lily mercer​ 

Writer, Actor, Adventurer

“I have been writing my entire life, but I can tell you the moment I decided to become a writer. One afternoon I had an audition for a huge TV show to play a mother. My lines were basically, 'How are the kids? Pass the salt.' I was so angry at that audition, I was literally shaking. It felt like now that I was a woman over the age of 40, I was no longer considered a person. I wasn't auditioning to play a character, I was auditioning to play a prop. So I decided then and there to apply to grad school as a writer, and if I got accepted, I'd take it as a sign. I got accepted."

Lily Mercer

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 remaining firmly attached to his Eastern Kentucky roots. Lily benefited from that bond, growing 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. Her world view broadened further at the age of sixteen, when she was chosen to be a Goodwill Ambassador for Youth by the 4H Club, and spent a summer touring Europe with a group of twenty other eager young people from America.

       Her childhood instilled in her a fascination with the world, and its diversity of people, which turned into a passion for acting. After graduating from the University of Kentucky, she moved to New York and completed a two year program at the prestigious Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. She then worked extensively as an actor and director for fifteen years, teaching both acting and improv on the side. 

       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, and applied to the NYU/Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing. Upon graduation in 2012 with a concentration in film, Lily received the Charles Purpura Award for overall excellence.

       In 2013 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. As a result of her writing success, she was given the honor of being named one of the “Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2018” by the ISA (International Screenwriters Association).

      While attending the 2019 Richmond International Film Festival, where she was an official screenwriting finalist in two categories, Lily fell in love - with Richmond. She was offered a position teaching at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, which she accepted. Covid changed her teaching status, but not her love of Richmond, where she continues to live. Currently she works privately as a screenwriter, and private acting instructor.

IN HER OWN WORDS - 

        "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 trained at Tisch. Writers there are taught to write for 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."