I was never the mainstream’s definition of desirable.I don’t look like anybody in this room.
This thought defined my education years. This led to my shyness from anything social. Why won’t anyone say hi to me? Maybe they don’t get me? Why does that dude get all the girls? 18,000 followers later I’m not much different than who I was in middle school. Though smarter (debatable), my look at life has somewhat stayed constant: there are more opportunities in the world than what you see before you, no one is any more or less important than you are, and the pot holes in the road shouldn’t faze you from the fact that there is more stretches of road ahead.
Years later, judging by who you’re asking, I am on the brink of breaking into Hollywood. You won’t find me in Variety or in most blogs, but I’m content with the current route. I am a celebrity interviewer, screenwriter (aspiring for now), and accomplished entertainment events producer (inspiring for now) who enjoys the occasional red carpet and interview. I’ve booked some of the biggest creatives in the industry to tell their stories in front of audiences, such as Lauren Shuler Donner (producer, Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse), James Foley (director, House of Cards), GoharGazazyan (casting director, The Walking Dead), Alan Wenkus (Academy Award-nominated writer and producer, Straight Outta Compton), and over 60 other creatives making Holly-world go ‘round. I get to do so from the comfort of my home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, before my itinerary-less trip to Los Angeles and New York City three or four times a year (each). The accomplishments seemed as unattainable as a unicorn during my childhood.
I’ve always had a passion for enabling other people’s passions. Sure, producing events was my way of connecting to Hollywood execs myself, but over time it’s allowed others to connect, be it meetings or continued communications with guest speakers. It was my avenue of getting to know the insiders without screaming “Hey, I’m a desperate writer!” from the gate. While this has helped my Twitter and Instagram followers and all – which are oh so important in business – the path has seen its dark days of loneliness, fear, and indecision.
I’m not like a lot of other guys. Among tall, dark, and handsome I fit 1.5 of the description. My six pack is more like a keg and I was never that muscular. Going to schools that were dominantly white and blackI was kind of just…in the crowd.So, there I was in a smart kids’ middle school choosing my electives. Growing up, I was a constant liar and was told I had a knack for storytelling, so English was the only subject I excelled at. Or, should it read “the only subject in which I excelled”? Regardless, all other subjects didn’t matter to me at this point. It came down to Orchestra – which I played in the 5th grade and secretly hated – and Acting. At the time, I really wanted to be an actor. I was ready to sign up and break out from my shell. Maybe this could help me talk to girls more. Then, reality hit. No one looks like me on TV. Yet, orchestra is filled with Asians, even the ones on the waiting list. So, I made my decision. I had to play my part in society. I was last chair for most of my three years in middle school.
At that time, I let the world dictate my decisions. I think it’s so easy for people to hit their default button when the fear of the unknown makes itself present. I didn’t quite fit in anywhere. I didn’t score the grades my fellow Asians did nor did I listen to the emo bands the white kids did. I never attended social gatherings or dances and wasn’t really invited to any birthday parties. I was simply floating by. I spent middle school being a class clown and hiding in the shadows at the same time. While everyone excelled at academics, I doodled stories and quotes in my binders because, truth be told, I could never solve for x. Still, I didn’t quite have a true passion yet, just hobbies. The universe was more susceptible to my creativity in high school. While attending a Health and Sciences Academy in high school to pursue a medical career (of course), a group of teachers called me up for a meeting. Hey wanted me in Honors English. Yes, my imagination was that good. Sophomore year I demolished all writing assignments. Grammar I could care less about. For me, it was all about the story. In the final week of class, it was time for the final skit of the year. Everyone loved my skits so it was my duty to go balls to the wall with this presentation. Lo and behold, these presentations were based on folklore. I wrote myself as the lead in this because…why not. At the end of the laughter, Mrs. Schwartz stopped the class and said, “Kids, mark my words. You’ll be seeing Erman hosting SNL one day.” It’s been ten years since that statement but I’m holding her to it. Come college, I would ace my screenwriting class, garnering a rare 100 in the final and being paid to ghostwrite others’ scripts which also scored 100. I took it as some sort of sign. I went to a Christian college so it must have been.
Faith can be questions when navigating the roads of entertainment. I’ve experienced crazy times and I’m not even fully “broken in” yet. Some nights in LA I’d have to choose between a cheap motel and a warm meal. Then, one day, it all made sense.
Rest of this article can be found in the May edition of Vents Magazine.