“My greatest tragedy is now my greatest benefit: It gave me guts, and a sense of who I am.”
Screenwriter Heather Hach
Denver Post article
What would you do if your spouse called in the middle of the night and said they were never coming home?
You could move to LA and purse a career in screenwriting. That’s what Heather Hach did—and it’s worked out pretty well.
Hach co-wrote the 2003 film Freaky Friday with Leslie Dixon, and wrote the book for Legally Blonde; The Musical (based on another book and the movie). The play opened on Broadway in 2007-2008, is currently on tour in the states, and the West End production of the musical won three Olivier Award Awards (like a British Tony Awards) last week including Best New Musical which honored Hach’s work along with the music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin.
Hath’s story begins in Iowa where she was born. (I promise I don’t go out of my way to find these connections. It’s just a recoocurring theme.) In an interview with Joe Tropia on Broadway Buzz, Hach said, “So many musicals are set in Iowa. It’s like the place to cast your Americana.”
When she was 10 she moved to Loveland, Colorado with her family and eventually graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder (Journalism) in 1993. She worked in Boulder on a sports magazine, and then worked for the New York Times Denver bureau. She also began performing with an improv group where she met her husband. )The one that called in the middle of the night a few years later turning her life upside down.)
After the divorce she moved to L.A. for a fresh start and in a divorce recovery-groups met an ABC producer (Jim Janicek) who became her mentor. She signed-up for the Writer’s Book Camp and wrote a screenplay based on her divorce called, “I Used to Be an Honor Student.” (That title alone makes a nice logline.)
In 1999, she won the Disney Screenwriting Fellowship followed by the opportunity to write Disney’s Freaky Friday starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindesy Lohan, and Mark Harmon. Speaking back at CU-Boulder in 2005, she told the group, “I’m lucky because a screenplay ended up getting produced. I can’t count how many scripts are written and pitched to studios, but only a small, tiny number actually end up getting made.”
And to follow that with a play on Broadway puts her in a rare category.
Being born in Iowa and experiencing a tough divorce won’t always lead to Hollywood & theatrical success, but Hach is one more example of someone who overcame some rough spots in her life and found a way to use it as a foundation to grow as a person and a writer.
“I was someone who was used to having things go my way. I always felt really lucky in life. I was a good student and doing right in the world and … I just got pushed off a cliff. But I am here to say that life can go beyond your wildest dreams.”
She also remarried and has a son and a daughter.