How ghostwriting for celebrities helped me find my voice
Through learning to write in other peoples' voices, I finally found my own.
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This is a guest column from writer Sophia Jennings, a TV writer and essayist whose words have appeared in Rolling Stone, MTV and more. Here, she writes about how she quit her job during the pandemic and how it was writing for celebrities that — surprisingly — ended up saving her.
The other day I was scrolling through Twitter when I clicked on a link posted by a Very Famous Actor. The link led to an emotional essay about social inequality, the movie industry, and the actor’s own journey towards self-empowerment.
It was smart, funny, and unexpectedly touching. I loved it.
Until I realised I wrote it.
Let me explain. Like so many of us, I spent most of 2020 in a constant panic. After quitting my full-time job to become a TV writer, I found myself unemployed, broke, and living in my mum’s basement for the third national lockdown in the UK. How was I supposed to get a job on a show when nobody was hiring? And how was I supposed to get an interview if I couldn’t go out and meet people?
“Just keep writing,” people said, “and wait for things to calm down.”
Well, things didn’t calm down. So eventually, I stopped asking the world for a job and started telling the world exactly who I wanted to be.
“Hi, I am Sophia, and I am a writer. What can I do for you?”
I practiced saying it, then emailed it to over fifty people, one of whom was a talent manager. Her answer was…a lot. Both in the UK and America, I found that celebrities needed writers. As one UK manager confessed to me, talent are now expected to “do it all”—newsletters, podcasts, social media, and products, on top of their own jobs and impact initiatives. They can’t do it all. So they hire people like me to write as them. Here’s how I did it.