Amy Chozick. Photo by Emily Sandifer

Career & Craft

Blazing a New Trail

Journalist-turned-showrunner Amy Chozick writes without fear.

Don’t ask Amy Chozick to make any predictions about the 2024 presidential election. The former Wall Street Journal and New York Times journalist, who covered Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential run against Donald Trump, has been chastened by past prognostications.

“Oh my God, I’m the worst person to ask,” she said. “When I got onto the bus with Hillary in 2007, I was like, ‘I’m riding this to the White House!’ And then when I got on in 2015, I was like, ‘She’s inevitable!’ So yeah, I don’t think you want to listen to me on this prediction.”

(L-R) Christina Elmore, Melissa Benoist, Carla Gugino and Natasha Benham in The Girls on the Bus. Photo by Nicole Rivelli.

Chozick poured the joys and agonies of Clinton’s last doomed presidential bid into her acclaimed 2018 memoir Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling, which she’s now turned into the new Max series, The Girls on the Bus, with the help of producer Greg Berlanti and veteran writer-producer Julie Plec. 
Chozick’s first big break came when she covered Clinton’s ‘08 Democratic primary campaign. She was then assigned to the Obama White House and, ultimately, to Clinton’s 2016 run. Her book is an unflinching look at the imperfect candidate she covered and also a look at herself—how, among other things, Chozick struggled to strike a balance between her personal, aspirational feelings for Clinton, whom she affectionately said “took over my life,” and her objectivity as a journalist. 

Chasing Hillary also deals with the sexism Chozick faced as a young woman from South Texas fighting to be taken seriously in the male-dominated world of political journalism in the early aughts. She recalled a telling anecdote involving Democratic candidate (and, eventually, exposed philanderer) John Edwards. “I approached [him] after a rally in Iowa to introduce myself,” said Chozick. “He interrupted and said, ‘Just a second sweetie, I’ve got an interview with The Wall Street Journal.’ And I had to say, ‘Um, I am The Wall Street Journal.’”

Unlike her memoir, The Girls on the Bus centers on an entirely fictional Democratic primary race with multiple candidates—the kind of race Chozick said she wishes had happened in real life during the 2024 cycle. 

“I just miss a big crowded primary, and I think it’s sad we’re just getting basically two incumbents,” she said. 

There are so many challenges just pursuing this art - it’s inherently like, ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’

- Amy Chozick

The series is a TV dramedy that has fun with today’s highly polarized media landscape by focusing on a disparate quartet of female protagonists representing different factions: Sadie McCarthy is the next generation print journalist (and closest to Chozick herself), Grace Gordon Greene is a traditional, “old-school” print reporter, Kimberlyn Kendrick is the Fox News-esque conservative TV journalist and Lola Rahaii is the young, ultra-unconventional social media influencer. The intertwining arcs of these four characters give the show the narrative engine an episodic series demands. A dash of optimism comes from watching this group of women form bonds that transcend their political, cultural, and generational divides. (The show’s title is a riff on the legendary book The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse, about covering the 1972 presidential campaign.)

Chozick’s transition from print journo to showrunner was made significantly easier by Berlanti and Plec, who she calls “a wonderful mentor and writer. Julie really taught me everything about showrunning and writing for TV.”

The series is inspired by the best-selling book Chasing Hillary by former political reporter Amy Chozick.

She also credits the WGA Showrunner Training Program, which she completed in 2021. “That was invaluable. I learned about budgets and post. That was sort of how I really was able to change careers,” Chozick said. 

In her new career, she has come to relish the collaborative nature of TV writing. The spirit of solidarity that she experienced both in the Showrunner Training Program and on the picket lines during the 2023 strike has continued in the writers’ room. “I feel like there’s a great community of writers,” Chozick said. “It can be a lonely thing to sit down rearranging words in Final Draft for days on end, so that I love.”

Her philosophical North Star while writing both her book and The Girls on the Bus is a quote from memoirist and poet Mary Karr (The Liars’ Club): “What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” Chozick keeps the quote on a Post-it note affixed to her computer. 

“It’s very vulnerable being a writer and putting yourself out there,” she said. “You know you’re going to be attacked. But I think if you start worrying, if you write from a place of fear, I feel like the terrorists have won.”

“This is not an easy path, right?" Chozick continued. "If you have made it to get a job in a writers’ room, you’ve been writing, you have a million unpublished scripts and have honed your craft, you have been on the picket line for the past six months, you have gone months without employment. There are so many challenges just pursuing this art—it’s inherently like, ‘what would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ If we were afraid, we’d be accountants. God bless them. I really needed one at tax season, but it’s just scary to do this.”

She’s been in a union her whole career, and has experienced several labor stand-offs as a print journalist and member of the Newspaper Guild. Having worked on spec scripts in her spare time for years, she was elated when she finally became a WGAW member in 2019. 

“I’m very proud to be in the WGA because it’s such an important union and has so much power,” she said. “I mean, it’s everything.”

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