The Chimaera Project had the pleasure of chatting with the aptly named Joy Lane from Brooklyn, NY and discussed her path from script-supervisor to director on one of Network TV’s exciting dramas, now in its fifth season.
TCP: So we would love to hear all about your fascinating journey in the entertainment industry. Please share a bit about yourself and how you wound a path from the page to the lense?
JL: My parents remind me almost daily that from age 3, I told them I wanted to go to college. When asked to do what, I told them to work in television. Now, I don’t remember that moment exactly–but what I remember is from an early age, I knew I wanted to do something in television.
After college, I took a job at a local news station, which was close, but not quite what I had in mind. It was during this time there that the first school shooting occurred–Columbine. Days and days went by, I wrote and rewrote stories about the tragedy and other tragedies. Until one day, I realized that I had become desensitized to someone else’s pain for the sake of a news story. I have so much respect for reporters and journalism itself, it was simply not a good fit for me.
So I left WFMY in NC and made my way to DC. In DC, I worked mainly on PBS or Discovery shows such as “Standard Deviants” and “The Pet Psychic.” Both great experiences but not quite IT. I decided to give NYC a chance. I took an opportunity to work on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire which led to other shows and commercials. I felt alive in NYC. This was where I needed to be–collaborating and meeting like-minded folks, who have become my family. The grit, the hustle and bustle of the city gave me an energy that I had never felt before, and each day, I knew and felt closer to my childhood dream.
One day working on a commercial as a production assistant, a producer came to me and told me they were in a dilemma. They needed a 2nd unit Script Supervisor. “Go to the Script Supervisor, have her give you a crash course about everything you need to do and do it.” That’s what I did… and the rest is history…or should I say the rest is herstory.
TCP: Here! Here!
JL: I am currently a script supervisor. I’ve script supervised hundreds of commercials and worked on various television shows, one being NBC’s Blindspot. And that right there has been truly a blessing!
TCP: But you haven’t only been a script supervisor on the show…
JL: Yes. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a script supervisor but recently directed two episodes of Blindspot—what an eyeopener and an amazing opportunity! So, I’m slowly but surely getting used to the idea of being called a director.
My attitude is what sets me apart–whether a script supervisor or a director, having a positive attitude is major for me. A smile goes a long way. Being more of a listener than a speaker–having a servant’s heart. It’s important to me for my crew family to know that I’m excited to be in the trenches with them, creating something awesome. We have rocking episodes because of all our contributions.
TCP: Well, I’m sure it is a group effort, but your infectious spirit also help. It almost seems like you embody your name by being someone so uplifting. But we are sure things aren’t always easy, even though your sunny side shines through. What have been some of your challenges?
JL: It hasn’t been a smooth road–but what is?!
I’ve found that when things have been rocky, unstable, painful, and uncomfortable that it is in those times that I have grown the most, increased in faith, and seen what I’m made out of. It is the times that I felt the weakest, that in hindsight, I realize I have been the strongest, for going through the fire, the fear, the doubt, feeling the burn, coming out scorched but still standing–that is strength. And at the end of the day, you are able to help someone else, encourage someone else, lift up someone else, be the cheerleader from someone else because you survived the storm and can be an example of how they can too.
I was at the time one of the few women of color Script Supervisors in NYC. It never ceased to amaze me some of the comments that were made in the early years starting out–I remember even having union props people repeatedly take away the director’s chair and make me stand, because as they said “you can’t be a real script supervisor.” But I’m a firm believer that whatever you do, do it in excellence–I didn’t need a chair to give my very best on the job–so keep the chair!
The stories go on and on–I can remember some nights there were tears at home, but I look back and appreciate every tear shed, every rude or hurtful comment–the jobs I didn’t get and those that I did get, and realize it was all a part of the process–preparing me to do bigger and greater things.
TCP: We are certainly glad you are still standing, and look forward whatever may come. In thinking over things, what has made you the proudest?
JL: The proudest moment of my career so far was being asked to direct an episode of Blindspot. Of all the people that could have been asked—there were people who knew more than me, had been in the business longer than I had, but to have the showrunner believe in me and trust me with his “baby”–that still amazes me and causes my heart to leap. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, not once but twice.
Just keep trying–it’s so easy to look at the obstacles and get frustrated. The finances aren’t there, the ideas aren’t there, the opportunities aren’t there. You’ve been doing all you know to do, but nothing—you’re doing your best and it still doesn’t feel good enough.
Girlfriend, shut those voices up in your head and know that you are seen, and your hardwork is noticed. These setbacks are simply setting you up for greatness.
TCP: Very much agreed. Like the wind weathering a tree’s bark and making it stronger. It can almost be viewed as something to be thankful for.
JL: I try to spend each day reminding myself of my blessings and why I’m grateful. The person that was a catalyst to drive me to where I find myself today—to whom I consider a blessing is Martin Gero.
While directing a very challenging episode, my parents and a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a very long time reminded me that I had talked about directing for as long as they could remember. Then it clicked. Somehow, I allowed that dream of directing to be put on the back burner to “life” things. That dream had been pushed so far back in my mind that I had forgotten all about it.
I am forever grateful that Martin ignited that dream again, he had no idea that I had closed it up in a little box and tucked it far away. But he believed in me, encouraged me along the way, and ushered me to a seat at the table, which I never imagined.
TCP: It is nice that you found someone who believed in you. Did that help you believe in yourself do you think?
I will be honest, I dismissed myself and fought feelings of being a “fraud.” I allowed a comment made by a crew member that I was only given the opportunity and noticed because I was black and a woman to keep me in my head and doubt my ability to do the job, but we grow in adversity and I will never dismiss myself again.
If I have been blessed to sit at the table with kings and queens, then I need to sit down and put on my crown.
I say this with such love, if someone opens a door for you, if someone believes in you–then trust me YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES.
Because someone opened the door for me as a Script Supervisor and now a director, I feel it my duty to that for others. I teach script supervisor classes out of my home for those interested. I mentor and volunteer–and truthfully, I could do so much more to make the industry so much more inclusive.
Our opportunities are not just about us and what we get out of it, but for us to have the resources to help someone else on their way.
TCP: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insight, your wisdoms and your experiences for our Chimaera Project readers. I know they will benefit from your journey. Please follow Joy on social media at @joytlane9