Whether you are familiar with Glen Mazzara’s work, or just know him as “that guy who has something to do with The Walking Dead,” you can’t deny his presence on stage as a speaker or how forthright he was with his advice. As an East West Players intern, I had the awesome opportunity to attend this event. Somewhat embarrassingly, I admit that I consider myself part of the group who is not familiar with Glen Mazzara, and have only generically heard of his work with The Walking Dead and Hawthorne, among others. I couldn’t have been the only one though! Or, considering the popularity of this AMC horror drama series, maybe I was the only one in a sea of admirers.
News of Glen Mazzara visiting East West Players spread quickly and attracted a pretty large crowd of both ACTS members and non-ACTS members. Even one of the writers, Sang Kim, joined us last night (big shout out for helping to arrange this!). With our Artistic Director Tim Dang facilitating the conversation, Glen openly talked about his job as executive producer and showrunner of The Walking Dead, as well as his beginnings with Nash Bridges and Crash. Tim and the audience posed specific questions about everything from diversity and sexism, to the issue of actors of color in casting and advice to actors and writers about moving forward.
It was refreshing to see how honest and uncensored Glen was in his responses. Some of my favorite highlights include:
On people of color:
-“Unfortunately, Hollywood is racist against everyone.”
-“I try to be authentic. When casting Crash, there was a Korean storyline and I wanted a Korean actor. Not Chinese, not Japanese. And people actually came up to me asking what’s the difference?”
-“When I hear that an actress is difficult, she’s not actually difficult. What that tells me is that she just happened to ask a question that male actors are allowed to ask, but females are not. Writers and directors listen to the suggestions and questions coming from a male. If a female asked the same things, they’d blow it off and question what’s wrong with her.”
-“Check out Miss Representation, it does a good job of showing the sexism that exists in the industry.”
On his style of writing:
-“I’m a gritty cop writer. That’s what I do. Someone told me I should try writing for Gilmore Girls and I was like no! It would be full of rape and mayhem and oh it would be so offensive. Yeah, no.”
On advice for writing scenes:
-“You know, characters are always written the same. The man is always kind of rugged, in his 30s, handsome, but looks younger than in his 30s. The woman is supposed to be smart, beautiful, has looks that can stop traffic, but she doesn’t know how hot she is. She’s supposed to be really strong. Women end up written as feminine men, really. We’re trying to say they’re strong women, but they end up being female men; it’s a strange trap. Just don’t even write that in the description of the character. If you want a smart, beautiful woman, write a scene where she is being smart and funny and beautiful. Write it in and show us!”
Contributed by EWP/LA County Arts Intern Joann Kweon