SARAH ANN MASSE
Sarah Ann Masse is a hilarious woman on a mission; not only is she continuing the trend of breaking stereotypes and proving that females are funny, but she does so while drawing attention to the unhealthy social norms and boxes that our society places women in.
Making up half of the hit comedy duo “We Are Thomasse”, Sarah also produces their viral videos and their live sketch show. She has produced, written, and acted with Grammy winner and Broadway actor Jason Mraz; and she is a professional singer and classically-trained actor who ran a successful theatre company in New York City.
Sarah recently wrapped an episode of the award winning, female driven web series Reckless Juliets. She also wrote, produced and starred in the upcoming short film Tristan & Kelly (co-starring British actor Toby Sebastian); and she is the voice of the very popular audiobook series The Chronicles of Kerrigan.
Sarah is an outspoken voice against the patriarchy and rape culture and as one of the first women to come forward with her experience with Harvey Weinstein, is a major figure in the #metoo movement, tirelessly advocating for survivors of sexual assault and harassment.
1. How did you get started in the film industry?
I started out, from a young age, as a performer. I started with ballet, then singing in my church choir, followed a few years later by Shakespeare and musical theatre. That led to more training (The Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School, The Williamstown Theatre festival) and work in theatre. I then started a theatre company in New York City with several friends and was the producing director for four years. Several years later I met the man who would become my husband, Nick Afka Thomas, and we started writing and performing comedy together. I am now an active actor, writer, producer, and comedian... among other things.
2. Tell me about writing for a TV series. What is the process and how is it different from film?
While I don't write for television, I do write episodic material. My sketch comedy duo releases new short form videos online every other week. We have amassed 10 million views over the past two years and some of our most popular material is the episodic Feminist Fairytales and Awkward Exes. When writing episodically, you are always thinking about the evolving arch of the characters and the story. In film, you get a finite amount of time to tell your story, which is exciting and challenging in its own right. I think I am drawn towards writing episodic because it allows me to create a world that can continue to grow so, if six months after a release I get a great idea for a character, I can write something new for them. It's very freeing.
3. You work closely with your husband Nick on creative projects. How did this come about and how is the experience? Any words of wisdom to those looking to work closely with a partner?
Nick and I met through a mutual friend. We chatted about theatre and film and creating and the word "wonder" came up over and over again. He went back to the UK a few days after we met and within a week we had started writing to each other online every day and creating characters for a web series. When I met Nick, I did not consider myself a writer but, by looking over, and "punching up" his old sketches or brainstorming ideas for our web series, I discovered that I had a latent skill. I went from noting his writing, to writing with him, to writing on my own. We work incredibly well together and usually have the same sense of what is funny and what isn't... but when we disagree it can be very explosive! Being partners in all things is a gift I would never give up for anything, but we definitely fight and it isn't all rainbows and butterflies. You are always going to disagree with your creative partner, it's just in our case our creative partners are also our life partners.
4. You have become very involved with the "Times Up" Movement and everything that is happening currently in the world today with gender equality and female empowerment. What has been the most significant thing you have learned since sharing your own personal story?
I learned what I already knew, that by opening oneself up and showing your own truth and vulnerability, you become more capable of helping and reaching others. The community of fellow survivors and those who want to support us has been exceptionally empowering and the conversations I have had with the survivors who have reached out to me in the months following my story have been life changing. My goal now, is to help create public education campaigns regarding trauma, consent, and the nature of coercion. I also want to mentor and encourage creatives who are women, POC, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented communities to create stories that more correctly represent our world. As storytellers we have a unique ability to directly influence and change the culture we live in.
5. What has been your greatest achievement as a screenwriter?
Writing material that makes people laugh, makes people happy, and educates about matters that are truly important.
6. What has been the greatest lesson you've learned during this journey?
To trust myself.
7. What are you currently working on?
I have literally just paused in writing two brand new sketches to answer these questions. I am also in post on a short film I wrote, produced, and starred in called Tristan & Kelly which co-stars the incredibly talented British actor Toby Sebastian (Game of Thrones), and we are in post on a sizzle for a pilot we are hoping to pitch.
8. Finally, if you could share some words of wisdom for a young filmmaker just starting out, what would you say?
I very much feel like I am still a young filmmaker starting out so these words will be just as helpful to me as they will be to them... Tell the stories that excite you and move you. Realize you have an incredible power and gift to change the world. Use whatever privilege and position you may have to lift up the voices of those around you who are less privileged. Be kind. Be gracious. Have fun. Only work with nice people. Look after the people who looked after you. Don't be afraid to ask for help and don't be afraid to celebrate your creations.