“Give me a couple of years, and I’ll make that actress an overnight success,” said one of Hollywood’s founding executives, Samuel Goldwyn. Perhaps, this is true of all creative careers; it’s certainly been for mine! Over the years, the mistakes, rejection, ill-informed decisions, and stated words I wished I could re-gobble have been better life coaches than the successes — in life and love. But, I’m old school that way; I value character, and I sincerely believe that’s not built overnight or by repeatedly winning.
Writer-pal Aaron Goldfarb says, “The other day I was thinking about how much stuff one has to actually write before they can produce work good enough that the world actually wants it.” Read his update “Everything I’ve Ever Written.” Pages of bound handwritten journals line my shelves because I’ve kept a written journal since I was 14 years old. As a teen, my tiny Illinois hometown newspaper published my kick-ass, pro-feminist, pro-cheerleading letter to the editor. I also wrote for the high school yearbook and newspaper. Professionally, I’ve hosted a TV show and a radio show and appeared as a guest on others. Samples of my professional work are online; even more has been published and there’s still more yet to become public.
Answering Goldfarb’s call to fellow writers to reveal their unpublished work, here’s the synopsis of a secret film I wrote submitted in 2006 while atÂ Tisch, with the actors I wished I could attached to it:
JUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY
Director/Screenwriter: Twanna A. Hines
U.S.A. | 2006 | 96 min. | Drama-Comedy
Synopsis: Judas Berkovitz (Juan Carlos Rodriguez) is a biracial 17-year old in Decatur, Illinois, who has a high school diploma and not much else. His parents, a Puerto Rican beautician (Rosie Perez) and a younger Russian-Jewish social worker (Liev Schreiber), are divorced but they agree on one thing: Jude needs do something productive for a change. Inspired by a flyer announcing New York’s outrageous “4th Annual Misses Mister Drag Queen Competition,” Jude secretly submits an application and prepares for his colorful debut. In the blustery chain of events that ensue, Jude seeks his parents’ acceptance, explores America on a roadtrip from the cornfields to New York City, and discovers the true meaning of community.
Logline: A feel-good, coming-of-age comedy about a directionless 17-year-old Puerto Rican Illinoisan who secretly enters New York City’s “Misses Mister” drag queen competition to find a community of his own.
Tagline: Growing up is a drag.
Similar Movies: Full Monty, Tootsie, Trick, Kiss Me Guido, and Strictly Ballroom.
Director’s Statement: Iâ€™ve created “Jude Looks Like a Lady” for anyone and everyone who has felt outside of the mainstream at some point or another. Jude’s story isn’t just another coming out story, and it isn’t a tale about being Puerto Rican. Jude teaches us about belonging; itâ€™s about searching for community in a world that is often sublimely mundane. My goal in creating “Jude Looks Like a Lady” was to create a film that people could relate to in a very real, but comical, way. I want audiences to laugh out loud at the screen as they say, “Hey, I was that kid when I was in high school, too!”