Eva Nagorski talks to Viva Castellarin
Seated in the corner entrance table at the Starbucks café, drinking hot tea to ease her fluish cold, Eva Nagorski’s eyes glittered. She spoke of her challenging career as a young woman involved in film, television, theater and journalism. Each vocation – as challenging as the next – de-manded a highly competitive spirit of survival!
For a young American woman, she has lived and traveled overseas extensively and was educated in different countries: Hong Kong, the former Soviet Union, Italy, Germany, Poland and USA. Therefore, she grew up bilingual, speaking Polish and English at home. In addition, along the way she picked up some Italian, German and Russian.
„That’s because my father worked as a foreign correspondent for Newsweek and we had a very cosmopolitan … very international upbringing,” Eva stated with a smile. Her mother, Christina, grew up in Czestochowa, Poland, and her father, Andrew also had an international upbringing due to his Polish American parents’ profession. After 22 years of living abroad, her parents moved back to America just under a year ago and live in Pelham, New York.
„My Mom and Dad would pack us up and we’d move to my father’s next job destination. There are four of us kids – Sonia – 28, Adam 20 and in his third year at Amherst College and Alex who is 12. And always there was a dog in our home. So every move was a lot of work.
We never felt we didn’t have a home — home was always where we were together. We are a very close family and today I admit, my parents are the closest people to me. We hang out as if I would with any of my other friends. They come to parties I throw and I often go to their dinner parties at home”.
Recalling her days at Bowdoin College where she majored in history, Eva graduated in 1992. While she was in school, she started a Polish Relief Fund in ’89 to send clothes and other material goods to Poland. Then she spent one semester at the University of California in San Diego and then another semester at the University of Wroclaw in Poland as an exchange student in the Fall of 1990. One summer, she also participated in the community of the kibbutz spending time at Kibbutz Misgav Am. in Qiryat Shermona, Israel, as a volunteer.
Her world of films
In the spring of 1992, after graduation, Eva took a job as assistant to Academy Award Winner – Director Andrzej Wajda on his movie, The Ring with the Crowned Eagle in Warsaw, Poland.
„It was an incredible experience working with one of the greatest international filmmakers in the world – he’s very kind and made an effort to keep me as involved in the whole process as possible. For me, it was definitely a different experience to witness filmmaking in Eastern Europe and what they are able to accomplish on budgets which were unheard of in the West.”
Returning to America, Eva headed to Los Angeles, where she worked at International Creative Management (ICM) – a prominent entertainment agency in Hollywood, before deciding that LA was not the place for her at that time. She returned to the East Coast, just in time for a second summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, before heading back to Poland again.
In December 1994, she became the co- director of New Scenario Competition and arranged running the nationwide screenplay contest in Warsaw, Poland for which film director Agnieszka Holland (director of „The Secret Garden” and „Europa, Europa”) was the presiding juror.
A year later she was back in New York as the production coordinator at the Reader’s Digest’s U.S. Video and TV division. Her job was to review incoming proposals for potential production. She acted as informal liaison between the executive producer and other departments, keeping track of all productions in progress. Again, she found herself becoming more immersed in her own writing and left the job to find more time to do just that.
By 1995, she started working with Polish-born writer Janusz Glowacki (known for Hunting Cockroaches), whose works she greatly admires. Together they wrote the film script, No-Smoking Section and she translated his screenplays, Antigone in New York, Three Pretty Sisters, The Lost Theater of K (about Taduesz Kantor) and his latest theatrical play, The Fourth Sister.
In the meantime, she has also written her own film scripts.
„Janusz Glowacki’s one of the funniest people I know. He’s also one of my favorite writers because he has this incredible knack to make you laugh and cry at the same time because he’s able to write the raw, ironic truth that goes on in people and their emotions. He’s got this brilliant black humor – which very few writers have – that is a specific kind of unique talent”.
At the same time, she began her collaboration with the highly reputable Nantucket Film Festival and is currently beginning her sixth year as the Screenplay Competition Director for this annual festival, one of the few film festivals which specifically celebrates screenwriters and their craft.
Her world of theatre
As an actor and a literary associate, Eva spent two summers at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, which included dramaturgy, coordinating special events including directing (such as Kabuki theater) and acting.
Prior to Williamstown, she had been acting all throughout high school and college. She wrote several one-act plays, which were performed at her college and acted in many roles. After graduation, she wrote the play „What’s Life Unspoken” and also acted in the production at the Village Gate Theater in New York.
That was just on the heels of her experience as assistant to Director Stephen Collins on „The Old Boy” by A. R. Gurney during the summer of 1992 in New York.
Her world of journalism
Her pure love of writing drew her to contribute freelance articles to various publications, particularly Polish newspapers in the U.S. and in Poland. She is a freelance writer for Polish Daily News (Nowy Dziennik) – the largest daily newspaper in America, and also wrote and edited articles for New Horizon, an English language monthly magazine. During her time in Poland, she was a regular contributor to Warsaw Voice, (writing mainly in arts and culture), the only English language newspaper in Poland.
One of her most exciting experiences as a journalist was the year she worked as senior editor of Notorious Magazine.
„It was a start-up magazine for women and men, focusing on relationships, romance and sexuality. My job was to write, solicit and edit stories, and assist in launching the nationwide, glossy bi-monthly, which published four issues (200,000 distribution). It was a real hands-on experience, since there would be times we would be working all night before hitting the press and I definitely was able to write my fair share of articles. Also, I got some of the wildest, unpublishable letters to the editor due to the subject matter of the magazine. It was awesome experience!”
Her next move was with Golden Books Inc, a children’s publishing house. While working there, she published two children’s books: Poky’s Bathtime Adventure (a touch and feel book) and Facepainting.
Her world of television
EVA with DICK WOLF, Executive Producer & Creator of NBC’s TV series „LAW & ORDER” for whom she wrote: „Law & Order, Special Victims Unit”, „NBC Fall 2000 TV Series „DEADLINE”, and „ARREST & TRIAL”
Most recently, Eva Nagorski worked as staff writer on Dick Wolf’s NBC TV program series „Deadline”, which had an all-star cast of Oliver Platt, Bebe Neuwirth, Tom Conti, Lili Taylor and Hope Davis. But unfortunately, NBC had to cancel the show after five episodes aired and her first episode was due to air the week after the cancellation took place!! That’s the risk with American TV and despite Dick Wolf’s tremendous reputation, the Fall series had a terrible time slot, bang up against Monday Night Football, Alley McBeal and Everyone Loves Raymond – the most popular primetime programs listed in 2000!
There was a spark of disappointment in her eyes, but then it faded as she confessed, „It had been great working with Dick Wolf and being part of a high-end show.
I worked with a great team of writers and I was very lucky to get the job. People wait lifetimes to get my kind of position – even if for the moment. It was worth every moment.”
She explained that the TV series cast Oliver Platt as Wallace Benton, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for a New York tabloid modeled on the New York Post. Neuwirth (Frasier) played Wallace’s high-strung editor, while Conti took on the role of the powerful owner of the newspaper.
Before this TV series, Eva had written episodes for Dick Wolf’s „Law & Order – Special Victims Unit”. Her first episode was entitled, „Russian Love Poem” and dealt with the Russian Mafia in New York. It was the third highest rated TV show of the season.
Living in New York for five years now, Eva does enjoy going back to Europe often. She just returned from a week in Amsterdam, one of her favorite European cities, and often makes a point of visiting Poland. For now she plans to remain in Manhattan, though her agents want her to move to Los Angeles.
„New York has so much life, so many international vibes, it’s one of the only places in America I could live in at this stage in my life. You can hide out here if you want Or you can go out and meet anyone and everyone!
I’ve got tons of friends here, doing everything from dancing and singing on the Broadway stage to working at law firms, to independent filmmakers making their own films, and even those erotic ladies of the night! Of course, there are those days the New York crowds make you crazy and you need to escape. But New York’s got a beat that’s nowhere else.”
As a young woman who is standing on the threshold of her life, living in the world’s most exciting city, working in one of the most creative careers, Eva plans to take each challenge as it come. She is aware that it demands incredible determination to succceed, but she is also fully aware of the heartbreak and sacrifices ahead. That’s the secret of her success!