I started out at Procter & Gamble marketing panty liners, so basically selling women insecurity. I thought there must be more to life than this. Then I was on set for a Dr. Scholl's commercial, and I asked one of the execs, 'How do you get a job behind the camera?' and he said, 'Film school.' So I quit and applied to NYU.
In an industry that's uncertain and when you're in a lot of situations that are anxiety-causing, to have someone there who has your back unconditionally and cares for you and the material and would give anything to make sure everything is OK, makes you feel so much better. It gives you a sense of security as an artist.
Contemporarily, we struggle with people worried about representation sometimes. It's a burden, as artists, that we take on that limits the work. It limits the characters people play. It limits the roles they want to do.
My first job was at Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati, my second job was at a pharmaceutical company in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. My third job was at Palmolive. And I realized, three jobs in three years, maybe it wasn't the job. It had to be me.
I definitely felt the desire to, like - I definitely knew there was an elsewhere. I definitely knew that, like, if I were going to be free, I needed to be away from, kind of, like, Nashville and kind of get out of the South and get out of the country.
There's a line that runs between everyone and their ancestors, and you cannot sever that. Maybe disassociate from those ideas but not how you are connected to them. But, you can realise how you've benefited and change how you raise your kids.
I'm not a writer that writes every day. I just kind of have ideas. I jot them down when I have them, and when I have enough, I just start. And for me, I start more around noon, and I'm all about feeling. Once there's a theme, I can't not write.
I just want to tell stories that are meaningful and have inspiration to them; people can watch it and take away something, or maybe they'll just think about themselves differently or think about the world differently. I just want to create characters that live on.
For me, Sundance always felt big. It's not the only way to make your way, but for me, it was definitely that critical link between struggling artist, kind of working on my own, to actually working professionally and being connected and being seen.
The only advice I can give is to surround yourself with people who are friends and people who believe in you and your material and who are going to help you take it to the next level. It doesn't mean you don't listen to criticism, but you listen to it and edit it, and you figure out what you can take.
When I first started going out to lesbian clubs, I felt a very binary recreation of hetero culture. There are butches and femmes, and I felt like I was neither of those things. I'm in a turtleneck and jeans and just learning to be comfortable in that space. I realized I don't have to be a certain way.
If I can go three grandmothers back and find a slave, that means someone else can go three grandmothers back and find a slave owner. When you interrogate your histories, it forces you to rethink who you are and where you are.
I had this thing where I only wanted to work on original material, no adaptations, and obviously, that changed. I really wanted to have the resources and have the space and the time to tell stories that I've really cared about. I've kind of changed my approach, but I've gotten to do that, to tell stories that I really care about.