Director Allen Sowelle talked with writer Alejandra Okie about FSC, episode 2: “The Story of my Life.”
Now I may know the answer to this, but our viewers won’t, how did you get involved with the series Front Seat Chronicles?
I’m a big fan of the concept behind the series. So many people have had one of those moments talking to a family member or a friend about a life-changing event in their lives so I felt this was a great opportunity to tell a story.
What drew you to that particular subject matter?
The story is not autobiographical but I have known women who become completely paralyzed when contemplating divorce and think that they have to accept and live with their current circumstances.
It is sad to see couples get divorced and families broken apart. But it is also quite upsetting to think that some women will live their entire lives being completely unhappy because they think they can’t do anything to change their situation.
We hear about how earlier generations stuck it out when it came to marriage. Yet today over half dissolve for one reason or another. It seems like it’s a delicate dance between riding it out or living life earnestly, occupying your own happiness. Do you think economic realities have more of an effect on marriages today than 50 years ago, or is it something else?
It’s true that women today have more financial freedom and can make more choices. But being able to get a job doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll feel empowered to get divorced. In addition to money, other issues weigh heavily on the decision to get divorced: breaking the family unit apart, losing a partner, isolation, shame and possibly raising children alone, or sharing or losing custody if there are children in the family.
As the credits roll on “Story of my Life,” for you personally, what do you hope viewers take from it?
I hope that women who are in a similar situation realize that they have options and that they don’t have to be unhappy for the rest of their lives. After all, when one is unhappy, it’s more likely that family and others around you will be unhappy. I hope women in this situation realize that they can reinvent their lives and discover a happier version of themselves after divorce.
As the Latino voice becomes more prominent, more full in the American chorus, what other stories are important to you? And that’s not to marginalize you as a Latina writer – we all know that happens way too often for folks of color already.
I think stories like divorce are somewhat universal—women of any race or ethnicity, or socioeconomic background for that matter, may face this situation. But Latinas and other immigrant women do have unique stories that need to be heard. So many immigrant families find themselves separated because of immigration laws—children growing up far away from parents. And there are immigrant women who suffer abuse but are afraid to get help because they fear getting deported. In farm working communities some families have to take their young children to work with them in the fields where they are exposed to dangerous conditions so they can make ends meet. And an entire generation of immigrant children is running into a brick wall after graduating high school because they cannot attend college in the U.S. even though they grew up in this country. We’re talking about real people and it would make such a big difference if someone was there to listen.
Well let me end with this – it was an honor to collaborate with you Alejandra on this episode. Our two exquisite actors, Veronica Rocha and Jessica Tomé were so solid, made each take – each emotional beat – effortlessly palpable. English and in Spanish. Hopefully they made you proud. We got to do this again, only with you on set, directing.
I agree, the actors really made the story come alive. It’s been a pleasure working with you, Allen. I look forward to watching the next episode.