HF-L grad is Oscar-nominated screenwriter

Meg LeFauve (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

On this edition of “Hollywood Hometown Heroes” we spoke with Meg LeFauve, a recent inductee to the Honeoye Falls-Lima School District Alumni Hall of Fame. Meg LeFauve is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter for the Pixar film Inside Out, as well as a film producer and director. After graduating HF-L in 1983, she studied at Syracuse University where she received a B.S. in Screen Writing and English. I spoke with Meg about her career and her memories growing up in HF-L.

Q: What made you decide to move to LA/ How long have you lived here?
I moved to Los Angeles in 1992. I was working in New York City in advertising but had gone to school at Syracuse University to be a screenwriter. I decided it was time to “take my shot” so I came to LA. I worked first as an assistant to an agent at ICM and from there when to work with Jodie Foster at her production company, Egg Pictures. I was an executive and producer with Egg Pictures for 10 years and then – again – decided it was time to “take my shot” and re-invented myself again to become a writer.

Q: What was your first job?
During High School I had my first job — working at Woolworth’s at the mall. I worked in women’s lingerie and then at the back cash register.

Q: Did you immediately know what you wanted to do?
I love storytelling and was an avid reader. Since I was very little I wanted to be a writer. However I didn’t have the courage to do it for a very long time. I treated it more like a hobby. It wasn’t until I had many other jobs and had a full life that I was brave enough to try.

Q: How did you find your way into animation?
When I was writing live action films for studios and independent films, my goal was to write for Pixar, because I thought the writers and directors at Pixar were some of the best storytellers in the business. I wanted to be challenged by them and learn from them. It was a dream come true when they called to ask if I’d come up to interview with Pete Docter. I didn’t really know animation well as a process when I got the job — but I learned fast.

Q: Is there anything you learned back in Rochester that you think has helped you out in LA?
I learned that you can step into the unknown and thrive. I was the new kid in high school at Honeoye Falls-Lima. Before school started I imagined all kinds of horrible scenarios, but instead I found good friends, a first love and amazing teachers who opened up my perspective. When you work in the film business, it’s a constant state of stepping into the unknown — each project brings a new story to write, new collaborators, new crew, new challenges, new fears and new possibilities. Changing high schools and finding the wonderful people of HF-L helped me to know I could do it.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about LA?
I love that everyone is here because they have a dream and are passionately working towards that dream. Everyone is striving. Everyone has a plan and is working their butt off to become the person they want to be. There is such great energy here. It’s competitive, and challenging.

Q: What do you miss most about Rochester?
The weather. Which may seem strange, but I loved the seasons and the storms and the drama of the weather. Los Angeles weather is pretty boring…My parents have both passed away now, so I miss my time in Rochester with them. I loved our house in the woods, the long country roads and the dark night sky, full of stars. It was a time in my life full of potential, when I was just starting to understand who I was and who I could possibly be.

Q: Any piece of advice for someone who aspires to work in the entertainment industry (specifically a writer/producer)?
Decide what your dream/beacon is and work hard to get it —- keep it at the center of your choices. This town can pressure you to make other people’s priorities and dreams your own. But if you are able to keep connected to yourself, your values, your dreams, your hopes, and who you are — you can find true success.

Q: What current projects are you working on?
I am currently writing and co-directing (with Nathan Grendo) “Gigantic” for Disney Animation. It’s my first time directing so I’ve given myself another challenge. I am also writing another animated film based on a children’s book “My Father’s Dragon” for Netflix and Cartoon Saloon.

Q: What is your favorite film so far of 2017?
Wonder Woman —There is a moment in the film when she charges out of a foxhole, rushing towards the enemy – and the men all look at each other – and follow her. When I saw it I got tears in my eyes. I had never seen a woman in a film take that role — the warrior charging first and men following her into battle. They followed her not because she was sexy or some kind of killing machine or a robot. They followed her because she was skilled. And brave. And right. It sounds simple and yet — it was exhilarating.

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