“Beware the Zoom room!” And other tips for newbies of all ages, sizes, shapes, genders, talents, ambitions, and other you-name-its!
by Kyle Paoletta
The streaming business is booming. But the industry’s working stiffs say their lives are only getting more precarious.
Edgar Momplaisir’s first glimpse of Hollywood success came early. Having dropped out of college in 2014 and moved to Southern California to chase the dream of writing for television, Momplaisir was named to a house team at the Upright Citizens Brigade, the improv theater that serves as a proving ground for aspiring comedy writers and performers. With a regular opportunity to showcase his talents, Momplaisir thought, “Holy shit, I made it.”
That impression didn’t last. “You don’t make a dime!” he told me. Even the agent who took him on after his first UCB show couldn’t get him a paying gig. “Six months later, it’s like, man, I’m as broke as I’ve ever been.”
The real break came later, in 2018, when a mentor recommended Momplaisir for a slot in one of the so-called mini-rooms where writers are asked to devise a storyline for a show that has yet to be greenlit. It’s a format that circumvents the traditional model of TV writing (and its pay standards), in some cases leading to actual episode scripts being drafted. The show didn’t get picked up. “That was heartbreaking,” he said. “You spent all this effort, all this work creating a whole show, and then they just walk away from it.”
He stayed afloat by taking some bit acting parts, then finally began to find stability last year, when he was hired to write on three shows. But that doesn’t mean he’s done scrounging for work. “When I’m in the writers’ room, if I’ve got two weeks left,” he said, “I’m already like, cool, what’s the next job…?