Lauren Schmidt ’00 Shines in Unexpected Hollywood Career
Lauren Schmidt is living proof that a small liberal arts college can earn you a big-time Hollywood career. Although that is not what she planned when she came to Wittenberg, Schmidt has enjoyed an immensely successful career as a television writer and producer. Immediately after graduation, she worked for six years on NBC’s award-winning West Wing, earning a Writers Guild of America nomination in 2003 for an episode she co-wrote and having her first solo episode air in 2004. After writing and co-producing for ABC’s hit show Private Practice, she is now a writer and producer for a new NBC drama, Parenthood, which will debut in spring 2010.
Schmidt is the first to admit this was not a career path she’d ever considered. In fact, she had envisioned a less high-profile path teaching creative writing. For four weeks this past summer, she got the chance to fulfill that wish as one of the instructors at Wittenberg’s first-ever Summer Screenwriter’s Institute. She worked with the Department of English, her husband, producer Michael Hissrich, and award-winning playwright Dan Stroeh ’01, to offer this innovative course in which students collaborated and wrote a pilot script.
“To be welcomed back to my university to pursue my original plan – and to be able to teach the type of writing I love the most – was such an amazing opportunity,” she said. “I adored working with the students and I loved creating and working with a community of writers in a university setting.”
It was not the first time the English major had been back; she had shared her talent and experiences with the Wittenberg community in 2008 during a series of speaking engagements and a colloquium. More recently, Wittenberg honored her with its Outstanding Young Alumna Award, given to a graduate of the last decade who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in her profession.
“I tell students that I apply lessons that I learned at Witt – in classrooms, in my time at the Writing Center and even in my social life – everyday in television writer’s rooms. So no matter what a student wants to pursue, I encourage them to soak up all of the lessons, educational and otherwise, that they learn at Wittenberg.”