On February 17th, Barry students were invited to attend an event hosted by the Department of English and Foreign Languages, organized by Dr. Andrea Greenbaum. Writer Gisselle Legere is a deaf Cuban woman who made her break into the behind-the-scenes Hollywood industry after recording her very first short on her iPhone. And now, she is credited as a scriptwriter of the hit TV show, Quantico.
Legere talked about her experience in the industry and what it looks like to make it in Hollywood. It was an informative, almost conversational lecture between students and speaker, where everyone enjoyed a slice of pizza and a cookie, while a hot-shot Hollywood writer sat in front of them. For the grand finale, two students walked away with a signed copy of a Quantico script, written by Legere.
She says, “one piece of writing is a hobby, multiple show passion or talent.” An important piece of advice to those who need that push into a career in writing. She wrote and shot six shorts in one year. She acknowledges that they weren’t the best, but it gave her the big push towards where she is today.
“Producing my shorts made me a better writer because it taught me what’s important to get on paper, and what’s not.” She reflects on the writing classes she had taken more than once, “I don’t think I would have gotten as much out of the classes if I had not spent so much effort trying and failing on my own.”
Legere explored what it is to work in a project room, what it means to do an elevator pitch ¬– where you sell yourself to producers and showrunners for an entire minute¬ – and how far a good personality can take you. She talked about her failed attempt at a novel as she was working as an epidemiologist and how she made connections that circle back to her four years later.
She continues, “There’s also value in being able to understand the possibilities and limitations each department brings to your story, perhaps most importantly, how to leave space for collaboration and others’ visions, which can do so much to elevate yours.”
She started with her first feature script, which landed her at Sundance Screenwriters Intensive, along with our very own, Dr. Greenbaum. The next year, she wrote a spec¬– a sample for an existing television show– which landed her a gig in the Disney-ABC program, which later got her on Quantico.
Legere also answered questions from students about what shows she watches, and how important they are to her job. What are her recommended ways to network? She suggested attending film festivals, talking with your writing classmates, and being productive in the industry you are trying to flourish in.
Gisselle Legere’s current goal is to be a showrunner, she wants to be the big boss in production and have control over almost everything and anything in it. She advises students to not be shy, to be productive and not reactive, and to continue writing no matter what. She gave students the inside scoop for writing in Hollywood from her perspective and encouraged them to put themselves out there.
A two-hour-long event that made a big impact on Barry writers. Thank you to Dr. Greenbaum for bringing such a helpful and inspiring speaker, we look forward to your next event!
Submitted by: Jessica Espinoza, Major in English with a Specialization in Professional Writing. Graduating May 2022.