We had the good fortune of connecting with Grace Abbate and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Grace, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
I once was told by someone (that shall remain nameless) to listen to my brain over my heart. And that’s the biggest slice of bullshit I’ve ever been served. Fortunately, I didn’t do that, because I couldn’t. My heart was always my propeller, the thing that drove me to take action toward my goals. If I didn’t feel the passion, why would I listen to my brain telling me to do something I wasn’t sure I felt compelled to do? I was learning how to find the balance between my brain and heart, and that’s the sweet spot. Both are crucial. But, they should be working simultaneously alongside each other, not separated.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a screenwriter who indulges best in mixing genres, typically in the drama, dark comedy, psychological thriller, or horror. Being a genre writer wasn’t something that appealed to me. I find following the trajectory of one genre to be limiting, and frankly, a bit boring, personally. I’ll usually assign one genre to take precedence, and use that blueprint to create the structure of the film or pilot. I’d say that, along with my heavy character and voice based stories, set me apart. My mentors have certainly helped guide me get to where I am today, and hell no, it wasn’t easy. I’ll always be growing and learning.
Some lessons I learned along the way, is there is no right or wrong, there just is. Especially in a creative outlet, it took me a long while to understand my own process, and through that I had to imitate a lot of other writers’ processes to discover what worked for me or what didn’t. If I had to say anything, I’d want the world to know that there is no fucking rule book. Find what suits you and do it. Unconventional is okay. Think for yourself.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
To no one’s surprise, it would be a week full of tourist-y stops. Obviously, I’d take them to Hollywood blvd, the Santa Monica Pier, probably to Malibu/ the pacific coast highway. Definitely would have to spend a night out at The Rabbit Hole bar, that place is awesome. If this person liked to hike as much as I do, I’d take them to visit Rocky Peak in Simi Valley, the view up there is amazing. We could stop by The Last Bookstore, assuming this person likes to read, then go stuff our faces with grade A Italian food at Buon Gusto. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost, I’ll be thanking my Mom for the rest of my life. She’s the only person who believed in me when I began my journey in film. I started with acting. While everyone else laughed and rolled their eyes, she drove me all around town, taking me to auditions, getting me headshots, paying hundreds of dollars for my acting classes and so on. Eventually down the line, I decided I wanted to move to Los Angeles and go to film school (where writing became my better suited niche.) If it wasn’t for her whispering me words of hope, being selfless enough to let me go, and belief that I would succeed in my pursuits, I wouldn’t be here now, or even have gotten the chance to scratch the surface of my potential. So, thank you forever, Mom. I love you.
As for my mentors, a huge thank you to Anthony Young for hiring me to write in my junior year of college, up until now. He’s been so patient and has molded me into a better, more confident writer and human being. Also, another big thank you to my former teacher in college, now writing partner, Dirk Blackman. Thank you so much for taking a chance on me. Thank you for the opportunity to learn alongside you, and to be able to write with you. It’s an absolute honor and I’ll always be grateful.
Artist credit for the collage photo: Camila Noriega.