A weekly column for the Daily Collegian at UMass Amherst launched Mark’s career as a TV writer. His work includes landmark dramas like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, where he is now Executive Producer and Head Writer.
I think my favorite memory, actually, is just hanging out in the dorm. I also really enjoyed going to the school paper. I had a humour column at "The Collegian." Occasionally I would do a story for "The Collegian." I would write a story. But for the most part, I concentrated on the humour column. I remember I went to see a screening of "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca." I thought, well, let me go try Hollywood. I ended up writing plays, and short plays, long plays. And one of the plays won this play writing festival up in northern California. Some Disney executive saw it and they asked me if I'd be interested in writing for television. So it was through a play that I managed to get my first break. It all comes down to as a show runner, do you like a script that somebody's written? That is the currency of Hollywood. And if you write a good enough script, or a couple of good scripts, people will want to meet you. And luckily enough, Shonda Rhimes wanted to meet me for "Grey's Anatomy" to come on for the second season. After being on "Grey's Anatomy," Shonda wrote this new pilot at the time five years ago called "Scandal." She asked me to go run it for her. It's modern day politics, obviously. But I'm also amazed that sometimes we do these episodes, which turn out to be prescient. We did an episode a few years ago where we said the NSA was spying on Americans. And then three months later Edward Snowden comes out and says the NSA is spying on Americans. I think I'm most proud of the fact that I was able to come out to LA, and say I wanted to be a writer, and I managed to do it for the last 25 years. It's easy in life to judge people. But I think UMass prepared me to say, well, before you judge somebody see what they're coming from and what they're doing. And I think that's the value for me. That was the value of essentially was a liberal arts education. I'm Mark Wilding, Executive Producer and Head Writer on "Scandal." I stand for artistic creativity, and I stand for UMass.