The 2014 Young & Hungry List came out yesterday, tracking 100 writers and writing teams who are on the verge of breaking out. We’ve already examined the breakdowns of both the writers and their representation, as well as looked back at some of the success stories of years past. Now, we want to take a look at how this year’s writers got started.
As we mentioned in our writers breakdown, this year’s honorees had some incredibly diverse entry points into the industry. The 2014 list has journalists, playwrights, game designers, actors, and scientists — in addition to a number of writers who took a more traditional path into the business.
Take, for instance, Victoria Aveyard. Though she has a degree in screenwriting, Aveyard’s first break in writing was on the printed page; she sold her YA novel The Red Queen to HarperTeen, and is currently at work on the sequel. Her film success followed, when she sold her spec Eternal to Sony. Laura Eason, on the other hand, writes plays, like Sex with Strangers, which debuted at Chicago’s Steppenwolf theater. In a time when authors like Gillian Flynn are taking to the screen (both for the adaptation of her novel Gone Girl and for David Fincher’s upcoming series Utopia) and TV writers like Suzanne Collins are publishing bestselling YA series, it’s good to see that today’s young writers aren’t limiting their work to a single medium.
A number of this year’s honorees started out in front of the camera. Trent Atkinson made the rounds of the Australian soap operas, before he leveraged a guest arc on Home & Away into a more permanent position in the writers’ room. Now he’s setting up specs with Andrew Panay Productions and Night and Day Pictures. One of this year’s writers was even a Daytime Emmy nominee; Richard Eden got the nod for his work on Santa Barbara. With the likes of Emma Thompson and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck moving back and forth from writing to acting, it’s not hard to see why these Y&H writers would want to get in on the action.
Others come from fields that aren’t even related to film and television. Rosalind Ross was a world champion equestrian vaulter. Now, she’s writing for El Rey’s spy series Matador (which contrary to the title has nothing to do with bull fights — or with equestrian vaulting, for that matter), and co-writing a feature script for Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions. Andrew Friedhof and Asmin Pathare, meanwhile, started out in the sciences. Civil engineering (Friedhof) and planetary science (Pathare) don’t seem like obvious jumping off points for a career in film and television, but they’ve both made it work; Friedhof set up his script Stat with Smart Entertainment and is prepping a sci-fi pilot, while Pathare has been making a splash in writing competitions like the Launch Pad Pilots Competition, the Austin Film Festival, and Harvardwood.
The lesson from this year’s list seems to be that there’s no one way to become a screenwriter. There are as many ways into the business as there are aspiring writers, and the key — as this year’s honorees can surely tell you — is to keep writing, keep looking, and stay hungry.