Tracy Held

Writer for Stage & Screen

Winner of AAPI Writing Fellowship

Writers Boot Camp AAPI Fellowship winners: Tracy Held, Helen Huang, and Alison Minami.

We’re already a third of the way into the Writers Boot Camp where I’m drafting a new TV pilot on spec with the working title, “The Gold West.” By September, I will have a second revision of this one-hour pilot and will be excited to start shopping it around town. The fellowships provide a fast-paced series of courses and exercises to quickly but thoroughly bound through initial drafts of new written material, and I’m already falling in love with my characters and their unfortunate conflicts.

I’m especially delighted to be embarking on this adventure with friend and collaborator Alison Minami.

Semi-Finalist for Mu Tang Clan

Vertical headshots of inaugural Mu Tang Clan playwrights.

I am honored to be listed as a semi-finalist for the inaugural Mu Tang Clan playwrights incubator. Theater Mu is doing a lot for Asian American playwrights across the country and I could tell this was an extremely competitive process. Congratulations to Marlina Gonzalez (Minneapolis, MN), Keiko Green (La Jolla, CA), Kathy Haddad (Minneapolis, MN), Alex Lin (Saddle River, NJ), and Susan Xu (San Francisco, CA) for making it into the program!

Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative (LAFPI)

Periodically, I get to participate in fun networking events through Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative (LAFPI). Recently, I got to share a short piece called, “What We Owe,” and directed another piece, “Being Richard Green,” by Lynne Jassem.

Screenshot of all of the participants at LAFPI’s recent Micro-Plays event.
Screenshot of Zoom performance of “Being Richard Green” by Lynne Jassem.
Screenshot of performers from “What We Owe” by Tracy Held.

Best Story I Never Told

Screenshot of the audio link to the podcast “Best Story I Never Told.”

Had a great time hanging out with David Ngo for his podcast Best Story I Never Told where I shared the 7 Weirdest Things People Accused Me of Lying About (plus one thing I actually DID lie about!). Check out this podcast your favorite platform.

WGAW Statement for #StopAsianHate

As a member of the Writers Guild of America West Asian American Writers Committee, it was an honor to collaborate in the writing of our official statement about anti-Asian sentiment and what we can do in the film industry to make things better. Anti-Asian and anti-immigrant narratives are not new, but they proliferate with the support of negative and stereotypical depictions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. This statement was featured in Deadline and Variety.

In addition to providing creative representation by being a Chinese American writer telling stories, I also incorporate Chinese history and inclusive characters and worlds in the stories I tell. My play “Intertwined” portrays a fictional story of a Chinese immigrant who falls in love with a white woman during a time when a union like that is illegal. In California, anti-miscegenation laws were active until 1948, when it was the first state in the union to end them.

I am also working on a film documentary featuring an important Chinese American entrepreneur and an action comedy TV pilot centered around a fictional Chinese American family in San Francisco.

Despite the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, there are many ways to promote this community, including shopping at Asian American businesses, reading literature written by members of these communities, and choosing to watch stories written by and portrayed by Asian American artists. And, of course, every underrepresented community benefits from the same efforts.

Subvert Stereotypes & #StopAsianHate

In recent months, I have been leveraging my membership in the Writers Guild of America West Asian American Writers Committee (AAWC) to advocate for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to help organize events that elevate the voices of writers in our communities, and to address bias and provide solutions from within the film industry.

On Thursday, May 6, at 4pm PDT, the Writers Guild Foundation will be hosting a free virtual panel titled, “Subverting Stereotypes: Re-Writing Asian American Narratives in Film and TV” in partnership with the AAWC, CAPE – Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, and the Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity to produce this important panel moderated by Tawal Panyacosit Jr. featuring Liz Hsiao Lan Alper, Teresa Hsiao, Adele Lim, Shireen Razack, and Alexander Woo.

Subverting Stereotypes: Re-Writing Asian American Narratives in Film and TV Panel Flyer

On Wednesday, April 14, the AAWC, along with the support of the Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity, hosted an inspiring and raw discussion with influential Asian American writers about their experiences in Hollywood along with actionable strategies for supporting our colleagues and portraying authentic characters and stories. This panel was moderated by Jenny Yang (Last Man Standing) with panelists Soo Hugh (Pachinko), Tze Chun (Gremlins), Nancy Kiu (Batwoman), Danny Chun (Speechless), Sunil Nayar (4400), and Veena Sud (Seven Seconds).

#StopAsianHate: How to be an Ally in the Room Event Flyer

Elbow Grease

Trap Street generously gave me the opportunity to write a radio play about pandemic life and they posted it as a podcast! Look up The Radiograph wherever you get your podcasts to check it out.

Written by Tracy Held. Directed by Alaina McManus. Performed by Jesse Abbott Chin and Tony Werner.

Elevating Black Writers

Writers play a unique role in our theater and film communities and in our society as a whole. We understand how essential narrative is to understanding the human condition and to connecting with each other.

At this time, we are experiencing the impacts of a society that stifles Black voices and reinforces narratives that promote white supremacy. We should not be willing to continue to go back to business as usual. As we open this conversation, there are actions that all of us can begin now. 

I invite you to participate in the elevation of Black writers using tools that are easily accessible to you.

1) Become familiar with the work of Black playwrights and screenwriters, particularly writers who are actively producing work. 
2) Write recommendations for plays by Black authors on review websites, including online bookstores.
3) Promote Black writers and their work on social media.
4) Encourage theater companies that you respect to present more work by Black writers (it’s particularly powerful if you recommend two or three authors and specific plays).
5) Recommend Black writers for developmental opportunities.
6) Encourage your friends and colleagues, particularly your White friends, to get to know the works of Black writers.
7) Watch films made by Black writers and directors. When theaters open up again, make an effort to buy tickets for shows written by Black writers.

When we read the works of Black writers, we understand their concerns and their communities better, and we are better able to implement effective anti-racism strategies. When we promote Black writers, we redistribute access to opportunities to writers who may otherwise get overlooked. When we support productions by Black writers, we help ensure their longevity as playwrights and screenwriters and poets and novelists, and we often help create more acting opportunities for actors of color. 

Most importantly, when we elevate Black writers, we get to experience their essential and transformative stories, and that’s really what storytelling is about.

Eugene O’Neill Playwriting Class

Creating plays with teens for the Eugene O’Neill Student Studio Retreat

In June 2019, I got to teach playwriting to a creative and clever group of teens through the Eugene O’Neill Studio Retreat. The students had one week to write an original play at the historical Tao House and then we had one week to rehearse the plays with students in the actor program.

It was a delight to work with Norman Gee, Brady Lea, and all of the writers, actors, and volunteers. I remain particularly grateful to the students who educated me about the significance of Vines and invited me into their funny, heart-string-tugging, and contemplative worlds.

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