Katie Ford wrote for the hit 1980s sitcom Family Ties when she was only 21 years old. Just a fresh-faced Torontonian, she had an LA show-biz lifestyle with all the trimmings. “I was in LA, at Paramount Studios. It was exciting. My parking spot was next to Kirstie Alley’s,” she says. “It was so formative.”
Family Ties was the beginning. She went on to live and work in LA for 27 years, where she wrote for the movie Miss Congeniality, and the TV show Desperate Housewives. More recently, she’s written for Transporter: The Series and Working the Engels.
But she eventually got fed up with LA’s “bullshit notions of ‘making it’” and having hardly any life beyond her career. “LA is all about your career,” she says. “I was always there to do something, and those stakes become your life.”
So, two years ago she packed her bags and her dog with the weird eyebrows and headed home to Toronto, where she connected with Tracey Erin Smith, whose Soulo Theatre Company helps people transform their personal stories into entertaining performances for the stage.
Ford didn’t storm out of LA in a pointless huff, or give up on writing — she’s still working on TV projects — but she wants to reclaim her life by redefining what’s valuable. And maybe let others know that ‘making it’ Hollywood-style is a destructive myth and “whatever your contribution, it’s way more valuable than credits and accolades.”
She also wants to get back in front of a live audience — she started out as a standup comedian — and with Smith’s help, she’s developed a performance. Grounded in show-biz anecdotes and seemingly mundane observations, and mixing insight with humour — she only dated narcissistic women because she enjoyed her alone time — her piece makes the point that success doesn’t need to be Oscars and Emmys. There’s value in trying alone.
Appropriately titled The Value of Trying, her work will be part of Soulo NYC, Soulo’s much-anticipated road trip to New York City. It’s a four day event, beginning with workshops on performing your story, culminating in an evening of performances by six of Smith’s top Toronto protégés.