lily mercer​ 

Writer, Actor, Adventurer

all about lily

        One of twelve children from a humble family in Kentucky, Lily Mercer’s father overcame the odds and went on to become a Kentucky State Representative, while still maintaining close ties with his family. As a result, Lily grew up a cross between Honey Boo-Boo and Kate Middleton. One week she would be visiting her cousins and using the outhouse; the next week she'd be eating dinner with the governor at a political fund raiser. Her world view broadened further when she was chosen to be a Goodwill Ambassador for Youth through the 4H Club, and spent a summer touring eight countries in Europe.

       Her childhood instilled in her a fascination with the world, and the diversity of people, which turned into a passion for acting. She moved to New York and attended the prestigious Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. After completing the program, she worked extensively as an actor and director for fifteen years, then began to teach. While working as an adjunct professor in Arizona, she founded a small theatre, the Actors Repertory Theatre of Sedona (the A.R.T.S.). At the A.R.T.S. Lily developed ground-breaking programs including the New Growth Play Series for emerging playwrights, and the A.R.T.S. Academy, for professional training. Ultimately Lily embraced her love of writing, applied to the NYU/Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing, and upon graduation in 2012 with a concentration in film, received the Charles Purpura Award for overall excellence.

       Soon after graduation Lily moved to Los Angeles and embraced her new career. Since 2016 she has won the ISA Fast Track Fellowship, the Vancouver Women in Film Festival Best Screenplay, and advanced in several national competitions including the Nicholl Fellowship, the Austin Film Festival, CineStory TV Fellowship, the PAGE Awards, and the Creative World Awards. Her success garnered her the honor of being named as one of the “Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2018” by the ISA (International Screenwriters Association).

In 2019 Lily fell in love with Virginia while attending the Richmond International Film Festival, where she was an official screenwriting finalist in two categories. She was offered a position teaching at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia and decided to move cross country. Currently she lives in Richmond, Virginia and works privately as a story doctor.


        "After spending years as a working actor, theatre director, and producer, I became frustrated with the lack of women's voices in the business.  I decided to pursue a career as a writer and was accepted to the Department of Dramatic Writing at NYU/Tisch.  When I embraced my writing “hobby," my intent was to focus on the things I was sure of – that an authentic character was the most important element of any story, and that watching relationships unfold is the magnet that keeps the audience engaged.  Simply put, I write about ordinary people leading complicated lives. My kind of people.


        I was very fortunate to have been trained at Tisch. Writers there are taught all genres: theatre, film and television, which opened up a world of possibilities.  As a result, I have plays that have been produced in New York, California and Texas: screenplays that have been optioned; and award-winning TV pilots.

        So that's what I do now.  I write.  And I am extremely grateful that my change in careers has been rewarded.  My work has been recognized by the Page Awards, Creative World Awards, the Nicholl Fellowship, Austin Revolution, and the International Screenwriters Association - to name a few." 

You'll never guess what I'm doing now

The summer of 2019 I got a job teaching Screenwriting at a university in Virginia. I packed up my belongings and my two cats and moved the 2500 miles cross country (which could have been an episode of I Love Lucy, but I digress).  I taught for one semester before my world, and everyone else's, changed dramatically. So there I was in Richmond, Virginia, wondering what would happen next.

 I'm like a lot of other people - when the Corona Virus came along, I didn't think it would last long. I felt lucky that I had enough savings to keep me going for few months, so I hunkered down, ate a lot of cake (my personal comfort food), watched a lot of TV, and waited until I could go back to acting, directing, and writing, which was how I made a living. When it became clear the quarantine wasn't going to end for a while, I started to panic. I was recently divorced, now with no savings left, and no family I could call on for help. In other words, I had nothing to fall back on.

But that was a lie. I had myself to fall back on. I had a lot of creativity, time, energy, and a sewing machine. Inspired by Project Runway, I started making hats (something else I love to design). Unfortunately, hats - at least the kind I was making - require a fitting. So now what? Then a friend (thank you, Doug!) reminded me that 20 years ago I made Christmas stockings to give to my friends as holiday gifts. In fact, he sent me a picture to illustrate how well they held up. I was surprised - and a little honored - that his family had passed those down from generation to generation. So I started making Christmas decor.

Soon I added something that I have made all my life - desserts! Check out the website and go to the page for Lily's Sweet Shoppe.  Maybe you'll find something there you'd like.

But whatever you do, stay well.

Lily Mercer Designs