‘Bring It On’ writer offers real-world advice, inspiration

Filmmaker Jessica Bendinger speaks at the Scripps Presents lecture series Feb. 8 in the Balch Auditorium at Scripps College. Bendinger gave advice to students who are aspiring filmmakers at the Claremont and Pomona Colleges on how to make it in Hollywood. / photo by Jonas Holt
Filmmaker Jessica Bendinger speaks at the Scripps Presents lecture series Feb. 8 in the Balch Auditorium at Scripps College. Bendinger gave advice to students who are aspiring filmmakers at the Claremont and Pomona Colleges on how to make it in Hollywood. / photo by Jonas Holt

Jonas Holt
Staff Writer

Hollywood screenwriter, producer and director Jessica Bendinger spoke in the Balch Auditorium at Scripps College on Feb. 8, as part of Scripps Presents. 

Roughly 50 aspiring screenwriters and others attended the talk titled “Lights, Camera, Action!”  

Bendinger, known for “Bring It On” and “Stick It,” shared insights, anecdotes and advice. 

Bendinger’s films have earned over $500 million globally.

She started the event by talking about her own journey, and she emphasized the importance of improving one’s business skills.

 “You need to get really good at your craft,” Bendinger said. “Your best calling card is to make things.” 

Bendinger said her writing process is driven by the belief that storytelling is a superpower. 

“It’s about focusing on those niche things that you care about and taking that vulnerability and doing something with it,” Bendinger said. 

Her insistence on believing in oneself echoed throughout her talk, highlighting the resilience required to succeed in the industry. 

Bendinger said her road to success was not without its challenges. She pitched “Bring It On” 28 times before receiving a “yes.”

“There was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to sell ‘Bring It On’,” Bendinger said. 

She also discussed being a woman in the male-dominated industry. 

In Hollywood today, just over 25% or screenwriters are women.

“You are an outsider as a woman,” she said.

Despite the hurdles, Bendinger remains optimistic about the future of storytelling. “It is so much easier to tell stories now,” Bendinger said, citing the accessibility of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. 

Harper Deniston, a sophomore media studies and Spanish major at Scripps, said she learned a lot from the presentation. 

“It’s nice to see and hear about her journey,” Deniston said. “I gained a lot of context into the screenwriting process from Bendinger. It inspired me because filmmaking is what I want to do in my future.” 

“I want to be a writer and a director, just like Bendinger, in the future,” Kayla Hankins said, Pomona College sophomore media studies and politics major. She was motivated by Bendinger’s words.

 “She gave some really good advice on being able to trust yourself. Pick something that you do care about, even if it’s niche, and make the best of it,” Hankins added.

“I haven’t seen any of her films or work, I just think Scripps Presents is a really good opportunity to get some insight and advice,” sophomore media studies major at Pitzer College J.T. Bard said. “Going into the film industry, I’m always trying to get advice from people who are knowledgeable and Bendinger is very knowledgeable. This has motivated me to go and watch her work such as ‘Bring it on’ and ‘Stick It’.” 

“It’s refreshing to hear positive stories from the industry as there’s many stories that are mostly dark.” Bard said.

Jonas Holt can be reached at jonas.holt@laverne.edu.

Jonas Holt is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. He is a staff writer and staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine.

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