Interview with Jana Sinyor, Creator of 'Being Erica'
Jana Sinyor is the Canadian screenwriter responsible for the hit CBC TV show "Being Erica."
At 32, Jana Sinyor has accomplished quite a lot for herself. She’s worked on "Degrassi," one of Canada’s most established series abroad, created an Emmy Award-winning show, “Dark Oracle,” and is currently the executive producer for the CBC hit TV show “Being Erica,” which she created as well.
But not all of Sinyor’s friends (most of whom are in their late twenties and early thirties) are happy with what they’ve accomplished thus far. “I was noticing that a lot of people I knew were having a lot of anxiety, as they either were in their late twenties or early thirties and they were feeling like if they didn’t have certain things in place – the guy, the kid, the job, you know – they were failing at their lives,” shares Sinyor. “There was a lot of expectation that people seemed to have on where they should be by a certain age and that’s sort of the way the character of Erica came in to being.”
The show revolves around Erica, a woman in her early thirties, who is living what she thinks is a bad life due to poor decisions she made in the past. Her therapist, Dr. Tom, gives her the chance to go back in time to those moments of regret and make better decisions with the knowledge she now has as an adult.
Although Erica was named after her sister, Sinyor says the character doesn’t share many similarities with her sibling or herself. “I have two young children and I’ve been married for a long time. I have a career I’m really happy with. But I think that regardless, everybody – no matter who you are – feels like there’s some part of their lives that isn’t exactly where they’d like it to be,” says Sinyor.
The world of fantasy isn’t anything new to her. She created “Dark Oracle,” a kids TV show that focuses on teenage twins who find an old comic book that alters reality, and says that she loves to include fantasy aspects in her work. The same goes for “Being Erica,” where the main character is able to revisit her past.
After a very successful first season in Canada, the show is now airing in the United States on SOAPnet and has been renewed for a second season by CBC. Sinyor revealed what she could about the upcoming second season.
“There’s a new character whose name is Kai, I can tell you that. Erica will continue to work at River Rock with Julianne and Brant, and her relationship with Ethan…we’re going to be following the ups and downs of a new relationship,” Sinyor reveals.
Last season Erica was single, so a relationship will definitely stir up change. What’s also bound to change is her relationship with her best friend, who has a baby and this will bring “different stresses to her friendship,” according to Sinyor.
The writer herself has experienced quite a bit of change. Once a religious studies student at McGill University, Sinyor decided to become a screenwriter while working at a call centre.
“I was working at a call centre incidentally and was very unhappy,” says Sinyor. “One night I was working a late night shift and I sort of wrote down on a piece of paper all the things that I really wanted in a job…and I came up with screenwriting.”
Sinyor started as a writing resident at the Canadian Film Centre where she received what she describes as an “intensive” experience. Later on, she met Aaron Martin at an agency party, who brought her on board to work on "Degrassi." Years later, Sinyor brought Martin on board to work on “Being Erica,” where he co-runs the show with her.
Although Sinyor has an extensive TV resume, she’s never ventured into film and claims to have “zero interest” in writing for the big screen. “TV is really a lot more of a writer’s medium,” Sinyor shares. “I mean, the nice thing about TV is that it’s really project-based whereas in film, you write the script and you’re kind of done. With TV you’re the show runner, you’re producing as well and it goes on and on.”
So what’s next for Sinyor? “Being Erica.” Although she has other projects in mind, Sinyor has quite a lot on her plate as executive producer.
“I think about what I will do next, but I don’t devote a lot of energy to it because really all of my time and energy is taken up – rightly so – with trying to make this show the best show that it can be.”
For more information: www.cbc.ca/beingerica