It all began in summer camp; after auditioning for the annual camp show, it was determined that I could not sing, could not dance, could not act so... they made me the Producer!
After graduating from Syracuse University, Communications Degree in hand, I traveled the short geographic, distance but vast cultural divide, between Brooklyn and Manhattan and landed, high heels intact, in OZ… AKA Madison Avenue.
Yes, I did start by getting coffee, picking up cleaning, lunch and pets, as we all did back then. Through hard work and a good attitude I managed to land a post production job at a top ad agency, Y&R. This ultimately led me to establishing an in-house production team for Y&R Enterprises, a division of Y&R dedicated to the burgeoning area of retail TV commercials. The Exec Producer liked my writing and soon I was writing and producing TV and Radio commercials for several large retailers, all within house and under budget.
A few years later I was offered an opportunity (and a contract) to Associate Produce 26 episodes of the Fox TV syndicated series, ‘9-5’, based on the box office smash movie ‘9-5’. Yes, it meant leaving my beloved Manhattan and moving to LA so what to do? what to do? I took the bait thinking it would be temporary, but those of you who have moved here from NY…does anyone ever move back?
Believe it or not, Associate Producing a weekly sitcom was not nearly as interesting or fun as writing and producing TV commercials. After the show ended I was contemplating next steps when the Universe decided for me in the form of the longest writers strike ever, shutting down the industry.
I had grown accustomed to eating so I went back into advertising, this time on the account side. I was invited to guest speak at Cal State/LA which directly led me to my next career, Director of a Federal Grant in Workforce Education that partnered Cal State/LA with inner-city High Schools. This was a far cry from the Mad Men streets of Manhattan and the backlot of Twentieth Century Fox, but it was a steady paycheck, something I had come to appreciate.
Ultimately I missed the creative spark so I studied screenwriting and began writing again. To date I have written a high-concept romantic comedy screenplay and am currently writing a second one. I have also completed two childrens books, and though written in book format, both were imagined with the screen in mind. Dufus the Dolphin, a picture storybook about a clumsy but very smart young dolphin, and Ralffy’s Secret, a middle-grade adventure about a depressed dog and the little girl who loves him. Both books are the first of a series, and more to come on each.
So, after all of the above, where did I finally end up? On STAGE 32, of course!!!!!
Name: Madeline Drake
Lives in: Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Screenwriter and Producer
Television by 20th Century Fox Associate Producer