About Me

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Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
I completed the 2016 Summer Program in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. I received a BS Degree in Radio/TV from ASU and a MA Degree in Technical and Expository Writing from UALR. As a Cancer Survivor and a Widow, I hope I can help others through my Blog http://leslieinlittlerock.blogspot.com/ Twitter @leslieinlr and Instagram @leslieinlittlerock accounts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How did you get here?

First Day Of School!
University of Southern California - June 27, 2016

At the end of May 2015, I saw a new physician as part of a required medical exam. After I shook his hand, introduced myself and sat down, he sat down as well, pulled out a notebook, looked at me and asked, "How did you get here?"  I paused, thought a minute, and then answered, "Well, I filled out a form in the spring, then I received a phone call and a letter last week that said to come here today." The doctor shook his head, leaned forward in his chair and said, "No, I meant how did you get here - to this appointment? Did you drive yourself or take the bus?"

For years, I have asked myself that same question. "How did you get here?" After my cancer diagnosis in 2000, after my husband and I both suffered job layoffs, and then again after my husband died suddenly of an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism on May 10, 2012, leaving me as a 50-year-old widow with two teenage daughters.

The past four years have brought a lot of changes in my life. I've seen my oldest daughter graduate from college and move to Boston as a young professional. My youngest daughter graduated from high school and is now starting her second year at an out-of-state university. Both girls have grown into kind and caring young women and I am so proud of each of them.

After taking early retirement last year due to medical issues, I continue to blog and also volunteer for "Shop My Closet", a resale store that supports widows and orphans in Kenya and also assist local charities. I recently sold my house in West Little Rock. The place I've called home for the past 12 years. It was a hard decision but one that I needed to make for financial reasons. A wonderful young family purchased my house and I am happy that they are now making it their home.

I moved into my parent's house, along with my 12-year-old dog, Oreo and 7-year-old cat, Lilly. I also did a lot of research online about writing programs, something I have always been interested in. After receiving a BS Degree in Radio/Television from Arkansas State University, I worked in Public Relations and Advertising for a couple of years before pursuing a career in Technical Writing. I've always been fascinated by television shows and movies. Watching hundreds of movies through the years, reading scripts and writing movie and television reviews became a favorite hobby.

Which leads me to the title of this blog entry - "How did you get here?" I just returned from spending six weeks in Los Angeles attending the summer program at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

I viewed this opportunity as my Eat Pray Love or Under The Tuscan Sun moment (without the hunky love interest)! So on Monday, June 13, I left Little Rock and started my drive alone to California in my red Jeep.

Here are some of the highlights of the past nine weeks of my life

  • Spending the weekend of June 17-19 attending "Camp Widow" at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, meeting others from the widowed community from all over the world.

Beautiful San Diego!

  • Walking past actor Nathon Fillion in Chatsworth, California.

Framed poster of Stana Katic & Nathan Fillion of Castle hanging in the School of Cinematic Arts Building at the University of Southern California.

  •  Meeting many new friends in my two SCA classes - The Writers Room: Sitcom Writing and TV/Film Industry - that ran from June 27-August 5.
Volunteering at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) Awards Ceremony, Los Angeles

  •  Talking on the phone to Michael Hitchcock, Co-Executive Producer and Writer for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and former Co-Executive Producer and Writer on Glee. Through my TV/Film Industry class, I was required to schedule a General Informational Meeting with someone in the industry who we admired or looked up to. With the help of my instructor, Eve Light Honthaner, I called the Production Office of the show and also sent Mr. Hitchcock an email requesting a 15 minute meeting. He later emailed me back and scheduled a phone interview for the following morning. The next day he called me at the scheduled time and I asked him to describe a typical day of working on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and what advice he would give an aspiring writer. He told me all about the writing process of a television situation comedy, including how a Writers Room works, and having to get approval from the Executive Producers and the Network to finalize each hour episode of the musical comedy. He said that he started out as a typist after obtaining a Master of Fine Arts degree from U.C.L.A.'s film school. I was also delighted that I was speaking in person to Dalton Rumba, Show Choir Director for the Haverbrook School for the Deaf from Glee!

    Writer/Producer/Actor Michael Hitchcock

  • Going to the 4th of July fireworks display at the Rose Bowl with my youngest daughter, Sara.

July 4, 2016

  • Meeting Director/Actor John Famenesh-Bocca and Producer/Actress Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing from Dallas and Mary Alice Young from Desperate Housewives!) at the July 30th Film Festival of NewFilmMakers Los Angeles. I also watched four different short films at this event and attended a Q & A at the end of the screenings with the filmmakers.

Far left - Director John Famanesh-Bocca and Producer Brenda Strong of I Did Not Forget You.

Ulu (Poland), Aayushi (India), & Leslie (Arkansas)

  •  Visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Statue in front of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

I had a great time during my stay in California, learned so much during both my Cinematic Arts classes, experienced being involved in several different television productions, made amazing new friends and also reconnected with wonderful old friends. In the past, I've been yelled at by former co-workers and judged by former in-laws, so it was so refreshing to be appreciated for just being me. For not having people roll their eyes at me because they think I'm stupid, but to have someone tell me I am an inspiration to them.

School of Cinematic Arts Building at the University of Southern California - August 8, 2016