Hail Diablo Cody. Hollywood’s own Veni, Vedi, Veci. This Diablo’s got words, and she’s not afraid to use them.
I had the life-altering experience of randomly bumping into Diablo Cody’s work in a library, long before the movie JUNO nailed the Best Original Screenplay Screenwriter Oscar for 2007. After I graduated from formal education, my learning experiences became wild and carefree. I would walk around a library, close my eyes, and pick a book. Whatever it was, I read it. This time it was Candy Girl, the calling card Diablo Cody used to blast open the closed doors of Hollywoodland.
As screenwriters covertly know, there are secrets to making it in Hollywood. The first, especially for a woman, YOU MUST BE FEARLESS, you can have fear, but it can’t ‘interfear’ with your writing.
When Diablo Cody came to Hollywood, as Mid-Western young lady Brook Busey, she took a look around, got a job in the mail room of a big movie studio, and focused on her strategy. How can I grab the attention of a producer to prove how good I am? Oh yeah, CONFIDENCE is the second secret. You MUST BELIEVE that your talent is real. She chose a pen name, a name that would instantly identify her as neither male nor female, and a name that conjured visions of ‘Caesar’, in Latin. If she had known she would be a role model and inspiration for many female screenwriters to follow, she couldn’t have created a fresher or edgier name.
Next, she had to get traction. Following the trends in the business (and working in the mail room), she quickly realized that adapting books into scripts was superior to sending infinite query letters. What would be a book that producers would read? It had to be something unthinkable, off-limits, not allowed, something taboo. Brook Busey, from a religious and loving family, with no abuse issues or drug addictions, decided to TAKE A CHANCE, and get a job in the sex industry, as research for writing a book about her experience. Not only was Candy Girl the book she wrote, it was the book that caught the eye of producer Mason Novick.
Mason Novick suggested she start from scratch, and write a new script that would be commercially appealing to the industry. It should still have a taboo character lead (helps for water cooler word of mouth and controversy), they settled on an unwed teenage girl who gets pregnant by her best friend. Perfect! JUNO was in play, and Diablo would have the opportunity to show off her screenwriting chops. The film enticed an ensemble of top talent. Actors aren’t looking for money, they have agents for that. Actors want fresh and unique roles, ones that will stretch their abilities to create characters people will never forget. Ellen Page landed the role of Juno. J.K. Simmons (Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Whiplash 2015), plays the important supportive and respectful Dad, who allows his teenage daughter to make her own adult decisions. Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, Michael Cera and Jason Bateman also star in the film. Jason Reitman seized the day as director, as well as John Malcovich being a producer. As we all know, JUNO was a smash success. Even the soundtrack topped the charts.
The funny thing about Candy Girl, Diablo found that the top earner in the stripper industry wasn’t the prettiest girl, or the girl with the best body. For a good story she needed to find out, what was her secret? She couldn’t give up until she herself became the number one earner.
Gone With the Wind isn’t about the Civil War, it’s a backdrop for great characters, Candy Girl isn’t about stripping, it’s about being in it, to win it. That’s why, on her resume, Diablo Cody can put Academy Award Winning Screenwriter and Exotic Dancer. That’s a conqueror, Oh my!