lily mercer​ 

Writer, Actor, World Traveler

all about lily

     Lily Mercer’s father, one of twelve children from a humble family in Kentucky, overcame the odds and went on to become a 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 meeting the governor at an upscale 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 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 in Sedona, 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. In 2012 she received an MFA with a concentration in film, and won the Charles Pupura Award for overall excellence in writing.

     After moving to Los Angeles Lily embraced her new career. Since 2016 she has won the ISA Fast Track Fellowship, the Vancouver Women in Film Festival Best Screenplay, and advanced several competitions including in the Nicholl Fellowship, the Austin Film Festival, CineStory TV Fellowship, the PAGE Awads, 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).

     Current projects include a pilot entitled POCAHONTAS: The Other Story, and THE BIG BLIND, another new pilot about a hotshot female poker player. Meanwhile, Lily continues to develop a TV series entitled LOST WOMEN OF AMERICAN HISTORY.  Yet, out of her many accomplishments, Lily claims founding and giving voice to the Bechdel Babes Writing Partners, a diverse group of film and TV writers for women, remains one of her proudest achievements.


        "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