HPW’s Inspiring Women series profiles remarkable Greek-American professional women whose stories of success inspire and encourage us to achieve our own career goals and aspirations.
Screenwriter, Writer & Producer
LIA BOZONELIS is a screenwriter, writer and producer based in Los Angeles. Her pandemic thriller feature SAFER AT HOME, which she co-wrote and co-produced for Voltage Pictures during Covid lockdown, is currently being distributed internationally by Vertical Entertainment. Next up is her psychological thriller feature GHOSTED, which she co-wrote and will produce on with Meridian Entertainment, as well as her dramedy feature DEEP SEA BABY, which is being packaged to shoot in Greece. Lia’s romantic comedy feature EAT, DRINK & BE MARRIED premiered worldwide in summer of ’19. She also recently sold the romantic comedy feature A TASTE OF LOVE to Reel One Entertainment and completed a page-one feature rewrite of Gen Z comedy SUMMER JOB for Gunpowder & Sky.
Lia previously served as Head Writer and Consulting Producer of the feminist sketch comedy series SORRY NOT SORRY for Go90, Sony-backed Astronauts Wanted, Complex Networks and DiGa Studios. She also created a four-part web-series LIVING YOUR BEST HALF LIFE, produced by Cafe.com. Additionally, Lia has developed film and television projects with Momentum TV, Atlas Entertainment and Haven Entertainment, among others, and wrote the female-driven action feature GIRL RACE under a grant from the Australian government.
In conjunction with her own writing, Lia story consults on a myriad of feature and television projects and served four years analyzing projects to build a slate of sub $35MM original films for Netflix. She also consulted for Ridley Scott’s shingle Scott Free Productions, as well as OddLot Entertainment and George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures, and is a former reader for both film and television for HBO, OddLot Entertainment, Anonymous Content, among others.
At the center of Lia’s career is her mission to help women rise within the entertainment industry. Lia finds fulfillment as a pro bono mentor and advisor to women, as well as within her cultural community of Greeks and Greek Americans. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, where she previously volunteered for over ten years. In addition, and as a member of several women-in-film groups, Lia utilizes her strengths within these organizations to advocate for young, diverse voices to be heard through storytelling. She was recently a recipient of the prestigious 40 Under 40 Award from the Greek America Foundation for her professional and philanthropic contributions.
Prior to moving to Los Angeles and while pursuing screenwriting, Lia worked as a staff writer for FORTUNE magazine, covering hard news across the globe, reporting from the Global Economic Forum in New Delhi, India, as well as the Brainstorm Tech Conference in Silicon Valley and the Brainstorm Green Conference in Los Angeles. She was also a speechwriter for the Managing Editor. Lia started her career in corporate communications for Time Warner and two of its subsidiaries, New Line Cinema and Picturehouse Films, in New York City. She first began writing screenplays during this time. She also worked as a Teaching Assistant for a graduate course in strategic communication at Columbia University.
Lia is a graduate of George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs in Washington D.C. with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Music Composition and Theory. After graduation and before moving to New York, Lia taught English as a second language in various cities throughout Italy. She is conversational in Greek, French and Italian. Born and raised in New Jersey, Lia enjoys cooking, music, theater, travel, hiking and yoga and is a former company dancer.
Contributor: Frederica Bolgouras
What is your passion?
My passion is anything creative that evokes emotion — writing, dancing, composing and playing music, drawing, painting, creating art in any form. When I’m creative, I’m able to get out of my head and express more freely.
Tell us what motivated you to become a screenwriter, writer producer and script consultant.
Along these lines, my desire to create is what motivated me to choose my profession. I studied journalism and quickly entered the film industry after college. I wanted to find a way to marry my writing skills with my passion to create, which eventually culminated into artistic storytelling through film and television.
What were some of your challenges in these roles and lessons learned?
The entertainment industry is an extremely tough business. When I first entered it, I quickly learned it it is a relationship-driven business and that I would have to build my own network from the ground up. I also quickly learned that it would take years of dedication, perseverance and resilience to make any headway. Add to that the fact that it is largely male-dominated industry and even though great strides are being taken for equality, there is still a lot of work to be done. In terms of individual projects, so many things need to go right in order to get a movie off the ground. You are constantly presented with challenges, especially when you are trying to move various projects at different stages. All to say, I had to learn to be resilient very quickly and to stay determined and focused and work multiple jobs and many hours and put in a lot of sweat equity in order to move any one thing forward, which is still never a guarantee. It can be exhausting work, but it is extremely gratifying to be able to do what I love every day.
Who has inspired you the most in your life?
My family. I have so many amazing and strong Greek women to look up to, from my grandmothers to my mother and my aunts who all have done such an amazing job raising fearless women and encouraging us to chase our dreams. The men in my family are also role models and treat all of their relationships with kindness, respect and compassion. I really hit the jackpot.
Tell us about a few of your most proud accomplishments?
On the professional level, my proudest accomplishments have included heading a writer’s room for an all-female sketch comedy series that was incredibly fun and inclusive and was an absolute joy and privilege to show up to work every day. Also, recently having a feature film sold and distributed internationally that was made during the pandemic was an incredible opportunity. Watching the film premiere on the big screen under a full moon in Los Angeles is a night I will never forget because it represents the culmination of so much hard work and maintaining persistence even during the pandemic.
What advice would you give to professional Hellenic-American Women today in their careers?
The best piece of advice given to me that I like to impart to the young people I mentor is that you only get one go around this track so you might as well do what you love since you will spend so much time doing it. Screenwriting and producing are extremely difficult and challenging jobs. So I always tell people that if there’s anything else on the planet that they could picture themselves doing, go ahead and do it. But if this is truly what they want and nothing else will suffice, roll up your sleeves and get to it, knowing it’s going to be a lot of work and come with a lot of frustrations, but it will be full of lessons and incredibly rewarding.
What impact has your Greek heritage had on your aspiring career?
My Greek heritage has had great impact on my career. I was raised in a Greek orthodox household which gave me a very strong moral compass. I’ve been lucky enough to be blessed with two wonderful parents and an amazing brother and sister-in-law who all have an extremely strong work ethic coupled with placing importance on family and cultural traditions. Plus I have an enormous affection for Greece and being able to observe our culture in our motherland has certainly helped inform my writing on a deeply emotional level.
Are you involved with the Greek community?
Yes, I was recently named to the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival and I am also a recipient of the 40 Under 40 award for the Class of 2020 by the Greek America Foundation, which recognizes both our professional and philanthropic contributions to the community. I do a lot of pro bono work to mentor young Greeks and Greek Americans who are looking to enter the entertainment industry. And I often volunteer at the various Greek festivals in Southern California. In addition, I’m working hard to bring American productions to Greece, the goal of which will be to provide production jobs to locals — there is so much untapped talent in Greece!
Given the COVID pandemic, how are you handling the stress this has caused and which wellness and coping exercises and mechanisms would you recommend?
As a nation many people have experienced, loss, hurt, struggles, and pain due to the global pandemic. It is hard to see others go through this difficult time, but as a community and through international exchange we must come together to support each other. As for myself, each day I am trying my best to stay happy and healthy, by exercising and keeping up with my daily activities. Although it was extremely hard for me at first to complete tasks due to the stressors of the pandemic, I recommend that everyone tries every single day to push through the obstacles. No matter how little or small, we must celebrate the tasks we complete.
Who has inspired you in your career? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org