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How A Mentorship Became A Two-Way Street

When Brian McDonald, a screenwriter, teacher and author was living in Seattle in the mid-90s, he says that, while talented, he had seen about 15 years of closed doors as far as his career was concerned.

Knowing that the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson also lived in Seattle, Wilson had dreams of one day meeting him and learning from him.

When a chance meeting outside of a movie theater actually happened, it ended up being more than he ever could have hoped for.

Wilson gave McDonald his telephone number, and conversations and exchanges became more regular. After McDonald shared his short film "White Face" with Wilson, McDonald says Wilson began treating him like a peer.

But what McDonald ended up taking away from this budding mentorship was not what he expected. He figured that he would be learning about story structure and the craft of writing, but instead learned how Wilson’s genuine humanity for others ended up being the greatest tool for success. And, McDonald says, Wilson in turn ended up learning a lot from him.

McDonald sat down for a conversation with 88.5’s Jennifer Wing to talk about his experience with August Wilson.

Listen to the full speech from August Wilson from 2002.