They say if you want to get noticed as a writer in Hollywood, write a biopic. Well, Anna Klassen did just that with When Lightning Strikes, which follows Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling as a young woman, and she was rewarded with high-ranking placements on both the 2017 Black List and the 2017 Hit List. Take that, superheroes!
The cleverly-titled When Lightning Strikes chronicles the true story of 25-year-old Joanne Rowling as she weathers first loves, unexpected pregnancies, lost jobs, and depression on her journey to create Harry Potter.
Rowling makes for an excellent biopic subject, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Warner Bros. snapped this one up, since the studio has a preexisting relationship with the author. I suppose it all depends on whether Rowling is supportive of the project, or whether she intends to stand in its way, like Madonna has with Universal’s Blond Ambition. But still, can you imagine how many A-list actresses would be chomping at a bit for a role as juicy as this one? This is the kind of calling card script that should get Klassen meetings all over town.
When Lightning Strikes earned 20 votes on the Black List, which was good for sixth place. Klassen topped more experienced scribes such as Misha Green, Chris Sparling, Will Beall and the team of JD Payne and Patrick McKay. The script tied for 17th place on the Hit List, earning 37 votes.
Klassen took to Twitter to thank Rowling personally for her inspiring story, calling her “a woman I admire beyond words. Her story is her own — & I have tried to tell it with love, care, & respect.” The up-and-coming scribe then added that in the flood of congratulations, she was actually pulled over Monday morning for texting while driving. While the cop congratulated her on the good news, he still had to write her a ticket. She should be able to afford it, given her newfound heat in Hollywood.
Klassen recently left her job as the entertainment editor at Bustle to focus on her budding writing career, which also includes a newly-signed book deal. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism, and has been living in Los Angeles for the past six years. Klassen was selected as a 2017 ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellow for her pilot script 14 Words. She’s represented by manager Bash Naran at Plattform and an all-female team of agents at WME.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief