Nora Ephron, who has been nominated for three Academy Awards, has an incredible resume, filled with a body of work that some screenwriters and directors dream of. Thanks to the SmartTalk series, a State Theater audience in New Brunswick, NJ was able to get a glimpse into the mind of the genius and with of this remarkable woman.
The State Theater interior was warm and inviting, with hues of yellow and red. The stage, furnished with warm toned seating and tables, was contrasted by the cooler toned blue lighting. This certainly gave the audience a comforting atmosphere.
Ms. Ephron spoke to a full house on an extremely cold winter evening. There were mostly women in the audience, but a handful of men were in attendance. She touched on the influences in her life, Deep Throat, some of her accomplishments, including the films Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and Julie & Julia she wrote and/or directed, and more.
She opened the performance remarking how getting older has its advantages saying, “Once you get cataracts fixed, there’s no longer a need for glasses”, and [as a woman] “you don’t have to shave your legs as often”, which broke the ice and immediately won the crowd over. She explained how she grew up with a family of screenwriters, which includes both parents and her sisters, and how it has affected her. Her mother has also helped her through her darkest moments, and has been a major influence. Another mentor in Ephron’s life has been her journalism teacher in Beverly Hills. We also learned that counterintuitive is her favorite word, she loves to cook, would like to visit Istanbul, as a math person she enjoys puzzles and needs answers. She was one of the few who claimed to know the identity of Deep Throat from the Watergate scandal, and once the identity had finally been divulged and she was right, she felt vindicated. One of her mother’s phrases are “Everything is copy”. I kept that in that in mind, when she shared the following advice: “If you slip on a banana peel and someone else tells the story, everyone laughs at you. If YOU tell the story, it’s your joke. You own it.”
Members of the audience were given a form to fill out to ask Ms. Ephron a question, which were collected and given to the moderator to ask on their behalf. One member asked how she could write without distractions. Ms. Ephron uses a productivity app named Freedom on her computer, which locks her out of the internet for a given period of time. She sets it for about 120 minutes to concentrate on her work. I think this is something many of us should consider using. Another asked what she valued most in friendship, and the answer was laughter and trust. The talk lasted about 90 minutes, and it seemed to be the right length for such an event, but honestly, I found her so fascinating I could’ve listened longer.
In her latest project, she teamed up with her sister Delia and wrote a collection of stories based on Ilene Beckerman’s book Love, Loss and What I Wore, which is currently playing in New York, Sydney and Paris. This review gives a great summary of the piece – a funny performance featuring five women discussing what they wore during pivotal moments in their lives. This definitely sounds like something I’d love to see with my girlfriends!
The SmartTalk series is a fabulous way to connect with inspiring women. It’s like a simulated visit to a celebrity’s home, where you hear stories and get advice from strong female role models. Barbara Corcoran, Alison Levine, Liz Murray, and Anna Deavere Smith will be speaking in the upcoming months in New Brunswick, and I encourage all in the area to buy a ticket to the performances. Fortunately, I have obtained a discount code for my readers. Use RB2011 to receive 10% off your individual ticket purchase. Hope to see you there!
All photos are courtesy of Kim Schmidt of Kim Schmidt Photography.