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When you go to the dentist or doctor’s office as a kid, there’s always the same question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You make a yucky face at the phrase “grow up” because being an adult sounds gross. As the dentist brushes your teeth, you muster up an answer along the lines of doctor, scientist, or teacher.
My answer was always, “I think I want to be a writer.” The doctor would smile at me, hoping to be encouraging toward my unforeseeable life goals. The dentist would nod awkwardly because all he heard was spit dancing around my mouth.
- Lashanna Bryant
Fast forward: I am still going to the doctor and the dentist, and the growing-up part is starting to become a reality. They don’t ask that question (or give me a lollipop) anymore, and frankly, it’s both disappointing and enlightening. Instead, they ask questions like, “What university do you go to? What’s your major? What kind of career do you intend on starting after college?” To which I answer: “I go to Arcadia University, I am an English/Creative Writing major, and I want to work in media and journalism.”
You can only imagine how long it took me to put those pieces together. But when I started Arcadia, it suddenly clicked for me. I knew that not only did I want to write novels, but I also had an interest in different forms of media. Taking classes with Professors Chris Mullin, Michael Dwyer, Matthew Heitzman, and many others, I learned that I had a strong passion for telling stories— whether they were my own, someone else’s, or about a person I made up entirely in my head.
So with that, I took a leap of faith, one that I don’t believe I would’ve taken had I not gone to Arcadia.
Sitting in my dorm freshman year, I noticed a contest on Facebook that peaked my interest. It was for Wizard World Con in Philadelphia. If selected, you would win a four-day pass to the event, a special prize pack, and a chance to meet Justice League star Jason Momoa. I entered, not expecting much because I don’t normally win anything. But a few weeks ago, I got a notification on Facebook — I bet you know where this is going — that I won the contest! I was so excited that I called all of my family members to tell them. I could not believe my luck. As I fantasized about meeting Jason and going to the convention, I did some digging on their website and found something that caught my eye.
Want to make a movie with us? Out of curiosity, I clicked on it. The post detailed that Wizard World Con was holding a pitch festival with Columbia Pictures. I thought, “Is this fate? Was I meant to win the contest to meet Jason so I can pitch my idea? What do I have to lose?”
Before I could even blink, I filled out the application. I knew exactly what I wanted to pitch. It was an idea that I created the summer before and one that I thought was unique enough to submit. I also spent time creating a poster for what would hopefully be the novel and movie cover.
A few days after the submission deadline, the email hit my inbox. I was selected to pitch my film idea at the convention! What? Me?
When the day finally arrived, I could hardly breathe. I was shaking all over, and I felt all of my previous anxiety attacks meshed into one. I was shocked to realize that I was the youngest participant by at least 10 years, and amazingly, the only female. Everyone looked at me like I had come to the wrong place. “Is this where we’re supposed to meet for the pitchy thing?” I asked. I’ll blame that poor choice of words on my anxiety. Some came in with giant posters and others with printed collections of their graphic novels.
I was intimidated, but also extremely flattered. Here I was, a 20-year-old university student, going to meet representatives from Columbia Pictures. Insane. And while I was waiting, I learned that out of 1,000 applicants, only 30 of us were invited to pitch in person.
When it was finally my turn to pitch, I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I took the deepest breath possible and walked through the doors. The room was huge, with only a small table in the middle. There sat two women who appeared nice and welcoming, not mean and scary as I had imagined. The log line describing my pitch read: “A mourning man has enough to worry about, until a strange woman from his dreams starts to predict the deaths of his psychiatric patients. As time races on he has to figure out who is doing this, before they are all ultimately murdered.” They told me how impressed they were with me and that they thought my idea was extremely fascinating.
I haven’t heard back yet, but I left with a feeling I’m going to hold on to. I know I have something to offer. I know the direction I want to take at Arcadia University, and beyond, is the right choice. I know that in my upcoming years at Arcadia, I will encounter many more opportunities that could help me achieve my dream.
Side note: Jason Momoa touched my shoulder and I’m never washing it again.