Friday, July 25, 2014
When Terrell Lawrence packed up all of his belongings in 2006 after graduating from the University of South Carolina and drove to Los Angeles, he had no idea what would happen.
Like so many, he was in the pursuit of a dream. His was to become a television show screenwriter.
This month that dream came true.
The 31-year-old Georgetown native began working as a writer for the new TBS comedy “Your Family or Mine” on July 14.
It wasn’t without hard work and perseverance, though.
“I took a writing class at USC and I just fell in love with it, and I was like ‘man, this is what I want to do!’ A year after that I graduated and I said, ‘well, I’m going to go to L.A.’ I didn’t know anybody out there, I didn’t have a job set up, I was terrified out of my mind.”
“He said, ‘Mom, I just have to go, this is what I want to do.’ And I was so scared, but I thank God he went. I’m so proud of him,” said his mother, Lula Lawrence.
Three months after the move, Lawrence found himself in the City of Angels interning and doing production work, which led to a full-time job as an accountant for ICM Partners, a talent agency.
“I was doing that and going to classes, seminars, reading up on anything I could just to get better at the whole writing thing,” he said.
His accounting job and a mutual friendship helped Lawrence meet with a TV writer for coffee, who asked him for some of his work.
“He asked if there was a script I could send him, and a year before I did a ‘Big Bang Theory’ script that went into a film festival in Texas. So I gave it to him and he said he wouldn’t read it but if I was comfortable with it he would send the script to his agent. So he did that.”
His agent liked it and sent it to another talent agent, who “loved it” and asked is the young screenwriter had an original pilot script.
“Luckily I did, so I sent it. A couple of weeks later I signed papers as a client for the agency I was working [as an accountant] for.”
A work associate referred Lawrence to “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence, who didn’t have an opening for a writer but liked his work and instead referred the budding writer to TV producer Greg Malins.
Malins hired Lawrence and now he works writing for the upcoming TBS series “Your Family or Mine,” which is being adapted from an Israeli television series.
“Last week we were looking to see ‘ok, what did they [in the Israeli show] do? What can we still use from that?’ We were picking and choosing, breaking out episodes. There’s nine of us in the room, including our boss, and we sit around and come up with ideas, things that we think are funny. It’s a really fun atmosphere,” Lawrence said.
Is this his dream job?
“Oh, absolutely. This is what brought me over here [to L.A.]. I wanted to be a TV writer. I wanted to say I gave it a try.”
And he wants to pass that message on to other Georgetown kids.
“I guess when we were in the South, I didn’t really know that this was an option. I did know that I always loved reading and writing, and I loved watching TV, more than most people, but I just never realized it was something I could actually do.”
Lawrence hopes to one day come back and teach kids from his hometown about the opportunities they have.
“I do want to go back and maybe talk to a high school and let them know it’s an option. I would just say one of the biggest tips I have is to really just never give up.
“It can take so long, sometimes you get so down-trodden on your journey to your destination, not a thing is happening, and then all of a sudden you meet the right people, persevere and it happens. It’s possible.
“Secondly, it does take a lot of hard work, but it can be done. Just hone your craft. Compete with yourself, learn what you can, get better at it, and just do you. Go at your own pace and never try to compare yourself to anyone else.”
His final word of advice: “Just go after your biggest dreams. Whatever that dream is, just please go after it and don’t give up on it. If it happened for me, it can happen to anyone else, there’s nothing so special about me, I’m just an ordinary guy.”