I was having coffee with a producer a while ago and as I was going through the various projects I was working on (including FOR IZZY), the producer mentioned that all my projects centered around women, which was something I didn’t realize until it was pointed out to me.

There’s a grieving widow who recreates her deceased family as imaginary friends; a Chinese science fiction story centered around a Chinese researcher searching for her ancestry in the ruins of America, and a Blackfoot girl seeking revenge for her family in a Western told from the perspective of Native Americans.

It certainly didn’t start out that way. Most of the scripts and ideas I’ve had up until maybe a few years ago were for the most part driven by male characters. Even my first feature YES, AND… was a coming of age romantic comedy from the perspective of a man.

So what changed? I think a bit part of it was simply a creative one. In writing about central characters who are on the surface very much unlike me, it actually frees me up to be even more honest. I am given full permission to seed my own fears, neuroses, vulnerabilities and desires into characters who on the surface are very different than me – being able to fully play and explore in a safe place because the people I am writing about aren’t straight Asian males like myself. It forces me to be specific in a way that is actually harder to do if one writes about a character who is similar to one’s self, since there are blind spots one takes for granted that cannot be done if you’re having to write about someone who is on the surface has “character facts” that are very different than you (gender, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, etc).

I’ve learned that it’s not about “writing what you know” but writing about what you want to know.