Screenwriter-Producer Jenniffer Gómez on Mentoring In The Disruptors Fellowship
March 17, 2021
Writer-producer Jenniffer Gómez (Vida, Sacred Lies) broke into Hollywood without any personal contacts. She knows just how challenging navigating the industry can be without any guidance.
"Coming up in our industry is not an easy thing to do," she says. "There are lots of ways to 'make it' but there are also lots of ways to get lost. Finding a mentor to guide you can be instrumental, both for practical reasons and frankly, for emotional support."
Which is why when she was invited to be a mentor in The Disruptors Fellowship by its co-creator Julio Salgado, Gómez jumped at the chance. The inaugural fellowship is for emerging television writers of color who identify as trans and/or non-binary, disabled, undocumented and/or formerly undocumented immigrants.
"For writers of color, mentorship can also mean the difference between not being seen and being celebrated and uplifted," she says. "This is also the first fellowship I know about that targets undocumented and formerly undocumented immigrants. For that reason alone, I was compelled to participate."
Gómez says she is looking forward to reading new scripts from the writers and learning from her mentees as they begin on their new journey.
"A good mentor knows how to listen," she says. "Often times we want to be the ones talking, to share our experiences with mentees, but sometimes, just listening to their needs can make all the difference."
As for what makes the best mentee, Gómez says it's key to be open in every way. "The more a mentor knows about you and what you want and need, the more they can try to help you."
Gómez understands the importance of having someone helping you on the way up.
"My friend and spirit sister, [producer] Tanya Saracho, opened many doors for me," she says. "Although she very humbly says that she’s not the mentor type, the truth is, I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. She not only gave me my first staffing job, she also gave me my first producing job, and has always been extremely generous with her time and experience."
Now as a producer, Gómez shared that it's important for her to include BIPOC, WOC and LGBTQIA2S+ voices on set and in the writing room.
"I ache to see my queer Latina self on screen and I know other people ache to see their own identities represented on screen as well. Like this program stresses, Hollywood has the power to create and shift culture, and it starts with the stories we choose to tell and the content creators we choose to support."
For those who are interested in applying to The Disruptors Fellowship, Gómez says, "Apply, apply, apply!" Even if it takes multiple tries. "Fellowships are not about ego. If you don’t get in, don’t sweat it. Move on and keep honing your craft. 'Making it' requires resilience, so keep at it, and remember: Lo que está pa’ tí, nadie te lo quita."
As for her biggest piece of advice for those writers just starting out, Gómez says it's key to think of your career as a marathon, not a sprint.
"Every meeting is an opportunity. Every opportunity leads to another. And for the love of whatever spiritual entity you believe in (or don’t believe in), always have more than one script!"
Written by: Brianne HoganBrianne Hogan is a freelance writer currently based in Prince Edward Island. A film studies graduate from NYU, her byline's been featured in Creative Screenwriting, ScreenCraft, The Huffington Post, among others. "Jurassic Park" is unashamedly her favorite movie (at this moment). You can follow Brianne on Twitter via @briannehogan