INT. HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOM, ONTARIO, CANADA – DAY (EARLY 1990s)
CHRISTIE WILL ’99, one of a handful of girls at Trinity College School (a former all-male boarding school recently gone co-ed), sits in class, unfazed by the graphic banter of 15-year-old boys.
Hey, Christie, wanna smell something gross?
Christie keeps her head in her notebook.
Hey, Johnny, you mean other than what I have to endure sitting next to you every day?
(laughing and ooooh-ing)
Christie glances up from writing in her notebook and gives Johnny a subtle smirk.
(For four years, Christie’s sense of humor was cultivated in hallways ripe with immature jokes, male hormones and odd sounds and smells. Most young women her age would have been appalled. But Christie welcomed it, and it would serve her well.)
INT. THEATER IN DOWNTOWN
CHARLESTON, S.C. – NIGHT (LATE 1990s)
A CofC student double majoring in theatre and arts management, Christie is rehearsing for her role as Hedy LaRue in How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying. She loves acting, always has. Christie sits at a desk on stage and scribbles frantically as her cast mate playing J. PIERPONT FINCH delivers his line:
J. PIERPONT FINCH
What are you taking that down in?
Long hand. It’s safer. I make up for it when I type.
J. PIERPONT FINCH
Oh, you type fast?
Like a whiz. Twelve words a minute.
Christie exits the stage and goes behind the curtain, waiting for her next cue.
(She feels right at home, on this stage, delivering punchy one-liners. But she also loves being behind the scenes – writing and directing. She won a “best play” award in high school for directing. And now, serving as student head of the School of the Arts, she’s wrapping a documentary about CofC’s theatre students – this one about her graduating class.)
As she waits for her next cue, she can’t help but think about how she got here, and her mind wanders to a conversation she had just before rehearsal.
EXT. COFFEE SHOP, DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON, S.C. – AFTERNOON
Christie and her FRIEND, a fellow cast member, sit down at a table outside for a cup of coffee before heading to rehearsal.
So, how long have you been acting?
For as long as I can remember.
I think actors tend to have weird childhoods, you know?
Christie looks up from her cup.
My parents passed when I was young, and that sort of put me in a world where I became a storyteller – always escaping into my stories.
(Christie’s father died when she was 10 years old; her mother died when she was 14.)
What about you?
BACK TO PRESENT
Christie hears her cue and walks back on stage with a beaming smile, ready to deliver her next line.
(She will go on to deliver that “next line” in countless productions up and down the East Coast and eventually move out West to try her hand at modeling and acting, even landing the featured role in Aerosmith’s “Jaded” music video. After returning to live performance one more time to open the Beaumont Playhouse – Vancouver’s first avant-garde black box theatre – Christie settles in Hollywood – only now, she’s behind the scenes. She lands a job as a director’s assistant to A-lister Peter Berg. Then she works side by side with Paula Abdul, as her head of development. Later, we’ll find her having lunch with the late Patrick Swayze, chatting about how they can collaborate together on his new passion film. Christie’s cutting her teeth in an industry known to devour its young.)
CHRISTIE’S CAREER MONTAGE
(Christie is a “fresh” new writer, director and producer in Hollywood. Her specialty is comedy – the offbeat, potty-mouthed kind that usually contains some sort of social commentary about Hollywood.)
MUSIC begins, and the career sequence starts with Christie drafting her first script, “Slightly Single in L.A.,” a romantic comedy about dating in La-La Land. …
Cut to Christie operating a DVX camera and capturing Tim Curry and Carmen Electra on the set of a movie she is associate producing. …
Next, Christie on another movie set (she’s now a producer), where she’s rehearsing lines with Norm McDonald and Chazz Palminteri. …
Christie then appears on another set, now directing a stellar ensemble cast: Chris Kattan, Lacey Chabert, Vivica Fox, Jenna Dewan, Mircea Monroe and Haylie Duff. …
Next, Christie is seen in a meeting as producers negotiate with Lionsgate Home Entertainment to distribute her next film, Boy Toy, about a male underwear model turned escort who falls in love with one of his client’s daughters. …
Christie is then on her cell phone as she discusses her next movie while also paying for her wedding dress (which she will wear the following week). …
End around Christmas 2011, with Christie sitting in her living room with her husband and their new baby, tuning into ION Television to watch her next film, A Holiday Heist, which she wrote and directed. …
INT. CHRISTIE’S HOME, VANCOUVER, CANADA – 7 A.M. (2012)
Christie is sitting on the couch with her daughter, AMELIE (named after Christie’s favorite foreign film). She’s talking on the phone to a REPORTER interviewing her about her life and career.
(cooing in the background)
Somebody wise once told me to write what you know, especially with comedy. You have to have your eyes open to the world, friends, situations – you just have to be able to see it.
Can you give me an example?
So, I’m writing this script now called “Finding Mr. Right,” and I’ve definitely found inspiration from my husband’s grandmother. She’s 90 and she totally dates. She gets together with guys still, and her stories are just hilarious.
There’s also a lot of my daughter in this one – being a mom, breastfeeding. Some new-mom funnies.
Will you stick with comedy? Is that your sweet spot?
I’m actually working on my first full-length dark script, “The Rise and Fall of an American Actress.” It’s based on what I’m seeing right now in Hollywood, from Demi Moore to Lindsay Lohan to Brittany Murphy. I haven’t finished it because it’s so dark, and I can’t quite figure out what it is – but it’s tragic, about women striving for something.
So, where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Down the road, I’ll keep doing comedies. Right now, I’m definitely becoming a stronger writer with every script. And the next one I direct, I’ll be a stronger director.
And I imagine “The Rise and Fall of an American Actress” will be a poignant turning point in my career.
I have two actresses that want to do that movie. And I’ve got another project, “Bored Rich,” that is financed and in active official development, and then “Finding Mr. Right.” All of that, plus being a new mom … I’m in a happy place.
– Abi Nicholas ’07
Photos by Dave Hamilton