We had the good fortune of connecting with Carly Woods and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carly, how do you think about risk?
Risk is everything. I am either overthinking every step or operating on impulse. It’s in those risky moments, though, where I’ve had the most powerful breakthroughs in my life and career. Everyone has intuition, and I find the more I listen to mine, the more intentional I become, and the more pieces of the ever expanding puzzle come together. Not every chance you take works out, but I’d rather go out on a limb than not find the branch at all. Whether it’s being approached for projects, booking rooms, moving across the country on a whim, or creating my own opportunities, it all requires risk — and the unwavering faith and confidence that you *can* pull it off. I just always want to be better. I want to keep growing, and more than anything I want to shake things up. Revolutionaries were never making strides without risk and determination. Trusting yourself and taking chances is the backbone of the creative journey, and honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m really grateful to be surrounded with amazing friends and creators who inspire me every day, even in the hardest times. What changed the game for me was finding people I didn’t just enjoy creating with, but the people that challenged the way I think. Nothing is ‘easy’, and everyone’s experiences are going to be vastly different, but the one certain thing I can say is the key to overcoming challenges time and time again is creating a support system that encourages your development, calls you out when you’re wrong, and loves the crap out of you. I wouldn’t be here without the people in my life. Every accomplishment I have, I owe in part to them. As for lessons, all I can say is don’t wait for opportunities to happen to you. Make them. Seek them out. Collaborate, and be open to all kinds of feedback. Not every note is right, but the ones that linger with you usually are. Trust your gut. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Sustain your passion, sustain your faith, and, to bring this full circle and quote Aaron Sorkin: “Take risks, dare to fail, and remember the first person through the wall always gets hurt.” I feel like it’s my responsibility to elevate another artist whenever I can. We need our melting pot of voices to have honest, reflective stories. My works as an artist, if anything, try to be as honest (and sometimes harsh) as possible. There’s truth in comedy. There’s truth in drama. Everything about me and the world I experience makes its way into my work. It’s my promise to expand my own view of the world to include however many voices and experiences I possibly can. Success doesn’t happen alone. I sincerely cannot wait for our generations to change the world.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Okay. Let’s start this out with the obvious: food. Trejos breakfast burritos. Eat This Cafe on Santa Monica Blvd. Tatsu Ramen on Melrose (Bold Ramen with egg, and their Ramen Burger — trust me on this one, just try it). El Coyote, all day every day. Shiki Sushi in Studio City. Canter’s Deli. Karl Strauss Brewery at CityWalk Universal. The One Up on Ventura Blvd; it’s a little bar with free arcade machines (I’m a Pac-Man fiend), photo booths, bomb house draught, Cap’n Crunch Chicken Wings, and they’re always playing some 80s movie. As far as spots, I’m really a traditionalist. I love taking out of town friends to the tourist spots, like Hollywood & Highland and Disneyland, but honestly my favorite thing is just driving up into the hills and finding a spot to look at the skyline. Instant inspiration. Absolute magic. It gets me every time. I also just really love the Arclight. Looking at the costume displays, getting dinner at the bar, grabbing a coffee on the way out. It’s a perfect night for me.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This sounds insane — believe me, this is not a mentorship type of relationship; he has no earthly clue who I am — but I gotta say Aaron Sorkin. I’ve had a lot of people throughout my life that have come and gone who have made life changing impacts on my journey as a creator. Some people I’ve talked about before, like my best friends, my sister, writers and directors I’ve worked with, and there is not a single book I can cite that a budding screenwriter hasn’t already been gifted twice over (all of which are fantastic, and you absolutely should check out — all time favorites are ‘Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life’ by Anne Lamott, and ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King, both which were gifted to an overly ambitious preteen me by my mother). All of them (you know who you are) have all of my love and appreciation, and my only hope is I give them back that same love and support tenfold. They’ve been here for me through some of the hardest, darkest parts of my life. That recognition is extremely intimate to me. So, that being said, back to my embarrassment: crediting an Academy Award winning screenwriter who has never heard my name once in his life. There are some influences that work their way inside your skull and grow roots until they seemingly become a fundamental part of who you are. When I was a child, for me, that movie was The American President. It would mark only the beginning of my admiration of Rob Reiner, and honestly, every single member of that cast and crew. The American President woke me up. Legitimately, it was like a switch was flipped inside my brain and I began hearing everything as dialogue. It’s what got me desperate to write. It’s what got me listening to how people talk and studying how real life makes its way into scripts. I still have the movie memorized — which, admittedly, I have most of his works memorized. Sorkin truly became such an inspiration for me. I’ve always been politically minded, and he was the first and strongest influence for me that continued to push me to raise my own bar. Say more. Be intentional with every beat. Push every boundary. And, for what it’s worth — I texted several people, asking who they thought I should shout out, and unanimously they all said some variation of, “I just think of Aaron Sorkin when I think of you,” so. If his Oscar wasn’t enough recognition, maybe the knowledge I have a “What’s next?” (The West Wing) tattoo will be. (I’d also like to say Father of the Bride is the only movie to rival my childhood influence, and if I could monologue about it right now, too, I would. Nancy Meyers, you’ve got my whole heart.)