Next weekend NYC Life will debut pilot episodes of two new television comedies featuring stories by women, about women. After watching the two pilots, viewers will be able to vote for the show they’d like to green light for an additional four episodes.
Launched by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, Greenlight Her! is a groundbreaking women’s screenwriting contest featuring two scripts with female protagonists. Following a call last year seeking screenplays by, for, or about women, a group of industry leaders selected the two scripts out of more than 300 submissions. The two shows were produced last summer by diverse, women-led crews made up of students from the Feirstein School.
Patty Carey’s Half Life focuses on Patty, a working mother in Manhattan, trying to restart her career as a writer while juggling work as a location scout and raising her kids.
Robin Rose Singer’s Maturity centers on Kansas transplant Jessica Applegate’s first week of work at a Bronx senior housing facility filled with quirky residents.
An actor, writer, and filmmaker, Singer lives in Bushwick. Originally from Connecticut, she moved to New York City at 17 to attend NYU where she studied Spanish literature.
“I thought I was going to move to South America and be a translator or something like that,” she tells BKLYNER, “until I realized that there were already millions of people that grew up speaking fluent Spanish and English.” After graduation, Singer performed in a rock band for a few years, then started working as an actor and “fell in love with the film industry.”
Having only previously written for film, Singer says she “created this show from scratch, specifically for this opportunity.” A visit to her grandmother, Helene Lavigueur, inspired her script for Maturity.
“I visited her last winter after she suffered a minor stroke. I went back expecting to find her in a very bad way, but instead she was totally fine, full of energy, and talking nonstop…. I started to realize that she was much more multi-dimensional than I thought she was, and it made me sad to think that people her age aren’t always portrayed as full, funny, smart, and vibrant human beings. They are a main character’s grandmother, at best,” Singer says.
“There’s so much to be learned about living from people who understand life is short—both the ones who take it seriously and those that have a sense of humor about it,” she adds. Singer’s grandmother passed away a month before Maturity went into production. Singer has dedicated the show in Lavigueur’s memory.
Greenlight Her! is part of a five-part initiative announced by MOME in September 2016 targeting the underrepresentation of women in the film, television, and theater industries. The programs, which include a $5 million dollar women filmmakers fund, mark the first time a municipal agency has taken on gender inequity in these fields—a timely issue in light of the wave of sexual harassment scandals surfacing in the worlds of entertainment and media.
“This is a fantastic initiative, with a lot of wonderfully supportive, talented people behind it,” Singer says. “I’m pretty proud to live in a city that encourages diversity and recognizes the need to actively support it. We’re very lucky to live in a place that is leading the push for change.”
The two pilots will debut back-to-back on NYC Media on Friday, January 19 at 10:00pm and will be re-aired at the same time on Saturday, January 20. New Yorkers will be able to watch the two pilots on-demand on the site and vote for the pilot they want to win.
Learn more about Singer, Carey, and Greenlight Her! at nyc.gov/GreenlightHer. Voting begins January 19 and ends January 28 at midnight.