By Sarah Chaisson-Warner
LeLe Park is nothing short of extraordinary. LeLe, who was a finalist in the Shore Scripts 2019 TV pilot contest, entered the world of screenwriting in 2018 with big ideas and a complicated schedule. The mother of two young children, LeLe, who now lives in Chicago, spent most of her nights writing after her children went to bed, often into the early hours of the morning, to create her first TV series The Bliss Killer.
Since placing in our competition, LeLe’s scripts have gone on to place in numerous other competitions and she has recently been invited to join Warner Bros. Discovery’s 150 program.
From Diaries to Features
LeLe has always loved writing and felt an affinity towards the entertainment industry from a young age. Her first memory of writing was as a child in a lock-and-key diary, finding in it her first real opportunity to build creative worlds. “I would write in a diary when I was a kid,” she said. “Even though you’re writing down your experiences and your feelings, so much of what you perceive as a child is fictional.” She was also an award-winning poet in high school, recognized by various competitions and her school’s honors program. “Poetry and early journal writing was an accelerator to writing dialogue and emotion – it showed for me that writing could be an actual path.”
But she didn’t think about making the leap to becoming a professional screenwriter until 2018. “I wanted to try my hand in an industry that I had been tethered to since I was so small, it felt like a journey and I wanted to be a part of it, rather than just watch it,” she said.
“Not being from this country, the television wasn’t just entertainment, it was a piece of education. I would often turn to tv and film when I needed to feel seen or heard or relate…but at the time, I was coming from a marriage that wasn’t so wonderful, and at that moment, when I needed it, television let me down – I felt unseen and unheard.”
What she saw on television no longer mirrored her life or her wants and needs – she didn’t see women with the ability or opportunity to feel deep rage.
“Someone had to kidnap our daughter, or our fiancé had to leave us at the altar. We couldn’t just be in our feelings and be upset. It had to be something wild, or extraordinary. But with men it is very different. I wasn’t feeling seen, so I wrote The Bliss Killer.”
LeLe describes the series as real-life male violence from the news, repurposed into the hands of a female-led story. “I reclaimed real-life male violence.”
After writing The Bliss Killer, LeLe met with several people in the industry, mostly men, who read it, and the response and feedback were relatively unanimous – great script, but the character needed to be male.
Women, they reasoned, need to be likable. “That came up three or four times in a row,” she said. “I was not prepared to hear that. I thought because of where we were in life, my script would be considered exciting and relished, but it wasn’t.” While LeLe wholly believes in the collaborative nature surrounding movie-making, and the need to work with solid feedback, she wasn’t willing to change her protagonist.
“It defeated the purpose and the intent of it. We’ve seen it a million times, we’ve seen men be angry and be in control of their own destiny. We haven’t seen that in the hands of a woman, so I wasn’t about to change that. Changing the gender because she wasn’t likable enough made me dig in harder.”
The Shore Scripts Experience
After these disappointing meetings, a friend suggested that she try the competition circuit as a strategy for getting the attention of producers and agents.