Monique Sorgen: Unapologetically Bold

From Santa Monica, California rose Monique Sorgen: film director, screenwriter, scriptwriter, producer, woman. This year, with the help of a predominantly female staff, she released her short narrative film titled Sorry Not Sorry, drawing inspiration from the poem This Is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams.

“When I was in college, I kept a journal, and I guess I had written it down on my journal,” Sorgen said. “And next to the poem said ‘this would make a great short film, and I was like ‘oh my God!’ It just came to me.”

Her film is an award-winning piece for a reason. Sorgen twisted the poem until it unraveled into a macabre, hilarious, jaw-slacking, eye-widening story. The film is about a married couple, Harry (Wallace Langham) and Abby (Jessica Oyelowo), straining under the weight of everyday life plus living with Harry’s overbearing father (M. Emmet Walsh).

One day, Harry eats the plums Abby had been saving for breakfast—all of them—and writes a note to Abby apologizing (not quite) for eating the fruits. This leads to a train of awful events, tumbling towards the end of the short, aiming to leave the audience shocked at the culmination of their life as they know it. I won’t spoil the end for you. Instead, I’ll simply tell you why Monique Sorgen is a woman to watch.

“They just pigeonholed me as a reality [television] person, but what I realized was my only way back into scripted was going to be by doing feature films," Sorgen said.

Sorgen released her first short film Pants on Fire in 1997 after she graduated from UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film, and Television. In 2013, she published her novel How Long You Should Wait to Have Sex.

Sorgen was a staff member in a think tank at ABC. She also had writing jobs at Comedy Central, VH1, and American TV show Blind Date.

Are you old enough to remember the golden age of Disney XD? Then you surely remember the Thirstbusters. Sorgen produced, wrote, and directed three of the band’s music videos for their songs "Good Things," "So There," and "Tomorrow’s Saturday."  

But like every good story, there are hardships and frustration. Monique Sorgen wasn’t the exception.

“At some point, I just thought the whole world was really evil because I came into this business to make up stories about fictional people to be played by actors about topics I wanted to cover. And then I found myself just, by complete accident, in this world where we were taking real people and humiliating them on television, and I was good at it,” Sorgen said, reflecting about her experience in the reality television business. “I realized at that point that I wasn’t being taken seriously in the scripted world for television comedy anymore.”

However, Sorgen was quick to realize that she needed to get back into the world that made her happy, and that wasn’t reality television. She decided to focus on feature films, and in time, she sold USA Network one of her original scripts, but it never translated from words to picture. Therefore, she had to find a way to cope and push forward with her passion.

“I had to reinvent myself,” Sorgen said. “I had to reinvent myself multiple times.”

Sorgen still faces the uncertainty that comes with leading a creative career, but when asked if she ever saw herself doing anything else, she replied:

“My life goal has always been to optimize the quality of my life at every moment,” Sorgen said. “So, despite all the pain and suffering that goes along with this career, it’s still worth it.”

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