L.A. Creatives is my new blog series highlighting young creatives in the trenches of this city, as we all strive to practice our art form and sustain a living. This interview features Jorge Molina, (@colormejorge) who is a writer I knew at USC and now the showrunner’s assistant on HEATHERS at TV Land.
JORGE MOLINA will always have three distinguishing qualities: his talent for writing, his wit, and his impeccably good fashion sense. For four years in the USC Writing for Screen and Television program, I bore witness to his collection of incredible hats, vests, red bowties, and other pieces that were unmistakably Jorge.
What was also unmistakably Jorge was his ambition and creative thinking, both of which got him the coveted job as the showrunner’s assistant on the upcoming TV Land series HEATHERS. In the writing world, it is almost unheard of to get a showrunner’s assistant job right after graduation, even with the help of USC’s prestige and connections, but Jorge found a way. He sent the showrunner an Instagram DM — a method of communication so obscure even millennials don’t use it — praising HEATHERS as one of his favorite movies and elaborating on his excitement for the series adaptation.
A few months later, Jorge found himself in his dream job on the show of HEATHERS, and in the coffeeshop Paper or Plastik with me, talking about the creative life.
Jorge grew up in Mexico City, as a son to a therapist and real estate agent. He’d been writing ever since he could remember — he liked short stories, because of how finite they are — and used it as a coping mechanism through high school. What drew him to USC and to the path of a screen and television writer is what drew most of us: the realization that making up those stories we all saw on screen was something you could do for a living.
Going to USC also helped him fall in love with the city of Los Angeles, as most of us young writers did when we wandered Downtown Hollywood and caught glimpses of the Hollywood sign. “It’s cliche to say it’s the city dreams, everyone’s here to achieve their dreams as realistic or unrealistic as that are, there’s that hopefulness; everyone knows that the odds are against them, but they still think that they’re the one. The entire city revolves around dreamers,” he says. “Everyone is the person from their town that got out.”
Even though Jorge counts himself as one of the citizen dreamers of a city built on aspriational thinking, he faces an extra set of obstacles that not all artists trying to make it in Los Angeles face: the constant hurdles of visa applications and an uncertain future as an immigrant in America. For most of us, if we can’t get a job after graduation, we move back in with our parents or get menial jobs to make ends meet and just figure it out. For Jorge, if he can’t hold down jobs that will sponsor his visa, he gets kicked out of the country. The stakes are higher, and that’s what motivates him to work at an accelerated pace and jumping the line because he has to. The time he has here may not be as much as he thinks, so he can’t play the long game with a job like I’m at (an agency) playing the long game for connections and future prospects down the line.
For someone under so much pressure, Jorge still manages to thrive. His time on HEATHERS is nothing short of a whirlwind of adventure: going out to bars with the cast, hanging out on set with the other assistants as he watches the show unfold before him. His parents text him from time to time, reminding him not to take the whole experience for granted. And he doesn’t, not a moment. His advice, to himself and to everyone else? “If you know what you want, go for it.” In a city of dreamers, there’s no room for someone who doesn’t dream big.
As we talk at Paper or Plastik, on his laptop I see open the scene he was in the middle of writing when I showed up for a new script. It’s a project that excites him, because it combines two of his identities: being Mexican, and being gay. It’s a script based on true events that I won’t spoil here.
“I still feel like Mexican heritage is compartmentalized — I still very much feel like it’s two separate sides of myself,” he says. He came out in college, so his gay identity never truly was out in the open at home in Mexico.
“I’ve never been gay in Spanish,” he says, and it’s clear that this script will be unmistakably Jorge: inspiring, unique, and something that only he could write.
Jorge’s Top LA picks:
Favorite place to write: LA Central Library (in Downtown)
Favorite Bar/Club: The Satellite (every third friday they play early 2000s pop), and WeHo bars (Flaming Saddles, the Bayou)
What are you watching/reading/listening to?
Podcasts: DEAD PILOTS SOCIETY, SCRIPT NOTES, MORTIFIED, THE SEWERS OF PARIS
Watching: NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (“It speaks to how we interpret our own stories and how we interpret narratives”), JANE THE VIRGIN, CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND, WESTWORLD, YOU’RE THE WORST