Nora Ephron: A tribute and a question
Book cover "I feel bad about my neck"

The cover of one of Nora Ephron's bestselling essay collections

I was saddened to learn of writer Nora Ephron’s death just a few hours after I claimed her as one of my girl crushes on The Writeous Babe Project blog. As I’ve said on several social media outlets already, Ephron showed me that my writing doesn’t have to be limited to one genre. I’ve started writing a memoir that I know will also make a great one-woman show. Ephron turned her love-life into the novel “Heartburn,” and wrote the screenplay for the movie of the same name. She’s probably most famous for penning the movie, “When Harry Met Sally.”

Playwright, filmmaker, director, essayist, memoirist, journalist, wife and mother were all among Ephron’s titles. I don’t have what I consider the head start that she had–I wasn’t born to parents making a living as screenwriters–and my journalism career hasn’t taken me to a full-time staff position at a national magazine yet, but when I think I want to do too much, I think about her, and I start to believe that if I live long enough and don’t give up, it’s possible.

Start to believe. One thing I have to push through to make it to 100% belief is that this kind of life is possible for a black woman, too. Helena Andrews, journalist, author of the memoir, “Bitch is the new Black,” and screenwriter of the movie adaptation, is well on her way to making the answer yes, but she’s the only one I can think of, and that’s in part because we’re still not well represented in film, in print or on stage. As I listened to the tributes to Ephron on The Today Show this morning, I was hearing white men and women say, “She wrote us,” and “She was the voice of a generation of women.” Her movies are the only romantic comedies I actually like, and reading her essay collections has made me laugh and has undoubtedly made me a better writer, but I can’t say she helped more black women’s voices be heard (not that she should have), and given her age, I’m sure her career wouldn’t have happened had she not been white.

Just to be clear: none of this makes me love Nora Ephron’s work any less. And I’m hoping that Helena Andrews, who is also one of my girl crushes, will open some doors, too.


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One thought on “Nora Ephron: A tribute and a question

  1. Excellent tribute and great questions. I too struggle with the idea of wanting to do too much and it is so important to have role models like Nora Ephron to show us that we can accomplish our bold dreams. But there is something about having role models that look like you or that share your background that is even more crucial.

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