About Me — Elan Cassandra

Writer, screenwriter, person…?

Hiking in Colorado (photo by me)

Is there anything more sweat-inducing than the classic, “So tell me about yourself?” (Nope. I am literally sweating through my palms onto my keyboard right now.)

Don’t get me wrong; I think this publication is awesome! I just don’t know how to do this right.

There’s just something that feels futile and reductive about trying to tell someone who you are in the space of one Medium story.

But maybe I’m a little more f*cked up in regards to “about me’s” than your average bear.

See, back in the day, 10–12 years ago, I thought I was going to be an actor, and as a part of that, I took several “business of acting” classes. These were designed to help us nail down who we were — what our brand was, how we were supposed to sell ourselves, etc.

The first class was a semester long and included numerous exercises that were meant to combine my knowledge of myself with what other people thought of me. I needed answers to questions like: Who did I look like? What were my key personality traits? What perceptions did people have of me? What actresses played the types of parts that I could play?

I was given feedback on these and more from both classmates and complete strangers, and yet I came out of that class with less of an idea of how to think of and market myself than I had when going into it. My classmates didn’t agree with each other, and even the strangers who were consulted gave hugely different answers with no perceivable pattern.

Over the next two years, I took two more such courses at different acting schools in New York, and I got even further contradictions. Did people see me as outgoing or shy? Angsty? Bubbly? Did I come across as the good girl or the girl your mother was worried about?

At the time, I thought the struggle was just because I didn’t know who I was yet. I was 18, 19, 20 — just a couple of years out of the house. Maybe I just hadn’t grown into myself yet.

And yes, that was true.

But even today, consult those closest to me and you’ll get a lot of different answers: I’m passionate, empathetic, “capable of near-psychopathic compartmentalization,” stubborn, understanding, hot-tempered, nurturing, weird, judgy, open, silly, melancholy, daring, a homebody. It’s not that I act differently around each person; I’m just complicated.

Really, I think most people are complicated when you get down to it. When you look at all of the pieces that make up a person, you get so much history and so many contradictions. (Maybe I just wear mine closer to the surface and make it difficult for people to pin me down.)

But that complexity in people is why I find human beings interesting.

It’s why my fiction and screenwriting tend to be very character-driven, and it’s why my nonfiction work here on Medium is about people — me and those around me.

Look, I would be more than happy to tell you anything you wanted to know. I’m genuinely an open book.

But I can’t effectively tell you who I am in the space of this page. I think that’s what the dozens of stories I’ve written here on Medium are for; each one contains different parts of me.


Since you insist, I’ll throw you a few bullet points…

My “resume”

  • I was a homeschooled kid who grew up in a swamp in Florida.
  • My family members are smart, stubborn, emotional, and terrible with finances.
  • I grew up doing more extracurricular activities than academics, and I worked as a crewmember on my first film set when I was twelve.
  • As a child, I wanted to be an author, and as a young teen, I thought I’d be a screenwriter.
  • But apparently, I forgot about that. I went to acting school in Vancouver and moved to New York to pursue the life of a living prop. It mostly sucked.
  • And I hated being a burden, so I got a “real” part-time job. And then a real full-time job. I worked in Aquatics, teaching swimming and building swim programs for about ten years.
  • I put myself back in school and got a degree in Creative Writing and Screenwriting. Now, I’m trying to figure out how the hell to make a career out of it. And how to make rent this month…

Fun Facts

  • I’ve seen alligator eggs hatch and baby alligators carried to the water by their mother…from a mulch pile in our backyard.
  • I’m not afraid of snakes, spiders, bugs, rodents, or anything in a similar vein. I will happily take them out of the house for you.
  • I love true crime podcasts, and horror films and books. The more stressed out I am, the better they are — much easier on me than the melodrama of a primetime TV show or the cringe of a sitcom.
  • The first thing I ever officially wrote and submitted was to LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow contest for kids. I was about eight and wrote about the time our property flooded and we had to canoe back to our house (which was up on stilts).
  • I feel like I was born a mom, and I will act as anyone’s “mom,” regardless of their age or mine. (I do not yet have any legal children.)
  • I don’t feel embarrassed often. I have conducted quite a few staff meetings while sitting on the floor because d*mmit, that’s where I feel comfortable.
  • I love every kind of dessert, and gummy somethings (preferably by Haribo) are my favorite snack.
  • I love sauces. If I ever have a traditional wedding, I will have a “sauce buffet.” (Think reverse fondue. Few things to dip and many to dip into.)
  • My mom’s Canadian, and with the Canadian citizenship she passed down to me, I could technically have gotten the hell out of here if Mr. Orange had won another term (which he did not!).
  • I traveled a lot when I was a kid, going with my dad on his work trips. I recall ventures to England and Scotland, the Netherlands, Japan, Egypt (not a work trip), and obviously, Canada, as well around the U.S.
  • My dad now lives in Germany, and while I can’t speak German to the point that it has any utility, I love the way it feels when the words come out of my mouth pronounced correctly.
  • I have issues with depression and anxiety, and medications help, but still, some days are a struggle. I come from a long line of unhappy women: mother, grandmother, great-grandmother — I lose the lineage there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it went back forever.
  • It is not hard for me to love people. It is very easy.

Ongoing Project

I’m currently working on what will become a relatively expansive series of essays exploring infidelity through both research and personal stories.

To this end, I’m currently collecting experiences from those who have been in any way affected by an affair or affairs. If you think you may have a story or experience you’d like to share, you can find more information in the story below.

Reach Out

I genuinely like connecting with people, so please feel free to reach out. I’m on all the social media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. My website is here. (If for some reason you want swimming info, well, by all means, you can get that version of me here.)

I co-edit three publications on here Medium! The most recent is About Me Stories, the very publication you’re reading from now.

The other two are: Introspection, Exposition with my writing partner Shain Slepian, and Fill in the Blanks, a Mad Libs style humor publication with my friend Quy Ma.

And yes, both of these have social media accounts too. Fill in the Blanks is on Twitter, and Introspection, Exposition is on Instagram and Twitter.

Medium Stories

I’ve been writing on Medium since July 2020, and I’ve amassed quite a few stories and articles. On the off-chance you’re interested, I’ve included some of them below, categorized by content or genre. (Please understand that these are not extensive lists.)

(Just a Few) Distributed Stories

Mental Health


Coming of Age

True Crime

Mad Libs Style Stories in Fill in the Blanks

Just a Bit Off-Beat


New Family

Life Lessons

Writing Advice


Hey, you made it all the way to the bottom! Here’s a bonus photo for you.

me at 3 or 4 years old — in a canoe on the swampy lake I grew up on (photo by dad, George Duensing)

Writer and Writing Mentor. Screenwriter. Honest. Human. She/Her. @elancassandra on Instagram, @ElanCDuensing on Twitter. https://linktr.ee/elancassandra

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