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Meet Trailblazer Katy Erin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katy Erin.

Katy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a performer. I was one of those weird kids who would put on plays and concerts in my living room for my family and friends. But by the time I got to high school and it came time to choose a college and a major, acting felt too much like a pipedream, so I went to film school to try to find anything else in the industry I could possibly do for a living. I dabbled in editing, cinematography, producing, even visual effects and motion graphics – but the only thing that brought me even remotely the same amount of joy that acting did was screenwriting. So, I moved to LA with the dream of being a TV writer, already having given up on being on screen.

However, within my first two years of living here, I was hit quickly with the fact that writing for a living was just as much a pipedream as acting was. I realized if I was going to be a starving artist and follow my dreams in the big city, I might as well commit to a dream that was actually mine. But I was already “in it” as a writer – I’ve never been able to let go of one thing to commit fully to the other. And because of that, I’ve been lucky enough to work as a showrunner’s assistant through several pilots and four seasons of TV, which has given me access to an incredible support system as a writer, as well as skills in producing and directing I didn’t even realize I was learning. I think I fell into writing because it was so clearly a compliment to the same passion that acting came from, and producing and directing were skills that I developed naturally in that space to compliment that same passion. So thankfully, my haphazard journey has allowed me to become practiced in each of those areas in a way that allows them each to inform the others, which makes me the annoying multi-hyphenate storyteller I am today.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Any time the journey gets tough, I try to remind myself that smooth roads make for boring stories. Many of my struggles have been typical; shitty feedback from casting directors, rejected screenplays because the reader “didn’t get my vision,” the constant financial hardship that comes with this town and industry. But I think my biggest struggle throughout the entirety of my twenties was learning to silence my inner critic and lift up my inner child. I spent a long time depending on others for my opportunities because I needed others to tell me that what I had to offer was worthwhile before I believed I had permission to put it out into the universe. I didn’t move myself forward or put myself out there as much as I should have because I didn’t want to be bad. And what I learned very recently is that that’s not going to go away. Part of what drives me is the impossibly high standards I set for myself, but they have stilted me for a long time. So, I’m probably never going to believe I’m good. And I thought I needed to complete a self-love journey and convince myself that my art was worthwhile before I could feel good about putting it out there. But what I realized as I got older was I was wasting away waiting to feel good enough. Now, I just don’t care anymore whether I’m good or not. I’m going to die whether I make my shit or not, and none of it can be good or bad until it exists. So, I might as well make it and see what happens. So, my advice to anyone, especially women, who are out there struggling or just starting off, is this: Yeah, maybe it is bad. Make it anyway.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am an actor, writer, director, and producer. As an actor, I’ve been on TV shows like WISDOM OF THE CROWD on CBS and SHAMELESS on Showtime. But I think I’m probably best known right now for my lead role in the web series GAL PALS. It’s a show I’m profoundly proud of because it’s a queer & femme-driven project about queer & femme people, and our fans are the absolute best. This year, I performed as lead in my first feature film, which was an incredibly validating experience; that movie is called MILLENNIUM BUGS and will be hitting the festival circuit in 2020.

My first project as a director/producer was a grounded coming-out comedy short called OUT OF IT, which is currently traipsing about the queer film festival circuit and has won a couple of awards. And while everything I write tends to feature queer women, my favorite thing to write is sci-fi dark comedy; an odd niche, I know. But it’s one I’ve really found my voice in. Personal drama is hilarious when the universe is at stake. I very recently wrapped my second short film, BOOTSTRAPPED, about a woman who travels back in time to try to save her relationship, claiming that their breakup causes the end of the world. It’s meant to serve as a sort of proof-of-concept for a feature I’m developing and aiming to shoot next summer. Above all, I love to tell and be a part of stories that feature women and queer people in roles that women and queer people still don’t always get to be seen in in mainstream media.

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
I’m not much of a podcast listener, but boy howdy can I recommend some books.
If you’re a creator of any kind: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Read it now and reread it often.
If you’re a writer: Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott, The whole Save the Cat collection by Blake Snyder, How to Write a Movie in 21 Days by Viki King.
If you’re an actor or director: Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen, Self-Management for Actors by Bonnie Gillespie, True and False by David Mamet (to be read with a grain of salt), Directing Actors by Judith Weston, How Not To Make a Short Film by Roberta Marie Monroe.
And yes, I suggest actors read books about directing, and directors read books about acting because I think being good at one means being able to hear to the other.
I’m sure there are others I’m not thinking of at the moment. But I can’t stress enough how The Artist’s Way and Bird By Bird changed my life. So, if you’re only going to take a couple from this list, go with those two.

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Image Credit:
Mary Tap Howard, Dan Almasy, Michael Klapp

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