The entertainment business is a lot like high school. So many people will love you one minute, hate you the next, you’ll be prom queen one year and Carrie the next. Don’t stop, because you will eventually graduate and live it all over again like Groundhog Day.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Miranda Bowden. Miranda wrote her first story at age eight about a mushroom invasion of earth. These days, the native Angeleno’s stories have outgrown veggie-tales about the planet’s destruction to include her breakout novel Caitlin, a thrilling story of family secrets, nightmares and secret societies. Born second to the last of six girls and one boy, writing became an outlet for Bowden, defining her creative spirit among her equally talented siblings. Growing up between the LA Hollywood scene and spending their summers in the artsy world of the Bay Area, her free-spirited parents exposed them to culture, ingenuity and a fearlessness to push the envelope. An adventurous thrill seeker, who has been skydiving and has plans to bungee jump from the tallest point she can find, Bowden celebrates “living a life with no regrets,” every day. Known for bringing people together in extraordinary ways, she can be found in the middle of a writing circle pushing her fellow artists, or “getting dirty” camping, fishing and hiking with her friends and family. Bowden studied engineering at California State University, Northridge, and later began her career working for the heads of several Fortune 500 companies, in human resources and finance. No matter her day job, though, Bowden has always remained a committed writer, developing stories that speak to unique human experiences. When she’s not writing, Bowden can be found searching for inspiration at live jazz concerts, traveling, in the kitchen cooking for family and friends or out and about living life and stimulating all who cross her path. She lives in Inglewood, California with her husband and daughter.
Thank you for joining us! Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I hosted a writing group for six years and at one meeting a friend suggested entering a contest for ColorCreative/BET. I had never written a treatment, a pitch or anything that could remotely resemble a script but I took a chance on an idea I’ve had for years and advanced to the second round. I drove my husband, friends and anyone who would listen crazy as I worked tirelessly to flush out the idea. Books and short stories were my life but this was not that. It opened up a whole new world of writing for me and a fire was lit. I dove so far down the rabbit hole, I still pinch myself that this life actually became true.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Growing up in LA, you become numb to celebrities and the Hollywood life. One weekend, I was asked to work on a film project that will go unnamed. I was so excited as it all came together and that my opinions and suggestions were actually respected. At the end of the day as we are wrapping up the creative says, “Okay we will wait for Debbie to get back to us with notes and then go from there.” I remember dying a little bit because he meant THEE DEBBIE ALLEN was going to look at work I contributed too and “get back to us”. I felt the room spin because it hit me like a ton of bricks that I was working with the greats. Little ol’ me was in the presence of legends and they knew my name. WOW! It’s still wow when I think about it.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’ll never forget it. I was working on a set and a manager of a guest star came up to me and gave me a hug. I didn’t know him but he swore he knew me. He was talking and I was smiling. I let him go on forever. When he walked away, my coworker asked how I knew him and I said I didn’t. We laughed for the whole day because I thought it was over. But it wasn’t. This person mistook me for whoever he thought I was for a month. Finally, one day, he figured it out and we laughed but he said to me, “Why didn’t you just tell me the first day?”. I told him I was new and I didn’t want to embarrass him or myself. We are still friends to this day and it’s an inside joke. I learned that it’s always better to be yourself and make sure people know your name.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am working on two projects right now. One is a psychological horror/thriller that tells the story of a middle-aged black woman driven to seek vigilante justice after being attacked in her home. The other is a reality-based show that will seek to explore cultural influences in the music, film and sports industries.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
The most important reason for diversity in the entertainment industry is audiences want to see someone who represents their “real life” on screen. They want to see someone who represents what they stand for, someone who is experiencing triumphs and trials they have been through and someone who represents what they see in the mirror every morning. They want to see characters that don’t represent stereotypes and prejudgments. When we staff our sets, rooms, and projects with people from all walks of life we guarantee ourselves a better chance at getting the “world” on screen right. By including diverse representation in our development deals we are also exposing studios, and production houses to a range of ideas, thinking’s and cultural philosophies they might not be aware of. The entertainment industry sets trends across marketing, promotions, music, sports, etc., and without our involvement in the fight for equality, we will miss moments to change the perceptions people have of one another. We have an opportunity and duty to change the landscape of an entire world, not just the industry.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Timelines will drive you nuts. When I first started people preached the 10-year journey to your first success and here I was turning 39. I didn’t want to be almost 50 chasing a dream but I decided regardless of when it happened at least I was doing it.
2. Art is subjective. My first contest submissions, which were wildly wrong on so many levels, reached the second round of two contests so my ego was lit! I was so impressed with myself that I checked out of the reality that they hadn’t actually won. My next few tries failed miserably and I had to regroup and get back to business. Everyone isn’t going to like everything. Even if they think you’re great.
3. Your voice is authentic because it’s yours. Everyone I’ve ever spoken to in this business made it on a project that spoke to their soul or life experience. Write what you know. It’ll flow like the river Jordan.
4. The entertainment business is a lot like high school. So many people will love you one minute, hate you the next, you’ll be prom queen one year and Carrie the next. Don’t stop, because you will eventually graduate and live it all over again like groundhog’s day.
5. NEVER STOP LEARNING. I read so many scripts. I watch so many youtube and Vimeo training guides and scenes from movies I love. I listen to podcasts and shoot stuff with my phone. A friend of mine told me to create my own world if the one I hoped for didn’t exist.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take breaks. Read. Go to the spa. Take a trip. Plan a vacation, staycation, Netflix binge-watching day. Just do something that reminds you that real-life still exists outside of deadlines. Also, remember what it felt like to be new in the business. Give back. Visit the set of a newbie who is just trying to make it the way you were. Lend your ear, or advice or even a hand. Comedians go back on stage when they feel stagnant because the audience is unforgiving and reminds them how hard they had to work to make it. Filmmakers and writers should do the same. Enter a contest and see if you would still win. It brings you back to the craft!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I could inspire a movement it would be similar to the #WCW or #TBT trend but it would be focused on humble bragging. I love, love, love hearing someone’s good news, no matter what it is. Society doesn’t make it okay to celebrate your wins, regardless of size. We are supposed to remain modest or only clap for the people we know, but some people don’t have a tribe clapping for them. And I love clapping. LOUDLY. I want to shout my friends, family and even strangers’ accomplishments from the rooftop. What if we did that? #TalkAboutItTuesday
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Bentley Kyle Evans! Master writer, creator, director, producer, all-around great guy and mentor. Bentley literally changed the landscape of 90’s television with Martin and the Jamie Foxx Show. My first season writing on his show Family Time, we turned in our script and it was in the wrong format. Instead of it being the required 36–40 pages it was something like 60+ pages. All the air and wind left the room and then everyone started laughing, joking and teasing us about it. There wasn’t any ego that was meant to chop us down or put us in our place, it was all love and that has been the extent of his writers’ room every single day that I’ve been in it. He is always willing to offer a story or word that teaches us; either about the business, writing or just life in general. He calls me badass Miranda because I’m always in the mix and he swears I was the bad kid in school. I feel like I belong to the family when I walk on that set.
Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Mind your own, you’ll live long.” This quote has served me well in focusing on my own life, decisions, consequences and the like. It has kept me from drowning in the drama of other people’s worlds and just being present when and where I want.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
I would absolutely kill to have lunch with Stephen King. His stories, movies, teachings changed the way I looked at storytelling. He honestly changed the way I looked at horror and thrillers in general. I’ve always been fascinated by the inside workings of people who do horrible things and his in-depth character development has lent to the success of every piece of work he’s created. I would literally give my right arm for a legacy like his.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am on IG: @iam_mirandabowden and on Twitter: @miranda_bowden
Thank you for all of these great insights!