Despite her plans, writer Joanna Calo found herself navigating a job in television with motherhood. Editor's note: This essay was written before the writers' strike. I always wanted to make movies; I never wanted to have kids. When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, I watched movies obsessively and sat too close to the TV, as if I could dive in and be consumed. That was the dream. Then, when I was a junior in high school, we got news that they were shooting a movie in town — our town. The production built a carnival at the end of our main street for a big scene with Meryl Streep. At the time, I was more invested in potentially seeing Renée Zellweger — who I was besotted with from “Empire Records” (“Here's one for your perfect life. And your perfect body. And your perfect, perfect future!!”). Advertisement I left a keg party early one night with my best friend to watch them shoot a scene in front of the local movie theater. The image of Renée on a pay phone with fake rain and a [crane-like] condor lighting up the sky is burned in my brain as the beginning of everything. An internship on a TV show led to a long career as an assistant and falling in love with writing. I knew it would take all of me to get where I wanted to be — back on a set with the big lights in the sky. So there was no space for kids or domestic activities — a family wasn't in the cards. I was just going to move into the Warner Bros. lot like a Hollywood version of Basil E. Frankweiler. I was several years into being a real, guild card-carrying TV writer when I fell in love. And, for whatever reason — said love, biology, societal pressures, subconscious brainwashing, etcetera, I got married and had a baby. All of a sudden, the game had completely changed. I was navigating being a first-time parent, but I had absolutely no intention of giving up […]
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