Alumna switches career path from journalism to screenwriting

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Photo Used With Permission From Mia Karr

HHS alumna Mia Karr poses in her cap and gown for her college graduation. Karr attended Harvard University, and she is currently pursuing screenwriting.

Harrisonburg High School alumna Mia Karr originally wanted to pursue journalism as a career, but she switched to screenwriting in her senior year at Harvard University. She was introduced to journalism by the newspaper in high school, and she enjoyed it because it was a way for her to write intriguing stories about the world around her. 

“I love writing in many [different] forms and storytelling. I kind of was introduced to [journalism] through the Newsstreak. It seemed like a really great outlet available to me to get to write and tell interesting stories and kind of get to know more about the world around me, and I’ve always loved that about journalism. I continued to pursue [journalism] in college which was also a really great experience,” Karr said. 

Ever since Karr was young, she’s always been interested in having a career that involved writing. She then found out about journalism and pursued that through high school and most of college. When she found out about screenwriting, she thought that it was the best for her. 

“I’m still figuring out what I want to do with my life. [For now,] the plan is to pursue screenwriting. I think I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer in some capacity. When I was really young I wanted to write novels and then I thought about journalism, and I think I just discovered that writing screenplays is kind of my favorite way to tell a story,” Karr said. 

Later on in Karr’s college career, she figured out that screenwriting was the best for her because of a screenwriting class she took her first semester of her senior year in college. The class taught her about various paths in the entertainment industry and jobs in that particular field

“[I didn’t decide that I wanted to pursue screenwriting] until my senior year of college which is kind of late in the game compared to a lot of [other] people. I took a screenwriting class that was very influential and taught me a lot about structure, and so that class definitely influenced my decision, and also [in] my senior year I learned about the various paths into the entertainment industry and the various jobs [that] you can have. That kind of showed me [that] there was a path [I wanted to pursue],” Karr said. 

Karr decided to go from pursuing journalism to screenwriting because, despite both of them being challenging careers, she was still very passionate about screenwriting.

“I think both [journalism and screenwriting] are kind of hard to pursue in terms of the job market and lots of people want to do this without there being a ton of jobs. I felt like if I was going to pursue something like that, I had to be extremely passionate about it and [be] ready to pursue it, and I found that I was just more passionate about screenwriting and that’s the thing I was willing to go after despite all the challenges because I just really love it,” Karr said.

Karr finds screenwriting to be a type of fiction writing that can reach more people than journalism can. She does still find journalism to be a good career, but she just does not think it’s best for her due to her introverted personality. 

“I think to be a good journalist you need to be really passionate about reporting in addition to writing. I’ve always been more drawn to the writing side. I’m an introvert, [so I’m] less of a people person so I don’t always love reporting. I also love the creative aspect of getting to make my own stories,” Karr said.  “I think the cool thing about screenwriting as opposed to other types of fiction writing is that you really do have the opportunity to reach so many people and write things that are viewed by so many people which is really cool. I think TV and movies have a very tenable impact on how we view the world and can really be forces for change or just for entertainment as we’ve seen this past year with the pandemic. When people were really struggling to get through this crazy time, [they returned]of returning to sources of entertainment to help them with that,” 

Although Karr now pursues screenwriting, she still might change what she wants to pursue within 10 years. In the end, she would like to end up following a career that involves storytelling and allows her to be creative. 

“I’m still young. There’s some statistic that gets turned around a lot about how you’ll change careers like three times in your life. I think I’m still figuring it out. At this point, I’m about two years out of college, so I honestly am not sure where I’ll be in 10 years. I don’t really see myself going back to journalism necessarily, but I might be doing something else. I think whatever I’m doing hopefully [will] be creative and involve storytelling,” Karr said. 

Karr currently works for a talent industry that helps out screenwriters and directors. This job gives her a better look into the entertainment industry. Her end goal is to write things on her own as a career. 

“Right now I’m an assistant at a talent agency that represents mostly screenwriters and directors, which is cool. I get to get a lot of insight into the entertainment industry and what it’s like to be a working writer. [My] goal is to transition from doing this to actually writing myself as my career. That’s the hope, but it definitely takes a while to break into that typically, and it’s a challenging field,” Karr said.

Some advice Karr would give to someone who wants to change their career but doesn’t know how to approach it is to try out new things and talk to people who are pursuing the career you want to pursue. 

“I think a lot of people in college leave doing something different than they were planning to do when they go in. Thinking about my friends from college, that’s true for a lot of them. It’s important to explore things in college and not get so locked into thinking you’re going to follow one path. You may stay on that path, [or] you may discover that there are other things that you’re passionate about. Not being afraid to try new things is important, [along with] talking to people if you’re interested in a certain career path. Talking to everyone you can who does that job [and asking] how they got started [and] what their advice is and what their challenges are is important,”  Karr said. 

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