Though Victoria Strouse’s first feature, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” has yet to appear in theaters, the young writer already has made a reputation for herself in Hollywood, not only for her two high-profile screenplay sales, but also for her desire to pursue an acting career simultaneously.
Her second script, “Just Like a Woman,” even had an unusual condition attached to its sale — in addition to a price of $1 million against $2 million, the deal with New Line Cinema included a provision that Strouse be allowed to screentest for the movie.
“Acting is an extension of writing,” she says of her thespian aspirations.
The daughter of composer Charles Strouse, best known for the musicals “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Annie,” Strouse says growing up with someone so passionate about his work was an enormous influence.
“His work ethic is second to none,” she says. “Unconsciously, that seeped into my way of thinking.”
After graduating from Tufts U. near Boston, Strouse went to the screenwriting program at the USC Cinema-Television School. She also studied performing with L.A. comedy improv troupe the Groundlings.
Though success came relatively quickly, she hopes that people don’t think it came easily. “I work obsessively,” she says. “Both scripts went through like 50 drafts.”
In her writing, Strouse particularly strives to create characters who have the humor, vulgarity and liveliness of real people.
“It’s important to write dialogue that sounds like how people talk,” she says, adding that she is especially careful with women, trying to make them as interesting as the women she knows rather than the familiar onscreen caricatures.
Ultimately, Strouse wants to combine writing, acting and directing. Yet she has no doubt about which part of the process remains closest to her heart. “Writing is my primary love and joy and passion,” she says.