I had the privilege to interview my high school best friend Gloria yesterday for my forthcoming book, Road Rules for Leading Ladies. Gloria Calderon Kellett is a comedy writer in Hollywood who has had enormous and ongoing success ever since she dipped her toe into Tinsel Town 11 years ago. She started out as an assistant for Academy Award winning Writer/Director Cameron Crowe and has gone on to sell original pilots to CBS, ABC, FOX & TVLAND. She also wrote on successful shows such as “How I Met Your Mother,” “Rules of Engagement,” and is currently a writer and producer on the new show “Devious Maids.” The picture atop is Gloria and I on the day of my wedding in Atlanta getting ‘beautified’ for the ceremony. She was my matron of honor.
She observes themes in Hollywood that get in the way of more women having greater success in senior level writing and performing roles. These are exactly the same themes that prevent women from consistently succeeding in many other professional industries at a senior level.
Gloria kicked off the call stating:
“Katie the most important thing for women to understand is that they have to be their own warrior. You have to fight for yourself and self promotion is critical.
I see a lot of women being uneasy in this realm. Particularly in Hollywood, you need to constantly ask people to read your scripts, come see you perform-and for women who find their work to be so personal—they can get really uncomfortable if they see it as setting themselves up for personal disappointment or even rejection if people don’t show up or worse don’t laugh at your jokes.
Speaking for myself, women have to get past taking their work so personally. Men seem to be less sensitive about their work…and thus more successful in a lot of ways. You have to raise your masculinity in this regard.
For me, I recognize that I am a sensitive person, I do have thin skin but I think my sensitivity is part of what makes me a good writer, once I recognized that I was not ever going to be able to thicken my skin, I seriously considered if this was the business for me. I decided it was, so then I asked myself how am I going to weather the storm?
Once I realized it’s not personal, it’s a business—things really shifted for me for the better.
Secondly, in order to be consistently successful you can never get comfortable. You have to constantly put yourself in a state of discomfort. Because in Hollywood, even if you get a writing or an acting gig, anything could get cancelled the next day. You are never allowed to ‘sit back’, ever. No matter who you are.
A third point Gloria wanted to stress was that she saw a stark difference between herself and her male counterparts because many of them had a wife;meaning someone at home supporting everything that they did and helping them keep their life in order so that these men can go and focus on their work. For Gloria, and so many power house women I know like her, hiring an assistant changed her life for the better in this regard. Now, she says, “I have a wife,” in addition to a doting husband who has a busy career as a top cartoonist (SheldonComics.com). This added support allows her to buy time so that when she gets home after her 12 hour days at the Disney studio she doesn’t have to schlep to the grocery store, etc, –rather she can be present with her young family (yes, she has a 3 month old son and a daughter in primary school).
Thank you Gloria for sharing your story with us and for being a part of this book—you are a hero to us all!