Megan Penn Didn’t Like the Scripts She Was Reading so She Wrote Her Own

A career in Hollywood can often seem like a faraway dream, but some ladies are taking the industry into their own hands.

Megan Penn recently wrote and acted in her own play, Bygone Girl. But that’s not all. She’s also got a book of her own poetry coming out soon.

“It’s called Memoirs of A Broken Heart,” she said. “It’s a bunch of poems about love and life and time, and moments. And tragic love. That’s a recurring theme. I’m a very proactive, positive person, but I understand the darker side of life.”

Speaking of the darker side of life, Megan also mentioned howbleak it can get for women looking for interesting roles in Hollywood. Instead of waiting around to find the perfect script, Megan explains why and how she wrote her own play.

What are you up to today, these days?

I’m getting ready to go back home to New York tomorrow. I’m going to New York to work on my poetry book, and another project I’m working on is 100 Naked Women, with Nadia Lee Cohen.

Do you find that you fall into certain roles more depending on whether you’re in Los Angeles or New York?

As far as being an actress, there are more opportunities in Los Angeles. As far as being an artist, which is what I am at the end of the day, there’s a bit more of an openness in New York. Here — in LA — there’s a specific way that people go about doing things.

When did you start acting?

I’ve been writing and acting since I was young. But I never thought writing would be something I do professionally. And then at a certain point, I found that roles for women as an actress are pretty one-dimensional. So then I thought, why not do it myself?

What’s Bygone Girl about?

It’s about a girl in love with men in eras that don’t exist. They meet in a bar, really dive-y, and this couple meets, and she’s this very Sunset Boulevard, Lana Del Rey, Betty Page kind of woman. And she’s there being herself. He finds her there. They share a really beautiful connection, but it doesn’t last. It’s very much an ode to Old Hollywood, and all the historic places here.

Were you inspired by Los Angeles itself?

Definitely. I moved to LA when I was 18. I always felt like I identified with New York, but I was really attracted to old Hollywood glamour. I find a lot of falsity in LA, but very drawn to the old Hollywood aspect of it.

Where was the first place you lived when you moved to LA?

It was an apartment on Cherokee, right next to the post office where Bukowski had his job. It was a little tiny shoe-box apartment, and I felt like such an adult.

Do you write specifically for the stage?

The reason I define myself as an artist first, I don’t want to limit myself to one medium. Bygone Girl is a 50 page play, but I set out to write it out at as a screenplay. I locked myself in my apartment, and wrote the whole thing in the weekend. It will be a film. But my work kind of organically comes to me, and then presents to me what it’s going to be. But ultimately, I want people to connect to an emotion in my work. And I want women, above all, to see my work, because, especially in Bygone Girl, the character is both strong, and vulnerable, and sexy, and kind of abrasive. I’m so tired of being like, okay, this how you look, this is what you’re going to play. I think that all women are silly, and sexy, and strong, and funny. We are so layered, and I hate that in general, we’re compartmentalized into these boxes.

Which female characters really inspire you?

This performance that Gena Rowlands did in Woman Under the Influence. All the John Cassavates stuff. Marilyn Monroe in Don’t Bother to Knock, which is a really obscure film. And then Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, because of how much she clung to her dreams. You’re very much taken into their world and their presence. Not only in characters, but in people.

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