As many of you know, I’ve been working for Lee Aronsohn and Jason Kyle since January and it has been an exciting ride! Thanks to this job, I not only learned a ton of things about tv writing , but I also had the chance to know a bunch of amazing people and one of them being actress and writer Cathy Yonek! Here’s her interview:
1) Tell us a bit about yourself: your background, where you grew- up,
and how it influenced your art.
I grew up in California, Pennsylvania. We had one street light. Many of the
stories that I write feature characters that yearn to leave. It’s a Universal
feeling; the grass is always greener somewhere else. I was a theatre kid.
All we had in my town was a tiny library that did plays occasionally and our
church, where I orchestrated a bible show and, of course, the high school
with the annual show!
One such story that I told about my love of being an actress in a small town
was part of stand-up event produced by The Alliance of Women Directors.
A Moth storytelling event. My story was the inspiration for a short film, LA
HUSTLE. It’s my first story by credit. You can learn more about that here:
2) When did you decide to become an actress, and why?
I started writing when I was ten years old and would write my own skits and
beg my mom to take me to competitions with “talent” shows. That was
followed by a scholarship to The Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the
Arts Summer Program. After that I studied in London for a semester. My
father was a writer, a poet as well. He died when I was ten. I am certain his
artistic flair is at least a part of the reason I am a writer. He played music
constantly in our house growing up and encouraged my sisters and I to
sing, and he would tape record us when we were very young, like two and
three years old. He also had many great books, like The Catcher In The
Rye and The Complete Works of Shakepeare, laying around the house,
both of which I have. I also have a poem he wrote to my mom about her
when they first met. My mom was very creative as well. She was a dress
designer; she hand beaded things constantly with crystals, pearls, and
laces. She painted, arranged flowers, she loved home decorating. I had
creativity all around me.
3) You’re also an accomplished writer: does this clash with being an
actress sometimes? Does it get in the way (for instance, do you feel like
rewriting your lines from time to time?) or does it help you being a better
Great question Lou! Theatre training is wonderful, and in my opinion, there
is no substitue for it. You are taught to rationalize a character’s desires and
actions rather than judge them, and for a writer, that has been helpful.
I recall my days in college where we had to do character journals, and I
would spend hours on that exercise and loved it. If you are fortunate
enough to be able to write your roles as I have done with my last two
projects, AVERAGE MOM and HOUSEBROKEN, then it works out fine.
4) What challenges do you most commonly face as a writer? As an actor?
Are you planning to write more characters for yourself in the near future?
Challenges are about what project to focus on now! Since writers draw
from life experience, I will continue to write my own roles. I also love
collaborating and have written short film for other actors as well as
customized monologues. Being an actor helps you in all regards of being a
writer, especially pitching which I absolutely love!
5) Is there an actor/actress you look up to/was your role model when you
This is going to be a long answer! I was inspired by the teachings
of Stella Adler and trained with her in New York City. That was exciting. To
do scene study with a legend! I relate so much to Barry and his acting class
on the show. Great TV show by the way! The pilot episode is fantastic.
Rocky was unforgettable to me. Learning Sylvestor Stallone’s success
story as a young person is certainly ingrained into my psyche. It was a big
part of my growing up, as was Flashdance, Fame and A Chorus Line on
Broadway! My favorite shows were the Chevy Chase Vacation Movies and
The Breakfast Club, anything John Hughes. I love John Candy. He’s so
talented and likeable. I like likeble, most people do! I also really like funny
women, Melissa McCarthy is a favorite of mine. Drew Barrymore is an
inspiration. I admire her for the many hats she wears, actress, producer, TV
Talk show host. The same for Reese Witherspoon. Book clubs, production
companies, actress and add being a mom to both of these women. I am
inspired by Family as much as by art. Elizabeth Moss in Handmaid’s Tale is
brilliant, and so is showrunner Bruce Miller and we have to give credit to
Margaret Atwood that wrote the novel, the IP on which the show is based.
For male leads, I am a Jason Bateman fan. I can watch anything that he is
in. I love him in Ozark and I think Julia Garner is fantastic in that series as
well. I also love Will Farrell, Jim Carrey, Bill Hader, Jason Sudekis. Liam
Neesom is beyond my Hero in Taken. I have to mention Bryan Cranston in
Breaking Bad. Brilliant.
Just like me, Cathy works for Lee Aronsohn and Jason Kyle at the Creators Writing Room, a company helping writers in general and screenwriters in particular getting better at what they do! To know more, simply click on the logo below: