CHECK PLEASE! –
Oct. 20, 2020 – The hashtag was born during the first presidential debate, when the incumbent spewed a poisonous—and untrue—tirade about Hunter Biden, a recovering addict. His father, former Vice President and current presidential candidate, Joe Biden, was not rattled. Instead, he rallied to support his son, and all of us recovering from addiction, by first affirming Hunter’s recovery and then stating, “I’m proud of my son.” In the wake of that, there’s been an avalanche of support for people recovering from addiction, much of it in the form of people sharing their own #WeDoRecover stories.
Into this hunger for content comes the short I wrote and starred in, My Dinner with Steve. The film tells the story of Jen, a newly sober, 40-something woman whose divorce has left her shattered. She’s finally landed a date with her teacher crush, but mistakes Googling with familiarity and turns their dinner into an addict’s confessional. We shot it in St. Petersburg, FL, over two days in March, just before the Covid-19 lockdown. Already the movie has been seen all over the world in festivals, with more to come.
My approach to the film was something I’d learned through recovery—I asked for help. I’d never written a film before, let alone acted in and produced one, so I turned to people in the industry for guidance. I’m lucky that several key team members, notably our director Eugenie Bondurant, were early supporters of the project.
The work has been so gratifying that I’ve already written more, a series with recurring characters offering humorous tales to convey serious messages—primarily, that overcoming addiction is not only possible, but just the beginning. One of my greatest fears about getting sober was that it would mean the end of fun. As the recent #WeDoRecover challenge has shown, that’s been far from true for me and countless others. And it made me reflect on why I felt compelled to write these episodes.
First, the longer I’ve stayed sober, the more clearly I’ve seen that sobriety is a gift. It wasn’t bestowed upon me through some kind of deserving behavior, far from it. It was grace alone. Through my recovery, I’ve met many wise, humble, and generous people. Many have given freely of themselves to show me a better life, one free of blackouts, institutions, health crises, destroyed relationships, and enslavement. These interactions are at the heart of the films I want to write. Because no one recovers alone. There is no single wise influencer, leading us all to an Instagram-worthy photo shoot. Our lives continue, in all the mess and glory. But if we stick together, we do recover.