Stephanie Liss

Stephanie Liss is prolific writer of television movies and miniseries, and was one of the few women writers working in television movies and miniseries during the time in which she was building her career – a successful career spanning over thirty years in television and theatre. Although born and raised in NY, her family moved to Los Angeles, immediately following her Junior High School graduation, but Stephanie longed for New York, and after early graduation from high school, and acceptance at NYU TISCH SCHOOL OF THE ARTS, THEATRE PROGRAM, she was back home in NY, as one of the two youngest students ever to attend Tisch. Because there was no playwrighting program at Tisch at that time, Stephanie trained in the acting world. In that training, Stephanie learned more about writing, than she ever could have dreamed. She studied with the best… The great Lloyd Richards, director of RAISIN IN THE SUN,  Omar Shapli, of Second City, Peter Kass, director of THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEIN’S WINDOW, Andre Gregory, of the famed MANHATTAN PROJECT’S ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Olympia Dukakis, and on, and on, and on… That training shaped the writer she became…

After graduation, Stephanie remained in NY for a year, before moving back to LA, vowing to return home to NY, as soon as possible. As destiny would have it, Stephanie’s career as a writer took off soon after, and she found herself happily entrenched and rooted in the world of television movies and miniseries. Still in her early twenties, Stephanie learned and grew on the job, making her bones, as she says, in the arena of movies based on truth, and hard hitting issues.  She had the great privilege and honor of working with some of the finest, most revered, producers in television.  In their notes’ sessions, Stephanie learned the art and craft of writing, one of the most important lessons being – good notes make better writers. If the notes aren’t right, don’t make the changes. Even during that time, Stephanie’s approach to her work was unique.  In order to be able to create the most realistic and wrenching portrayals, Stephanie knew she had to live her stories. If the story was about the Children of Skid Row – as was the first movie she sold to CBS television, Marion Rees Productions – she moved into a flop house on Skid Row,  until she had a feel and a sense of the children, and the place. That Skid Row script was the beginning of her journey of research as an integral part of her work. And it was the beginning of her career, as she became known for tackling the subjects that no one else was willing to explore.  And even though young, she was the only woman tackling these projects in this way.

As the stories and subjects became more complex and dangerous, she was often told she could not do the kind of research for which she was becoming known, but she never heard the word, no. The more impossible the job, the more she thrived on it, often calling herself, an adrenalin junkie, for the work took Stephanie into the dark places of the world. In order to breathe life into the scripts, and make them real and often haunting, the research took Stephanie from the streets of Skid Row, to the farms and cattle ranches of Oklahoma and Kansas, the inside of the KU KLUX KLAN, Klan cross burnings and family meetings in Idaho, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Illinois, and the ARYAN NATIONS and CHRISTIAN IDENTITY survivalist training camps in the hills of the Dakotas, to the WAR IN LEBANON, underground with HAMAS, PLO, YASSER ARAFAT, MAHMOUD ABBAS,  AL AQSA, to the CHILDRENS TERRORIST TRAINING CAMPS at Arafat’s compound, in Tripoli Lebanon, and the IDF CAMP overlooking Beirut, during the war.  She lived and traveled  with the MASAI in Kenya, and went into the CONGO with JEWISH WORLD WATCH, to the women and children who were raped, and used as weapons of war, and the CHILD SOLDIERS, both in their soldier camps, as well as the private debriefing centers, where they were housed, after having been brought back for rehabilitation. All of these…

All of these have been because of the kind of writer, Stephanie is.  She has always been welcomed onto the set of her television movies, and has gone on location with them, overseas as well as around the streets of Los Angeles.

It takes a great deal to have a movie  greenlit, and Stephanie has had eight movies made so far, in the course of her career. Among those are some of which she is most proud, and feels most privileged, to have been asked to write –

SECOND SERVE – THE RENEE RICHARDS STORY –  CBS – starring Vanessa Redgrave as the famed tennis pro/acclaimed eye surgeon, directed by Anthony Page. This was the first television movie about transsexuals, and the first to bring the struggle of the trans world, to an American audience. In order to get a sense of it all, Stephanie became Renee Richards’ shadow. She followed Renee onto the tennis court, into the operating room, into the trans world, and spent time with Renee at her home in Connecticut. It was an extraordinary journey, both as a writer, and as a woman. Seeing it all through Renee’s eyes… This movie was nominated for a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and Vanessa was nominated for an Emmy. Stephanie received the WOMEN IN FILM LUMINAS AWARD, for the outstanding portrayal of a woman ….