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Inside the Office of ‘UnReal’ Creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro

Decorated with pillows knit by her great-grandmother and rugs from home in Portland, Ore., the office of “UnReal” showrunner Sarah Gertrude Shapiro is an ode to her past, before she made it in Hollywood. Lifetime’s critically acclaimed drama is the first show she’s worked on, well, besides “The Bachelor.” Shapiro was a field producer on the reality series’ early seasons, and her dismay for the dating show not only inspired “UnReal,” but also her workspace at Sunset Gower Studios.


“This is my old life,” Shapiro says, of the artwork from her Oregon friends that she keeps as a reminder to stay true to her small-town roots. “After I left ‘The Bachelor,’ I went to Portland and decided I wanted to leave the industry,” she admits. Now she’s back in Hollywood, living her dream. The pink walls, she admits, are out of character. “It’s weird because I’m not a girly girl,” she says. “But I had become so hard and so dead inside. Pink to me symbolizes a healthy life and wanting to be alive.”


Shapiro, who came through AFI, recalls “crying so hard” when “UnReal” won the 2016 Program of the Year award. “That was the biggest thing that’s happened to us so far because of where I came from,” she says. She also showcases her DGA certificate, which she’s joining thanks to Jill Soloway and Lesli Linka Glatter. “I was so happy to be taken into the guild by women.”


“UnReal” is based on her short film “Sequin Raze,” which debuted in 2013 at SXSW. “I had no resources and we were sleeping in this crappy Airbnb,” she recalls. But the film went on to win an award and change the course of her career. “I worked harder than I had in my whole life to get through the festival and get representation for the film and get an agent. I was busting my ass.” She keeps the badge as a reminder. “It’s stained with tequila and tears,” she says.

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