
Pearson finds inspiration for this craft through a woman by the name of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a British writer and actress who is best known for creating two TV series, Crashing (2016) and Fleabag (2016-2019).
Pearson draws on Waller-Bridge not only for guidance as a writer, but also as a stand up comic, a part-time gig that Pearson has been toying with for years. Pearson has no plans to ever fully immerse herself in that part of the entertainment industry, but she says that doing stand up helps improve other aspects of her writing.
“What’s your voice?” Pearson rhetorically asks. “That’s what everyone wants to see in your scripts, having a distinct point of view. Working on anything that’s my own has been super useful for figuring out what my point of view is. That’s why I like having other projects going on that are getting different audiences.”
Each day, the same goal remains for Pearson: continue to improve and come up with material that can eventually make its way into the hands of someone who wields a lot of influence.
That alone is no easy task.
“Something that is challenging is working on samples that won’t necessarily be seen by that many people. There is always a balance to be found between working on that and making things that go out into the world and get seen by people in an immediate way,” Pearson explains.
“With everything going on right now [coronavirus], I’ve been thinking more about how to be creative and how to make things that reach people. Since there are no guarantees that anything goes anywhere, it’s good to always have something that’s reaching an audience,” she says.
For as difficult and sometimes unrewarding as her journey has been thus far, Pearson has no plans of slowing down.
As long as there is a pen and a dream out there, you can bet that Pearson will be unwavering in her journey towards success and fulfillment.
Support Quentin Super today for $13.95 by purchasing his first novel, The Long Road North, here
Thank you to all who tuned in last week to read about my good friend Bo Moneyy’s recent happenings in Los Angeles!
Together, he and I decided to give away three signed copies of his albums, along with $50, to the reader who posted the best comment.
Here was that person’s comment:
“Bo’s drive and creativity never ceases to amaze me. When I met Bo 5 years ago he was a bartender at Brother’s Bar in St. Cloud. He told me he was a rapper. As a hip-hop head I was super interested in hearing his music. Anyone who has spent any time in St. Cloud knows theres lots of “rappers” so to hear quality music was a bit of a surprise, to be honest. Since then I’ve seen Bo perform live. I’ve seen dozens of hip-hop artists in my life and Bo really does an incredible job of entertaining. You can tell that he is extremely motivated and talented. Last year I went out to LA to kick it with Bo and I saw that same hustle we read in this post. He had been renting out part of his apartment to a co-worker and recording a YouTube series from his bedroom. It’s a bummer to know that Bo is having a tough time garnering a fan base. As a huge indie hip-hop fan I have no choice but to support in any way possible. I’ve attended every live show he’s done in my area and bought every project he’s put out. A lot of people lose site of their passions or hobbies but Bo persists and puts out more and more. Keep up the hustle Bo, it will pay off!”
This comment came courtesy of Mitch from Minnesota.
Thank you, Mitch, and thanks again to everyone who tuned in!