This Walt Whitman High School alum is now a screenwriter and playwright in Hollywood

Switching lanes

From Capitol Hill to Hollywood, Mario Correa has figured out the write stuff

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In May 2010, Correa moved to New York City to pursue writing full time, starting with pilots for TV shows. From 2014 to 2016, he co-hosted a radio show for Entertainment Weekly. While living in the city, he connected with humorist Mo Rocca, a childhood pal from Bethesda who hired him to write two seasons of Animal Planet’s Whoa! Sunday with Mo Rocca.

Correa’s first play, Tail! Spin!, satirized congressional sex scandals and starred Rocca’s friend and Saturday Night Live alumna Rachel Dratch. It launched at the New York International Fringe Festival and ran off-Broadway in 2014 and 2015. Correa then acquired an agent, who began showing his scripts around Hollywood.

Rocca says the seeds of his friend’s career move were planted in elementary school, when the pair would get together to write, casting their unknowing Wood Acres classmates as characters from the TV show Dallas. The two obsessively listened to albums of musicals, such as Evita, and watched Charlie’s Angels on TV. “We were campy before we knew that word,” Rocca says.

Correa says the pair also bonded when their Catholic mothers were the only parents in their fifth grade class who wouldn’t allow them to take sex education classes. “We had to square dance instead,” Correa says. “It was me, Mo, a girl from India and the girls’ gym teacher.”
Rocca attributes Correa’s keen powers of observation to his experiences as an outsider when he moved to Montgomery County. Still, “it’s a big deal to completely change professions,” Rocca says. “And he was the only one in the ’90s who could explain health care to me. But he’s really creative and was able to make the very, very rare move into success in Hollywood and entertainment.”

Morella, who sponsored Correa for U.S. citizenship, says she’s not surprised by his success. “From the halls of Walt Whitman High School, ‘shoe leathering’ and putting up posters for my campaign, Mario stood out for his passion for public service, political savvy, sense of humor and communication skills,” she says.

Correa’s years in politics continue to inform his work. His 2017 screenplay Let Her Speak is about Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis’ historic filibuster to prevent passage of an anti-abortion bill. Sandra Bullock has expressed an interest in producing and starring in the film, according to Correa. Commander, his second play, written in 2014, is about the then-novel idea of a gay man running for president. He is currently writing a screenplay about Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court case that struck down laws barring homosexual sex.

Correa says changing careers wasn’t easy, and he attributes his success to those who helped him along the way. “I’ve had the luckiest of breaks in my life—fairy godfathers and godmothers who believe in you and open their hearts to you,” he says. “Believe me, I’m grateful.”

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