The following reflection was written by first year psychology major Bella Castro. Bella works as a library student assistant in the Outreach Department.
At our most recent Faculty Pub Night, Kristin Doidge, senior lecturer of public relations (College of Communication and Fine Arts), discussed her newest book, “Nora Ephron: A Biography.” Doidge began with a slideshow presentation explaining why she wrote the book. During her time as a student at USC, she needed a subject for her master’s thesis. She already knew that she wanted to write about a female director. Doidge expressed that she has prior knowledge of Nora Ephron as the writer and filmmaker of popular movies such as “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Once she began her research, Doidge posed two questions that she thought would help to introduce her to the subject of her novel. Those two questions were, “who was Nora Ephron?” and “what makes her work stand the test of time?” Ephron was a beloved journalist and filmmaker who sadly passed ten years ago due to complications from a blood disorder. Ephron left behind five to six decades of writing. Doidge centered on the fact that all of Ephron’s work was resilient. During her time in the industry, Ephron was nominated for three Academy Awards for screenwriting, as well as for a Tony Award. Ephron was also known for being a feminist journalist in the 1960s.
Doidge started to secure key interviews as well as analyze archives and important research about who Nora Ephron truly was. All Doidge needed after that was a sticky note and a whiteboard, and from there Act I began. Doidge laid out Ephron’s life in three acts, each act featuring the highs and lows of Nora Ephron. This helped Doidge map out and eventually execute her plan for writing. Doidge worked with esteemed writers, researchers, and colleagues of Nora Ephron. She stated that Ephron’s colleagues were extremely helpful and willing to share special moments and pictures that they shared with Nora.
It was not until about the age of 50 that Ephron decided she wanted to become a film director. Despite being a filmmaker, Nora Ephron was a journalist at heart. Ephron encouraged truth and hope throughout her writing. She made people feel loved, not lonely. “Don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind.” This quote stuck with Doidge as she discovered what it was that she wanted to pursue throughout life. Nora Ephron encouraged students to understand the messy aspects of life and to not be afraid of change, because after all, change leads to growth.
Ephron’s childhood was not easy. She struggled with both of her parents suffering from alcoholism. Her parents, Henry Ephron and Phoebe Ephron, were also screenwriters. They taught Nora a great deal about the industry, and Doidge believes that they are the reason Nora wrote in such a comedic and light manner. Doidge stated that Nora’s life was centered around honoring her parents’ legacy. Before Nora transitioned her career to being a filmmaker, she was a journalist. Ephron simply wanted to write about women. She spent years working for the NY Post as well as Esquire.
Once we transitioned to the question and answer segment of Faculty Pub Night, Doidge expressed that she had done research on important filmmakers who had already had books written about them, while none had been written about Nora Ephron yet. Doidge knew that Nora Ephron was someone that deserved to be studied and celebrated. She spent five to six years interviewing and analyzing as well as three to four years writing. Doidge took her time and truly captured the resilient and profound woman that was Nora Ephron. Finally, after seven years of researching and writing, Doidge finished her book.
For more information and details be sure to watch the recorded version of our Faculty Pub Night featuring Professor Kristin Doidge and her book, “Nora Ephron: A Biography.” Also, be sure to read this extremely well-written book that examines the life of the late, yet beloved Nora Ephron, a woman who spoke for women.