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This story first appeared in the Oct. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
When I got word that Awkward was being picked up to series, my first reaction was to cry. Throughout my career, everyone has always said, “There is no crying in show business.” It’s a sign of weakness. If you have to cry, do it in private. In your car. In the shower. Anywhere but out in the open. Yet I cry. All. The. Time. Sometimes I cry just talking about crying. I’m not even kidding. And I would contend that my lack of “fear to tear” is my greatest strength — not a weakness. As I look back at my trail of tears, I’ve come to appreciate that the tears I’ve shed have become the touchstones — or watermarks, if you will — of my journey as a newbie showrunner.
First there were the tears of dread realizing that I could no longer just be an “artist” anymore. I had to be a producer, financially responsible to my network and the people who trust me with their livelihoods. Despite my lack of politics, I’ve had to become the mayor of my show village. Because any good showrunner knows that it takes a village to make a great show. Thankfully, my village carries a constant supply of Kleenex. Because they care deeply about me and through my raw displays of emotion, they know I care deeply about them. In my leadership position, I’ve learned that I have to make tough decisions that affect great people. It sucks to no longer be part of the contingent that complains about the boss. Now I am the boss who people complain about. Or the weirdo that complains about myself. Fact — I’ve done it. And it usually involves a tear or two.
My display of waterworks also involves the making and breaking of story. Sometimes the tears are of laughter when hearing a funny idea, or of heartache explaining a moment that hits close to home, or realizing the words on the page aren’t working and I have to rewrite them. Again. And again. Or watching a performance on set that is so hysterical or moving that a round of applause will not suffice to show appreciation. Rather, it can only be expressed via a mascara-moving mass of messiness on one’s face.
Finally come the tears of gratitude. Those are the best to share. And they don’t just come when seeing great ratings or reading a once-in-a-lifetime New York Times review. They come from realizing that I am living my dream and that by doing so, I’ve enabled other people to live theirs. With that thought, I find myself once again crying. I have the best job in the business, and I don’t really care if anyone calls me a “crybaby.” I am. — Lauren Iungerich
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