Gil Hizon ’01: Big Dreams for the Small Screen

Gil Hizon ’01: Big Dreams for the Small Screen

If film is a director’s medium, the current thinking goes, then television is a writer’s. Aaron Sorkin, David Chase, Shonda Rhimes, Vince Gilligan, Lena Dunham — these are the names that command attention in Hollywood these days. And if Gil Hizon ’01 realizes his dream, his will one day be added to the list.

An aspiring television writer currently residing in Los Angeles, Hizon is a living example of the Fairfield community staking a claim on the West Coast — and in one of the most precarious professions. But Hizon, a writer who recently won a coveted spot in the CBS Writers Mentoring Program, is up for the challenge and credits his experience at Fairfield for solidifying his determination.

Hizon, originally from the Philippines, has a history of trusting his instincts. A visit to Fairfield during a college tour — almost as an afterthought — was all he needed to feel a connection. “I remember how beautiful the Fairfield campus looked, and literally, that’s when I decided I wanted to go,” he recalled. One of his fondest college memories is of sliding down the snow-covered hill behind his Kostka Hall dorm on cafeteria trays.

Though he started off as a computer science major, Hizon switched to a major in psychology, found that a better fit, and soon was double-majoring in psychology and theatre. He also got involved in the Glee Club, Theatre Fairfield, and the On the Spot improv group. A one-act play Hizon wrote, Chosen Ones, was produced by Theatre Fairfield as part of a student festival, which helped solidify his interest. “That’s when I knew writing would be a huge part of my life,” he said.

As exhilarating as he found his other studies, it was the experience with improv that struck a chord. To continue his pursuits in this area after graduation, Hizon moved to Chicago where he started work as an administrative assistant in a non-profit organization while earning a degree in television writing and producing from Columbia College Chicago. He worked for a while as a promo producer for a creative agency and tried fashion design. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that writing was his passion, and his time at Fairfield had taught him to be true to that.

And so, four years ago, he finally began to pursue television writing and says that to this day, “what is important and what continues to be important is that I’m pursuing something I love.”

He has scored a notable toehold in a slip- pery industry. The CBS Writers Mentoring Program is meant to prepare writers of diverse backgrounds for a possible job on the staff of the writers’ room of a television show. Providing access to both mentorship from current television professionals and workshops in the craft of writing for series, it aims to enhance its writers’ brands and help them get television agents or managers.

Even with this credit to his name, Hizon is aware that he’s up against steep odds. “Listen,” he said, “television is a super tough industry to break into.” What matters most, he’s realized, is being able to “keep going in spite of all the hardships, loneliness, and rejections.”

What advice does he have for other prospective television writers from Fairfield? Make sure it’s what you want to do, first and foremost. “If writing for television is the one thing that you know you’d be good at, and you can’t see yourself doing anything else with your life, then pursue the television writing career with all your might,” Hizon offered. He laughed and added, “I’m still pursuing it!”

Besides his involvement with the program, Gil is actively working with a production company on a pitch for a TV series, and completing another writing sample to deliver to his agents. That’s what it takes at this stage: keeping many plates spinning in the air. But his experience at Fairfield has taught him well, and his commitment to his dream remains Stag tough.

“Make no mistake,” he said. “I’m in this for the long haul.”