Hilary Winston: ‘Community’ writer makes good use of bad breakups

10 TV Scribes to Watch

Breakups have led to breakthroughs for comedy scribe Hilary Winston.

Winston, who recently joined the staff of ABC’s “Happy Endings,” got her first major writing gig (on “My Name Is Earl”) when a pilot she wrote in the wake of a romantic split impressed “Earl” creator Greg Garcia, who brought her on for the show’s entire run.

“I poured everything I had into that pilot — my point of view, what I thought my comedy was,” Winston says. “And Greg was like, ‘I have to have this person on my show.’ It was so amazing to feel discovered like that.”

For the past two years, she’s been a co-executive producer on “Community,” where the same spirit of go-for-broke self-disclosure served her well. “It was a show about putting everything out there at the risk of falling on our faces,” says Winston. “We never backed down from anything.”

So when she came across a novel by another ex, in which she was referred to as “my fat-assed girlfriend,” she didn’t hesitate. She spun her feelings into a collection of personal essays titled “My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me.” It led to a sale of movie rights to Paramount and her first screenplay deal.

Even so, Winston isn’t about to forsake the smallscreen.

“The staffs I worked with helped shape my book — they’d listen to my stories, and help me see what the punchlines were,” she says. “When people talk about leaving TV for features, I think, ‘How could you ever give up the writers room?’ It’s a really magical place. And for me, it’s free therapy.”

Rising writers take biggest step
Alex Cary | Whitney Cummings | Lena Dunham | John Enbom | David Hudgins | Rolin Jones | Kyle Killen | Chris Provenzano | Emily Spivey | Hilary Winston

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Haunting of Hill House

    'Haunting of Hill House' Writers Making Horror Series 'Red Rose' for BBC

    The BBC is teaming with Michael and Paul Clarkson, the twin brother writers behind the second season of Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House,” for a new horror thriller, the U.K. pubcaster announced Thursday at the Edinburgh TV Festival. “Red Rose” is being produced for the BBC’s U.K. youth-skewing online platform BBC Three. The [...]

  • Lance Reddick Angel Has Fallen

    Lance Reddick on His 'Angel Has Fallen' Role and Yale Acting Classmate Paul Giamatti

    Lance Reddick, known for tough-cop roles on such shows as “The Wire” and “Fringe” — and as a city councilman who used to be a tough cop in “Bosch” — will play the director of the Secret Service in “Angel Has Fallen,” the third installment of the “Olympus Has Fallen” series, coming to theaters Aug. 23. [...]

  • ‘Cowboy Bebop’: Elena Satine Joins Netflix

    ‘Cowboy Bebop’: Elena Satine Joins Netflix Live-Action Series

    The “Cowboy Bebop” live-action series at Netflix is adding another player to its cast. Elena Satine, whose previous TV credits include ABC’s “Revenge” and Starz’ “Magic City,” has joined previously announced cast members John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda, and Alex Hassell. Satine’s will play Julia who is described as “a sultry beauty with a voice [...]

  • Mary J. Blige

    Mary J. Blige to Produce Drug Queenpin Drama in Development at USA Network

    Mary J. Blige is attached to executive produce a drama series in development at USA Network, Variety has learned. The project is titled “Philly Reign.” Inspired by the life of Thelma Wright. From suburban housewife to drug queenpin in under five years, the death of Wright’s husband left her two choices: let her family starve or [...]

  • Killing Eve Schitts Creek

    For Awards, the Divide Between U.S., Global TV Shows Is Blurred Thanks to Streaming

    Back in May, “Killing Eve” killed it at the BAFTA TV awards, winning the drama series prize as well as best actress for Jodie Comer and supporting actress for Fiona Shaw. “Killing Eve” is a phenomenal show, and deserves the accolades it has received, including a Golden Globe earlier this year for star Sandra Oh. [...]

  • AI Technology David Beckham

    How AI Tech Is Changing Dubbing, Making Stars Like David Beckham Multilingual

    David Beckham does not speak Arabic, Hindi or Mandarin. But when the soccer legend starred in a PSA for malaria awareness this spring, he effortlessly switched among these and six other languages, thanks to cutting-edge technology that could soon change how Hollywood localizes its movies and TV shows. The PSA in question was produced with technology [...]

  • The Daily Show Trevor Noah BTS

    Emmys: Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of Late Night

    They’re the names that fly by when the credits roll. But every member of the production staff on a late-night talk show is a foot soldier waging a daily battle against time and limited resources to make the show come alive. Whether the series is a freight train that runs Monday through Friday or a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content