If TVWriter™ had a series called “Getting There,” or maybe “Making It,” this is exactly the kind of informative as all hell post you’d see from us:
Tanya Saracho Has No Plans to ‘Fade’ Away
by Rob Weinert-Kendt
In less than a decade, playwright Tanya Saracho has skyrocketed from Chicago storefront theatresto that city’s and the nation’s mainstages, and then quickly to a television career in Los Angeles, where her credits include “Devious Maids,” “Looking,” and the current Shonda Rhimes hit “How to Get Away With Murder.” Saracho’s recent stage credits have included The Tenth Muse at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Mala Hierba at New York City’s Second Stage Theatre. Currently running:Fade at Denver Center Theatre Company, Feb. 5-March 13.
It’s been a while since we spoke. You’re like a superstar now.
No, sir, that’s not true.
You’re doing well, though.
Doing well is different than being a superstar. I’m in a town full of superstars and I feel like such a hag. I mean, in L.A. you meet a 29-year-old who’s already had two development deals and is working on a movie, and you’re like: Why did I get started so late? I spend a lot of time thinking: God, I don’t get it! The inner monologue you have every day—that’s the exhausting part. I can see why people jump off bridges. That may sound extreme, but at the beginning, I was on the phone with my agent saying, “Get me off this show, get me on a plane back to Chicago, I’m the worst one here.” He had to play therapist for me. I was like, “I’m a fraud,” and he said, “Let me let you in on a secret: Everyone here has that fraud syndrome. Everyone. Just go back to work.”
There’s been a learning curve, obviously, but you seem to have picked it up quickly.
It’s like a video game: I achieved Level One, and there’s brrrring sound, and you get more guns—a little bit more in your armory. I’m well into Year Three. But it’s like, outlines still stress me out. I don’t write outlines when I write a play. I just light a candle, put on some incense and go! But first of all, you can’t have a candle in your office here, and also they’re like, “You have an hour!” I’m like, “But I need to pray to my muse…”
And everything has to be vetted at every stage. So I couldn’t see the alchemy here at first, like you have in the theatre, where something goes from words on the page and actors and designers take it and make it something onstage, and there’s a magic you can’t explain. But there is alchemy here too, especially in the reach. That was something I was not prepared for. It’s even more than film. Especially on “Looking,” where I had more agency to shape characters and I was on an episode—more people watched that one episode than have seen all my plays combined. Memes started happening, and it wasn’t just that there were memes; it was that people were listening. Suddenly you’re like, Oh, shoot, you have a responsibility in what you’re saying….