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After graduating from high school, Willena yanked up her Southern roots and transplanted herself to Los Angeles, graduating with a degree in theater from UCLA and going to work in the film industry. This was fairly ironic given her introverted nature. Theater and filmmaking demand high degrees of collaboration that do not come naturally to her. But she had been side-tracked into theater because at ten years old she had been told “No one can make a living as a writer. There is a reason you hear about the stereotype of the poet starving in a garret.” She may have been the only young adult ever to believe that a theater degree would lead to a more secure future than an English degree!
She did make her living in the film industry for quite awhile, both in California and back in Georgia, where she returned for family reasons. Although casting television and movies had been quite fun, she was dissatisfied with supporting roles in the film industry. Eventually, she decided to go to grad school to see if she could learn to write anything that anybody would want to read and if making a living as a writer was possible. Although she now realizes the answer to both questions is yes, she finds herself addicted to a consistent paycheck and health insurance. She combines her writing with teaching English and theater at a junior college in Georgia.