After being featured as an Endorsed Writer, Tea Ho signed with a Literary Manager at Bellevue who found her on Coverfly.
Find out how Tea took steps to develop her writing chops, find success, and see stories like hers represented on-screen.
How It All Began
I never saw myself as a screenwriter or a storyteller, but after a slew of movies came out where Asian characters were whitewashed or replaced, I realized that if I wanted to see my story represented on-screen, I had to be the one to tell it.
I first started writing sketch comedy at Magnet Theater in NYC. Developing my writing chops within the community helped bolster my confidence. Soon after, I wrote and shot a six-part web series and made a few microbudget shorts. I took feature writing and TV writing classes at Gotham Writers and joined a couple of writers groups that were vital in my development as a writer.
Focusing on community made me realize that I didn't need to fight for a seat at the table anymore — we were building a table together.
When I first started, it was scary to even say that I wanted to be a writer out loud. I had to practice by writing it down on the page. On top of my own insecurities, I hadn't been exposed to the successes of other Asian screenwriters, so it just didn't seem like there was room for me at the table. I didn't know anybody in the business. The idea of making a career happen seemed so far-fetched and I was frozen by my anxiety about possible failure.
It all comes down to community. Things changed for me when I found myself in a writers group started by established playwright/screenwriter Aurin Squire. Aurin created the group simply as a way to help new writers reach their goals. I was inspired by his generosity and decided to focus less on myself and focus more on helping other people around me reach their goals. I found other writers, and through helping them develop their voices as writers and workshop their pieces, I realized I was developing my own skills and confidence as well. Focusing on community made me realize that I didn't need to fight for a seat at the table anymore — we were building a table together.
How Did Coverfly Help?
Molly Kiernan, a friend/fellow writer from Magnet Theater, introduced me to the Coverfly team after they had connected her with a manager. Geoffroy, a senior development executive at Coverfly, wrote a testimonial about me and my work. It was the nicest thing anyone's ever written about my writing. He was thoughtful in working with me to target managers and then sent them the testimonial along with my script. Through Geoffroy's advocacy, I met Jeff Portnoy of Bellevue Productions who's now my manager.
If you're looking to land a manager, submit to reputable contests since managers do look at these lists.
What Comes Next?
I am currently a writing fellow in Lena Waithe's inaugural Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab, so this year I'll be finishing up a project that I'm developing within the lab. I was also accepted into another fellowship that I'm not allowed to announce yet! After that, I have my sights set on getting staffed on a show.
Advice For Aspiring Writers
Focus on building a writing community. Instead of focusing on networking with those "above" you, focus on those around you who share your goal and help them achieve their goal by sharing knowledge, trading notes, sending them opportunities. If you're looking to land a manager, submit to reputable contests since managers do look at these lists. Apply to fellowships! Take writing classes. Give and get feedback graciously. Tell people about your dreams. And don't stop writing.
I'd love to write for Viet Thanh Nguyen's/A24's The Sympathizer. It's just starting development, but I connect with the dark humor of the novel and since I'm a refugee whose dad was a political prisoner in post-war Vietnam, I really connect with the story. Another dream show is Barry — I love how it's hilarious and still manages to explore the darkest parts of the human psyche. And finally, Dear White People because of its brilliant skewering of white supremacy.