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She brought an unapologetic drawl with her to the theater and dance department at the University of South Carolina, where she earned her degree — and magna cum laude honors — in But it took her move to Los Angeles in for her to fully appreciate and embrace her upbringing. Her first book of comedic essays and sayings, Talk Southern To Me, was so popular the publisher asked for a second one, with Embrace Your Southern, Sugar! Fowler spoke to us from her home in Los Angeles about how "being Southern" has helped steer her career.
Below is an edited transcript of her comments. I was a theater and dance major at the University of South Carolina. Susan Anderson, of course, was my professor. You need to be on Broadway. Concentrate your efforts there. Susan and the other professors were pivotal in my career.
I met my husband Sam Sokolow in New York. I won him over with Southern food. Honey, he was born and raised in New York City. We are the funniest opposite couple ever. He is a television producer and had a job opportunity in Los Angeles. We were long distance while I was still on Broadway. Then we got engaged. I made the decision to leave New York and move to Los Angeles and marry this guy, because love makes you do crazy things.
Then I had to figure out what I was going to do next. I had only ever planned to do Broadway for the rest of my life. I started doing acting classes. I started appearing on some televisions shows. I always wanted to write. I was always a bookworm, even though I was an artist. I was just practicing, to be honest. I sent it to a couple producers for some feedback.
I ended up selling my first screenplay that I ever wrote to a movie studio. But writing that movie gave me confidence. I found my voice as a writer. Being a Southern woman, that irked the fire out of me. Instead of pivoting and writing things more mainstream with broader appeal, which was the advice I was given by everyone in the industry, I did the opposite. I leaned more into my Southern voice.
Southerners need people representing their point of view. We can laugh at ourselves as Southerners. It was an instant hit. I have this beautiful internet community I interact with on a daily basis. The YouTube channel led to the opportunity to write a book. Talk Southern To Me, a collection of Southern stories and quips, was published by Gibbes Smith in to strong reviews and a book tour through the South.
It did so well, the publisher offered a second book contract. Embrace Your Southern, Sugar! It feels to me that we have our own subculture in the South.
The fact that you were raised in the South is your greatest asset in life. The burden that we carry as Southerners is our history. We tend to not get celebrated for the things that we should be a shining example for: hospitality, charm, caring about other people, having a sense of community, being polite for no reason at all. In the book I talk about moving to New York City as a girl who just graduated from the University of South Carolina, and what that experience was like. In my real life, I am a screenplay and television writer. I just adapted a novel Whistling Past the Graveyard into a screenplay.
And I get to teach them on a daily basis about the South. I also find it gets you a lot in life. It hurts my heart when I hear Southerners try to cover up their Southern accents. Lean into it. Celebrate it. I know that. My goal is to create my own sitcom where I get to choose the writers and the actors. My dream is to hit the jackpot and take my sitcom money and move back to South Carolina. My husband, the South can be challenging for him.
He understands the complexities. There are reasons behind our madness. And they love him. But Daddy did have a hard time with me falling in love with this Yankee. Share this Story! Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about.Single women Gaffney
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