Reel Chicago’s own Reel Woman, Laura Day

Laura Day

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready.

She claims her mom named her after Twin Peaks iconic character Laura Palmer. Laura Day is a Chicago-based writer, contributing writer for Reel Chicago, freelance Producer and Assistant Director and serves as the Production Director for Women of the Now.

What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
An Astronaut/ Ballerina/ President. I wasn’t operating with the most realistic grasp of the time commitment required to achieve all of these career paths simultaneously.

How did you get into the film industry?
After graduating Northwestern, I took an internship with a company that really just turned out to be this independent filmmaker shooting and directing his own docs. It was definitely not kosher, but I learned a lot and he ended up introducing me to the production company that gave me my first real opportunities as an Associate Producer in the Commercial world.

Flash forward to now, and while I still enjoy freelancing in Production, I’ve refocused my energies on screenwriting. Working in the Production industry has given me a lot of insights into whose stories are being told on and off screen, and while I think we’re experiencing such an exciting renaissance in expanding those voices, there’s always more room to grow. I want to be a part of that.

Who were your mentors?
Like a lot of  women, I’ve never excelled in asking for guidance and support, so I can’t say I’ve had a ton of formal mentorship, but I have learned so much from the women around me who are also establishing themselves in this industry.

About two years ago I Assistant Directed for a web series called The T, which was written and directed by Bea Cordelia and Daniel Kyri. I remember being blown away by Bea’s generosity of spirit (she is so present) and her ability to command space in a room. I still consider Bea a friend and watching her grow and honor her creative vision and talent inspires me to this day.

I’m also lucky in that my first Executive Producer continues to be incredibly supportive of my winding career path, always making himself available to give feedback on my work. It’s hard to fully express the value of these relationships. Women are not traditionally encouraged to put themselves out there and ask for help, so when someone steps up and provides us with opportunity and guidance, it can be incredibly nourishing.

Blood, Sweat & Heels Teaser Video from Laura Day on Vimeo.

What is your greatest achievement?
My biggest achievement is probably the proof of concept video for my series in development titled, Blood, Sweat & Heels, and not because of the video itself, but for what it represents.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple of year developing my previously neglected talents. That video represents my commitment to myself as a writer and creator. 

It was difficult to leave what felt like a far more stable and even more respectable career as a commercial producer, but I knew that if I was going to achieve what I wanted to do as a creative, I needed to give that part of myself plenty of room to develop.

Long term, I want to be working in a writing room. Owning my ambition and taking the steps I need for it to be realized has given me the deepest sense of pride I’ve found to date, but I know that once I’m there, there will be plenty of more work to do. I can’t wait to help encourage more young women to buck what’s expected of them in favor of what they find most inspiring.

ALSO READ: Chicago producer’s take on the Weinstein scandal

What is your greatest disappointment?
A few years ago I went through a series of bad experiences with some men in the Production industry. I allowed those experiences to influence my perception of where I did and did not belong.

At first I tried to conceal my distress by projecting over confidence. When that didn’t work, I ended up stepping back from the Production community in Chicago. At the time I was disappointed in what had touted itself to be a “feminist” and “progressive” group of people, but then I realized my real disappointment was with myself.

I was allowing my ambitions to be undermined by those who did not deserve that power. It’s not a mistake that I regret making because I’ve emerged from it with so much more awareness and strength, but it was a tough lesson to learn.

What are your biggest pet peeves?
People who are more concerned with their ego than with showing kindness to others.

What are your predictions for the film industry over the next decade?
I see a lot more conceptual risks being taken thanks to the creation of so many streaming platforms. I hope that this will continue to foster content that tells increasingly diverse and marginalized stories.

Name a job you had that would surprise people.
I worked as an assistant in the Finance department of Wendy Davis’s Gubernatorial campaign in Texas. I helped the campaign raise money and produce donor events.

Which Marvel or DC superhero do you get to play?
Big fan of Jean Grey.

What do you wish you had more time to do?
Write and Daydream — in no particular order.

Do you talk to yourself?
Internally? The self chatter is incessant. Out loud? More likely to be speaking to one of my two cats.

What inspires you to be creative?
Trying to get into someone’s head and really understand their motivations, why they are the way they are, and what they have experienced. I like solving psychological puzzles, and I’ll approach my own psyche with the same almost scientific curiosity. I’m that weirdo with a copy of the DSM under my bed. I like to read it just for fun