We had the good fortune of connecting with Dawn Garcia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dawn, let’s start by having you share some wisdom with us. What advice would you give to a friend facing insurmountable odds?
Life is messy. Its full of chaos, uncertainty, victories, challenges, wins, losses, grief, trauma, courage, and opportunity. When we feel like the world is coming for us and the stress or odds seem overwhelming, that’s when our ability to confront the fear and the doubt matters most. In these present times, its fair to say none of us know what is ahead, but rather than be paralyzed by what none of us can possibly control or predict, tap into your tenacity, your brevity, your inner strength and push through the doubt and fear like a root bursting through a block of cement. The need for light and positivity is inherent and every time you feel circumstances beyond you have won? Remember that blade of grass that grew through the sidewalk, or the cinderblocks on a wall, or that forced its way through a firmly rooted tree. It happens. Light breaks through and our need to survive and thrive wins out. Don’t allow the weight of the world to stop you from growth. These moments when the odds seem stacked against us are the moments we get to redefine who we are and how much courage we are capable of. Remember: our physiological response to fear is EXACTLY the same physiological response we have to courage. So when you feel afraid? Tell yourself what you are is brave. And don’t allow doubt or the chaos of others dictate your ability to shine. The moments of uncertainty is where beauty exposes itself. Don’t you dare give up on yourself. You’ve got this.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally? How did you get here and what sets you apart?
I am a writer (screenwriter, journalist, and author). My world exists and dwells in the space and the power of words. I am an avid lover of story, art, design, film, and music and I take that passion and bring it to life in words. I suppose what sets me apart from others is my style of writing. I always write to the readers or the viewers, like a love letter of sorts. My strengths are in creating descriptors and writing dialogue. I can close my eyes imagining my fingers dancing across the keyboard like a passionate pianist, enveloped in a place where words, phrases, and the cadence of experiences whirl around me like a gushing wind. Unseen yet deeply felt. I cannot tell a story unless I firmly believe in it, including the characters that I create, many of which are inspired by real people or characteristics of people I’ve come across in my lifetime. And I’ve had a lot of trauma in my life so writing has become the modality of release. It’s been a beautiful gift.
As for how I got here, I suppose writing chose me. I’ve been writing since I was six years old. I’ve always had an active imagination, but I never imagined I’d be a writer by profession. I started out convinced I would be a makeup and special effects artist, and have 2400 hours of practical training in cosmetology and prosthetics, lighting, stage, and time period makeup. I worked as a makeup and special effects artist for years and was successful but when a family situation arose, I chose to leave that world behind and go back to school for writing. (My English teachers in junior high and high school were so damn glad I finally did!) My road has NOT been easy, but it has been disciplined. I’ve written just about every day for almost 40 years. When I don’t, I feel like I’ve lost my breath. The challenges in this industry are in finishing projects.
Words are my outlet and honestly, I love toggling between film, television, and journalism. I get to flex different parts of my mind and explore multiple platforms of creativity—and not one of them are the same. I am fortunate that my producer and manager push projects, submit them to networks, and stay on it. I’m a person who gets things done and I expect others to have that same sense of urgency… sometimes that can be frustrating but that’s why having the right people on your team matters. Still, that is where outlets like Coverfly, Blcklist, Women in Entertainment, and such come in. They provide multiple outlets to really be seen by industry execs and get your work noticed quicker than usual (if you win or place in competitions and get great feedback of course).
What advice would you give?
Lessons I’ve learned: don’t be lazy, don’t be entitled, and never think you’re as good as you should be. Strive to be better every single day, take criticism, understand when someone’s feedback is opinion or actual feedback you should apply to your projects, and stop making excuses. If you’re a writer? Stop waiting for the world to be quiet or the environment to be ideal. There’s no such thing. Buck up and just write! And by god, learn how to spell correctly and be versed in grammar and punctuation! Best advice my agent/producer gave me? Don’t be good. Be GREAT!
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Oh my! In light of the coronavirus, I’ve never been more eager to get back to places I love and miss so this might be one hell of an itinerary! SoCal really does have SO much to do but since LA is where I am most of the time, go to the beach. Particularly El Matador State Beach in Malibu. And I grew up as a kid in Santa Monica so the Pier is a bit nostalgic for me.
Art: LACMA and The Getty Museum – my favorite museums and places to fill the creative void. DTLA Arts District and Row DTLA. Go see a movie at ArcLight. Walk around Lake Hollywood and hike Griffith Park.
Bars: The Simple Bar (best bar and the nicest bartenders in the entire city!), NoBar (seedy, cool, late night happy hour), NoMad LA (the ice cubes alone are worth it), Good Times at Davey Wayne’s (What Mark and Johnnie Houston do is amazing), Jackalope Bar (secret whiskey bar inside Seven Grand), Caña Rum Bar.
Restaurants: Cascabel, Sweetsalt, Culina, Verse LA, Preux and Proper, Front Yard, El Merkato.
Be a tourist. Get tickets (when we’re able) to Jimmy Kimmel Live. See live music. Go to a show at the Pantages. I love LA. Every culture is represented in the food, the art, the music, the film houses, and the terrain and it makes my heart happy. Other than that explore the mountains and beaches, but do ALL of this with your masks on and at a safe distance!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My road has been paved by dozens of people who saw something in me and were determined to make sure I didn’t waste my talent. From friends to colleagues to industry giants, I didn’t get here without someone extending a hand or taking a chance on me. I can’t choose a single person. My friend Collin Reno, who was also my agent at WME and is now my producer I’ve known since I was 15. He has believed in me since I was young and is the reason I’ve had so many opportunities. My manager Leyla Kader Dahm is passionate about my work and has hit the ground running to sell my projects. My friend Adrienne Brodeur, a brilliant writer and the previous EIC at Zoetrope: All-Story encouraged me to push myself, Amy Bloom was my first editor as a short fiction writer, and Francis Ford Coppola who told me writing was what I meant to do. Other than that, George Sand, the first female editor and a brilliant writer in the 1800s is someone I utterly adore and has been an inspiration. As has Anäis Nin who broke a million rules as a woman in the 1930s. In present time, I’d have to say I’m inspired by writers and showrunners like Tanya Saracho, Shonda Rhimes, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Those women are baddasses playing by their own rules. That’s the path I am on. Making my own rules, writing stories and films and TV series’ that mean something to me. Thankfully they mean something to readers as well. Lastly, the LA LGBT Center has been my other family. I am on the leadership council of the Resistance Squad and the people I work with are pure love. Joey Hernández and Jessica Parral are smart, passionate people who inspire all of us to implement change, be responsible activists, and continue to fight for gender equality and compassionate legislation.
Other: https://www.atodmagazine.com http://www.facebook.com/atasteofdawnATOD
Image Credit on Mary Effen Sunshine Prods. Photo: Matthew Andris Others are Dawn Garcia