20Q with Tawnya Bhattacharya
20 QUESTIONS with TAWNYA BHATTACHARYA
Twenty things you (probably) didn’t know about The Night Shift writer/co-producer and Script Anatomy founder, Tawnya Bhattacharya
1. My first job was… Working at a local drug store at 16. I ended up quitting when the boss, who was a complete prick, told me to apologize to someone for something I said. I can’t recall what it was but I do remember being shocked because it really innocuous and I had a good relationship with the woman and I knew she knew where I was coming from so… it must have been a misunderstanding. I tried to explain what I meant to him and he just got very nasty and aggressive and basically told me to go apologize or get fired. I was mortified and embarrassed, but I went to the woman and apologized and was like, “I’m so sorry if this upset or offended you. I didn’t mean it in that way…” The woman looked at me like I was crazy and said “Oh, I know. I didn’t even take it that way. That’s just Scott…” I honestly don’t know exactly what happened next… I must have had to go report back or something. I remember there being a back and forth and that I was pretty offended and turned off that a grown 40-year old man was displaying such hostility and aggression toward me, a young girl. So I tapped out. I quit. And I’m sure I let him know why because I think he seemed pretty shocked. I was always “spirited.” I’ve always stuck up for myself, and the underdog. Somebody’s gotta do it.
2. If I wasn’t a writer, I would likely be… In development somewhere. Ideally HBO or Showtime. Either that or flipping houses.
3. I collect… Nothing. I’m so not a packrat. My mom collects crap though, by the truckload, which is probably why I don’t.
4. My favorite word is… YES. Things happen when you say yes. Sometimes even good things.
5. I’m a big fan of… Woody Allen. David Chase. Matt Weiner. Vince Gilligan. Although a new addition is Brit Marling. Obsessed. She’s a super smart, talented and beautiful actress, writer, director and producer. A quadruple threat, and she can probably sing, too. If you haven’t seen her film “Another Earth” you must.
6. The single best piece of (writing related) advice I have ever gotten… I had a pivotal moment when I was in India in 2009. I moved there with my husband for his work, but I was very unhappy with where my life was. I wanted a career in Hollywood and I was on the other side of the planet in Delhi. So I was at a café one day, with basically the one friend I had – a whiskey importer who looked like the Indian Joe Pesci called Sandeep. And I broke down. We were talking about what I wanted to do and he simply asked, “What actions are you taking to make that happen?” It really struck me. It was like an epiphany. Because I realized that most of India, because of caste and poverty, has very little choice in life. To change their destiny is nearly impossible. But I could take action, like Sandeep said. We really are so fortunate here that we have some say in our lives. If you have that chance, you can’t waste it.
7. I have always wanted to… write a movie that gets made and run our own critically acclaimed, hit TV show.
8. The best thing I have ever read, (but did not write) is… Where to start? For movies, “Fatal Attraction,” “Another Earth”, “Happy Accidents,” “Birdman,” “All About Eve,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Red Violin” and dozens of Woody Allen films. Also “Wicked” the novel and musical. And as for TV, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under (even though I wasn’t a writer then), Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Americans… That list goes on, too!
9. People often tell me that I… have a criminal mind. (I do). And that they don’t know how I do it (run Script Anatomy and write on a TV show at the same time).
10. I really think that my best work (published or not) is… I haven’t written it yet. And I imagine I will always feel that way.
11. I find inspiration in… research. It fuels me and sparks ideas.
12. The best thing about being a professional writer is… Hands down, seeing your work produced. It’s not one of the many scripts collecting dust on your shelf – it exists!
13. I spend way too much time… Obsessing about shit that probably won’t matter in a week.
14. The funniest person in my cell phone is… Robbie Laughlin.
15. It really bothers me when… I don’t listen to my gut instinct and then realize I should have.
16. The worst thing about being a professional writer is… My current commute from Highland Park to the office at the Sony Building off Howard Hughes Parkway.
17. One mistake that most aspiring writers make is… Thinking their work is ready to go out before it is. You only get one chance to make an excellent first impression.
18. If I knew the apocalypse was coming in 24 hours, I’d… Rent a downtown LA penthouse in a tall building with a panoramic view. I’d be with my husband, dogs, friends and other loved ones and we’d have a party with the finest foods and champagnes and a string quartet too. We’d go down together like on the Titanic (movie), with some love and humanity. And the view would be amazing.
19. The three websites I visit most often are… Embarrassing but: Deadline, Amazon and Nordstrom.
20. You’d be surprised to know that I… On top of being Caucasian and American-Indian, I am half Mexican. Something I found out later in life…