LA FIRSTS is an interview series at ATW&SB that shines a spotlight on just a few of the countless people who make the brave and absurd decision to move to Los Angeles to write for film or TV. We talk about what got them packing boxes, the realities that hit when they first came to L.A. and important milestones they finally achieved.
Alison Stevenson is a writer and comic originally from LA who recently moved back to the Southland in 2012. She has written for VICE and Uproxx's Filmdrunk, and recently developed an animated pilot with Workaholics co-creator Connor Pritchard. You can find her on Twitter at @JustAboutGlad.
When did you first realize that you wanted, or needed, to move to LA?
Well, this is a weird one for me because I am actually from LA. I left when I was 18 to go to UC Davis and then kind of hung around the bay area because I really did not want to go back to LA (home). I got into stand-up comedy (almost completely by accident), and after doing that in the Bay I figured that the move to LA was inevitable so I might as well get it over with.
What was the first thing you did when you arrived?
Well, I moved back home to live with my mom so the first few months was filled with a lot of wallowing in self-pity. I hit up as many open mics as I could, tried finding a job, and wrote.
How did you find your first LA apartment (and what was it like)?
I moved into and apartment about a year after living with mom. My friends from college offered me a spot, and now I live in a beautiful spacious living room complete with curtain walls, and no closet. Okay, this is sounding a lot sadder than it really is. I'm in Studio City, and have grown to love this neighborhood. I love any neighborhood where a thrift store and comic book store are within walking distance. Okay, maybe this is still sounding pretty sad.
How did you find your first job in LA?
I tried doing the whole “find a job in the industry” thing but was just being offered stupid unpaid internships for people who suck. I interned for a day for this woman who wanted me to help her organize a beauty pageant, and just could not handle it. I also figured that a PA job would be full-time, and if I got one it would be a lot harder for me to find writing time, and stand-up time. That's also probably me making excuses for my overwhelming laziness but I have never been good at time management, sticking to a schedule, having a lot of energy, or any of that responsible adult shit.
What was that first job like?
My first that I stayed with for longer than a day was for a website. In fact, I still have it. Other than my freelance gigs, this job requires me to go into an office and help run the site.
What was your social circle like when first arriving in LA?
My social circle was mostly my mom taking me to the mall and begging me to lose weight. I also hung out with some old friends from high school. When I wasn't trapped in the hell that is my hometown of Woodland Hills I would hang out with other comics, and the random friends I made at events. It's a slow process, but eventually you find yourself surrounded by a good group of people you can feel close to, and watch Netflix with while getting drunk off of expired wine.
What was the first time LA felt like home?
I became a regular at a bar.
What was the first time moving to LA felt like a mistake?
I became a regular at a bar.
Did you have the kind of writing time you expected when you first got settled?
I had a lot of time on my hands, which was kind of a bad thing. I had no job, not a lot of friends, and all the time in the world, yet still found it difficult to find writing time. Mainly because I would spend the day watching Ally McBeal for six hours straight. Having copious amounts of free time is both a blessing and a curse. I much prefer my schedule now. I have been forced to learn how to balance my time more wisely. I'll admit, I still suck at it but I'm learning. I've cut it down to three hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
What lead to your first bit of exposure as a writer?
Getting the opportunity to write for Filmdrunk and for VICE. Filmdrunk came first, then VICE followed shortly after. I would contribute to smaller blogs, and write on my own blog but these were the first sites where I knew I was definitely dealing with more than ten readers.
How much longer did that exposure take from when you first expected it?
Well, I admit that I got really lucky when it came to both those opportunities. I still don't think I have a huge amount of exposure. Funny enough, both opportunities came through stand-up. I don't know what the advice is there. Do with that what you will.