I started following this lovely lady, Keely MacDonald on twitter a couple of months ago after she kept popping up on my timeline in conversations with friends. But before I go off on a tangent about our mutual love for The 100 and various other tv shows I will let her do the talking.
Tell us about yourself.
So my name is Keely MacDonald, and I’m the Writers’ Assistant on “Sleepy Hollow” Season 3. I’m from North Carolina, I went to Duke University, and I loooove fiction. I first worked as a production assistant on the ABC Family sitcom “Melissa and Joey,” and after that I started as a research intern on Season 1 of “Sleepy Hollow.” From there, I’ve been fortunate enough to be with an incredibly mentoring and awesome group of writers who have bumped me up each season. My favorite things are: cats, dragons, TV, reading, sushi, frozen yogurt, pomegranates, and my friends and family!
What do you do?
So I am the Season 3 Writers’ Assistant for “Sleepy Hollow.” On television shows, a group of writers come up with the character arcs and storylines that you see and love. It’s basically a fun group of people talking free-form about cool ideas, and building on those to eventually land on something meaningful and interesting. As Writers’ Assistant, I am kind of the record-keeper; when the writers discuss things, I take notes, and help organize those in a way that the writers can use when breaking their episodes and writing outlines. I’m really lucky because the writers on “Sleepy Hollow” are incredibly supportive, and they often encourage me to partake in the discussion as well. I am also the Arbiter for our Quotes of the Day!
How did you first become interested in writing?
I’ve always really loved writing, even when I was in elementary school (though back then, I was mostly writing mystery stories that pretty much always revolved around a cat, haha). That continued through the years, and I kept up a blog and would write fanfiction for various things I loved. In college, I was actually an international relations major, with minors in French and history, and I thought I would go to Law School. I took some creative writing courses, including one screenwriting class, though, which eventually paved the way for me coming out to LA to pursue a career in TV writing. I didn’t make that decision until after I graduated, though. It’s never too late to chase your dream!
Who are some women that inspire you?
I’m sure many people say this, but actually Jane Espenson was the one who really inspired me to think about television writing. I loved her writing on “Buffy” and “Battlestar Galactica,” and several interviews she’d given made me realize that this was something I was definitely interested in pursuing. Other role models include Natalie Coughlin, whose work ethic has always inspired me, as well as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling for all they’ve accomplished. And this might sound incredibly corny, but also my mother, Lynn MacDonald. She writes a humor blog called “All Fooked Up,” and she taught me to always be my own person no matter what.
What are you passionate about?
So. Many. Things. Honestly, most of them revolve around fiction. I really love every medium: reading, TV, video games, anime… I love it all. I also am actually really passionate about swimming. I grew up as a swimmer, and it really formed who I am as a person. I’m all about time management, and I know that consistent hard work will help you along your path, no matter the distance.
Most helpful piece of advice someone has given you?
In general? Do what makes you happy. My mom always told us how she wanted to be an artist or a historian, but her Dad didn’t think it was practical. She wound up working in computer science, but she’s finally found her way back to painting now. She told me growing up that we (my siblings and I) would be able to pursue whatever made us happy. Honestly, without that support, I don’t know if I’d be out here right now, but every day I come to work extremely grateful and happy to be doing what I love. If you want something – go for it! You can do it if it means enough to you.
What’s one thing you want to tell women everywhere?
I hope this doesn’t sound too corny, but I want to tell you to believe in yourself. I think no matter what you’re doing, life and the people around can get you down sometimes, and it can be hard to think of yourself as your best cheerleader – but just remember why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place, and it helps. You are strong. You are unique. You are kickass. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself!
Why do you do what you do and what do you love most about what you do?
For me, it’s all about the people. My coworkers on “Sleepy Hollow” are honestly like my family out here in LA. When I was sick, they brought me meals and sent me flowers. When I needed advice, they were all there for me. I do what I do because I love fiction and the idea of an escape into different worlds, but what I love most about it are the life-long connections that you make. Shout-out to my “Sleepy Hollow” family – y’all are the best.
Are there challenges you have faced in your work specifically because you’re women? If so, how did you overcome them?
This is tough. Hollywood can be a hard industry in general, and there are certainly way fewer women than men. I’ve been mostly lucky so far, and I’m not going to name specific instances where that might not have been the case, but I think the best way to overcome it is to understand that this is what you’re going to change when you rise up. One day when you’re in a position of power, you can implement those changes – be the change you wish to see in the world!
Are there any particular people who you would absolutely love to collaborate with on something or people you would like to meet?
Ah, so many people! Honestly, I’d geek out to meet the writers from several different shows that I love. If I could have just one night of hanging out with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, that’d be EVERYTHING. I’d also love to meet Lin-Manuel Miranda (if you haven’t listened to “Hamilton,” GO DO THAT RIGHT NOW!), and basically the entire cast of “The 100,” haha.