And if the headline above doesn’t make you keep reading, Susan and we at TVWriter™ are going to feel awfully…cold? Apologies, and now to the main event:
How To Thrive Despite Your Fears
by Jeryl Brunner
We all experience fear and self-doubt, no matter where we are in life. But Nelson Mandela said, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Take the barrier-breaking television writer Susan Silver. She was one of the first female TV scribes to find herself in coveted male-only writers’ rooms. The Milwaukee native hit Hollywood and amassed impressive credits writing for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maude, The Bob Newhart Show, The Partridge Family and other hits.
Throughout her life, so many moments filled Silver with fear, which began when she was a child. “I was overprotected to the point of paralysis. Thus, I was fearful of a lot of things,” she explains. “I was called high-strung by teachers, nervous by school nurses, and I was always in tears from slights either imagined or real from friends.”
In her recent delicious memoir, Hot Pants In Hollywood: Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms, she describes being the consummate “scaredy kid” who was afraid of everything. The fears continued to her adulthood. ‘Somehow I overcame my fears,” explains Silver. “Or continued in spite of them.”
But she didn’t let any of that get in the way of her dreams, especially when the odds were stacked against her, just by virtue of being female.
When she was a casting director for Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, she desperately wanted to be a writer on the hit variety show. However she was told that wasn’t an option because all the writers were men. They insisted that they would be uncomfortable having her in the motel room where they worked because they needed to be able to “fart and strip down to their underwear.”
Instead of backing down, she found a way to spend time with the writers and soak up their knowledge when they were fully clothed and in their offices. And ultimately she had her manager at the time (the great director Garry Marshall) submit her to be a writer for a new female-focused series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was hired.
Whether she was working as a TV writer or meeting Bill Clinton in the Oval Office during his presidency or approaching Israeli President Shimon Peres in Israel when he was surrounded by guards, Silver always found her inner chutzpah.
Throughout Hot Pants in Hollywood, Silver reveals the innovative ways she was able to get what she wanted despite her fears. “What gave me the idea that I could accomplish anything, have a life filled with iconic celebrities and success beyond my wildest fantasies?” she asks in the book. “My scaredy kid still lives inside me. But if you talk fast and carry yourself tall they won’t find out… maybe….”