Milford grad goes all out to get hired by Ellen DeGeneres show

MILFORD – Millions of people love The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and it’s hard not to. Ellen is bright, kind, funny, and dances in a way that defies you not to be happy.

And probably some of those people have thought at one time or other, “Wouldn’t it be great to work for the show?”

But we doubt anyone has anyone has gone to the lengths Belinda Woolfson is going to get a job on Ellen’s writing team.

Woolfson plans to set off on a cross-country trip to Los Angeles this fall, where the daytime talk/comedy show is produced. Along the way she will talk to, and film, people who, like her, are working hard to fulfill a dream, and the vignettes will be recorded in a documentary she’s calling The Ellen Project.

It’s not an idea she just thought up.

Woolfson studied comedic writing and improv at The Second City and the iO theater in Chicago and has dreamed about writing for The Ellen DeGeneres Show since she was in Milford High School.

“I can’t seem to shake it,” she says, on her Ellen Project web page.

From Chicago, where she discovered the joys of storytelling, she set off for Portland, Maine, where she attended an intensive program in documentary storytelling to sharpen her writiing and editing skills.

Now she’s working all-out to grab the attention of the Ellen show’s producers, and maybe even Ellen herself.

In Chicago, Woolfson says, “I worked up the nerve to start telling stories at various shows around the city, which eventually got me so jazzed that I started producing and hosting my own show at a local theater.

“Finally, I was able to encourage others to get up on stage and share their stories. I believe that storytelling is a really powerful platform that can inspire and bring people together in an incredible way.”

Part of the Ellen Project is a lighthearted mini-web series called “Belinda Loves to Dance,” that will show Woolfson struggling in a ballet class with five-year-olds, getting stuck on the top of a pole in a pole dancing class, and “flailing my long spaghetti-Betty arms in a hip-hop dance class.”

Belinda is 27 and the daughter of Roberta Woolfson, who has taught children’s theater classes in Milford for many years,

“I grew doing every one of her workshops,” she said.

Ellen DeGeneres is the focus of her quest, partly because she is a female comedian who has found a place for herself with “humor that is clean, funny and honest, carefree and sweet … and she is “so effortlessly kind,” Woolfson said.

Accompanying her on her cross-country trek will be Chicago documentary film maker Ryan Ferguson recording the interviews and co-directing the project.

Ferguson seems a good choice. He has collaborated with New York Times reporter Azam Ahmed on a feature documentary called Skate or Die, which tells the story of a Chicago youth who found an escape from gang life in skateboarding,

He has also collaborated with standup comic Hannibal Buress on two documemtentaries. One of them, co-produced by director Judd Apatow, follows Buress for a month at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is set to be complete this winter.

When she started planning for the project Woolfson found him by googling documentary film makers and emailed asking if he could meet her for coffee or a beer.

“Four years later, he’s really gung-ho,” she said.”I’m really excited, very lucky to be working with him.”

To raise money for the project, Woolfson has started a Kickstarter campaign, and the project will only be launched if at least $10,000 is pledged by midnight Friday, Sept. 12.

Most of the funds will go towards the documentary film itself, equipment, travel, editing and the rest will go towards the campaign.

And once they reach LA?

“Ha ha, a good question. I’ve got a couple of contacts at the show, so a week before we hit the road we will be reaching out and hopefully making some connections,” she said in an email.

“This project has already brought so much joy into my life, and I’m anxious to see where it goes!”

To donate, go to Ellenproject.com and click on the Kickstarter link.

Donations earn various prizes for various levels of pledges, including an early release of the film, Ellen Project underwear, phone pranks. and for the most generous, the title of executive producer for donations of $1,500 or more.

The Ellen Project is also having a car wash on the Milford Oval on Sept. 6 and a fundraising concert at Chapangas Griddle and Grill on Elm Street in Milford from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@
cabinet.com.