Laura Alexander Bensick (LA '08) discovered her passion for storytelling as a drama major at Washington University in St. Louis through two quite different writing mediums...
She penned plays, including an autobiographical drama about mental health issues in her family, and she also embraced lighter fare as the romance columnist for Student Life, the independent student newspaper at WashU. Laura went on to earn her MFA in Writing for Screen & Television from USC. Laura’s pilots have placed as the Top Drama in the Tracking Board Launch Pad Pilots Competition, the runner-up in the Script Pipeline TV Writing Contest, and finalists in Austin Film Festival and the PAGE Screenwriting Awards. In 2017, she landed on the Tracking Board’s Young & Hungry List.
Most recently, she developed TV projects with Sony TV and Warner Bros. TV. Currently, Laura is developing family drama Everyday Insanity at Fox with Sterling K. Brown’s Indian Meadows Productions, executive producer Ken Olin, and 20th Century Fox TV.
Everyday Insanity, created by Laura Alexander Bensick, now in development with Fox, is an uplifting drama about three wildly different families who form a "created family" to support each other after their loved ones are diagnosed with mental illnesses. "I'm hoping to portray the reality of these situations," says Bensick, "but also I want to give hope to those who may be struggling or have a loved one who is struggling." Inspired by her own family's experiences, Everyday Insanity shows how their experience has connected them with other families also dealing with mental health issues.
After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, Bensick moved to L.A. to pursue acting and writing, but it quickly became clear that for her, writing was the better fit. She worked a variety of odd jobs over the first few years (apartment rental company, entertainment law firm, nonprofit health clinic) before attending graduate school at USC's School of Cinematic Arts where she received a MFA in Writing for Screen & Television. Since graduating, she worked as an assistant to a TV writer for a couple years while also developing her own shows with production companies and studios. Everyday Insanity is her first network sale. "I believe my time in the PAD had a huge impact on my career today." said Bensick, "It gave me a deep appreciation for the arts, in all forms, encouraged my creative expression, and challenged me to find a way to speak about our world through my writing."
The nights spent in rehearsals were her favorite at WashU – Bensick saw it as an amazing community and safe space for exploring who she was as a person and an artist. For her senior thesis Bensick created a documentary drama play, Life in Paradox, about mental health in her family. Working under the supervision of Carter Lewis and Anna Pileggi she felt inspired to pursue writing professionally. "I'm still so proud of that play and could not have done it without their guidance," said Bensick.
While TV is different from playwriting, according to Bensick, the lessons she learned from Carter Lewis about creating compelling characters, crafting dialogue, and exploring humanity through writing have all been essential to her TV writing. "Theater is so much about collaboration, and television shares that same collaborative nature so I feel very comfortable in it," said Bensick. She noted that she found all of the PAD faculty she studied with to not only be masters of their craft, but also incredibly encouraging and dedicated. "They all went above and beyond to support their students not only in our pursuits at WashU, but also after graduation. I will forever be grateful to them: Carter, Anna, Andrea, Bill, Jeffery, Henry, they all were so important to my time at Wash U and the career that I've now chosen to pursue. I'm lucky to still be in touch with them."