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As two stars who have built careers out of their writing talents, Seth Rogen and Lauren Graham took part in supporting the next generation of writers at “Lights, Camera, WriteGirl!” on Saturday night.
The Los Angeles event was put on by WriteGirl, a nonprofit which mentors and encourages creativity for aspiring young female writers, and featured scenes written by young girls in the program, acted out by Rogen, Wayne Brady, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Keiko Agena, Stephanie Katherine Grant and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, with Graham as the show’s host. Established female TV and film writers, including Clare Sera (Smallfoot, Blended), Lauren Miller Rogen (Like Father), Josann McGibbon (Descendants) and Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right), also gave feedback to the girls on their projects.
Seth Rogen said the cause was particularly personal to him, as he “started writing when I was 13 years old; I still write with the person [partner Evan Goldberg] I started writing with then. I was a writer on a TV show when I was 18, so I personally believe that young people of any age, if encouraged, can really create good work. I think with young women especially, obviously with the way our world works, the more support and help, the better.”
The star, who acted in seven of the 14 scenes performed at the show, told The Hollywood Reporter that he was very impressed with the work the young writers — ranging from 13 to 18 years old — had created.
“They were really well written and some of the funny ones were really, really, genuinely funny, and the dramatic ones were truly emotional,” Rogen said. “There’s a lot of raw emotion in that, and as someone who reads writing all day, it’s hard to tap into that stuff, and they really did in a way that affected people, which isn’t easy.”
Graham, who has authored three books, not only joined the organization to emcee the event, but has also been a mentor in the WriteGirl program for the last year. The actress said she was inspired to volunteer by her former Gilmore Girls co-star Agena, and because writing has taken on an increasingly large part of her life.
“Writing has become something that is important to me and something that I work hard at, but it took me a while to find the confidence to do it,” she told THR. “My hope is to give that to a girl at a younger age, because no matter if I had books published or not, the practice of it, the act of it, really gives me so much. It was just on a simple level like, ‘What’s something I can impart to a younger person? I could say it doesn’t matter if it never leaves your notebook, just the practice of doing this will give you such a strong sense of yourself.'”
Graham added that the mentorship has been just as beneficial to her, because in teaching a young writer about writing a scene or a poem, “it’s very freeing.”
She added, “And as creative people, it’s always a battle between art and commerce and the business side and your vulnerable artist side, so this is really a return to the fun of it. It’s a good reminder.”
Inside the show, held at Hollywood’s Linwood Dunn Theater, Graham opened the evening with a brief speech, joking that in joining the organization, “I have discovered in my life that I’m kind of in recovery from eighth grade endlessly, like that’s my constant state. I feel the exact same way as I did then, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, these people are actually in eighth grade, what a wonderful mentorship.’ I don’t know who will be helping who.” The actress also oversaw a raffle and silent auction to raise money for the group, admitting that being an auctioneer was the fulfillment of a lifelong goal.
The stars performed the 14 scenes, which covered topics ranging from relationships and insecurities to abuse and the recent college admissions scandal. Many of the writers were in the audience watching their pieces being performed and received a round of applause after each. One particular scene told the story of a young K-Pop star, which cast Rogen as a 20-year-old Korean lead.
As a clearly over-20 white man, Rogen joked with the audience, “Don’t ‘Scarlett Johansson’ me, I didn’t ask for this,” referencing the actress’ past of playing minorities. “They gave me the role, I didn’t jockey for it or anything.”
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