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Interview with Screenwriter & Producer, Margaret Nagle

Margaret Nagle is a screenwriter and television producer. She has been nominated for two Emmy Awards and won two Writers Guild of America Awards. Her first script, HBO’s Warm Springs received a record-breaking 16 Emmy nominations and won five Emmys in 2005, including the Award for Best Television Movie. It also won the 2006 Writers Guild of America Award for Long Form Original Screenplay.

We had the opportunity to chat with Margaret about her incredible success, her favorite beauty picks and most importantly, why she loves being a redhead.

H2BAR: How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

MN: I was an actress with a small part on the show My So-Called Life and I was so fascinated by the writing and producing on that series that I realized that I wanted to be a writer.  And by the way, Claire Danes on the pilot episode of My So- Called Life dyes her hair red.

H2BAR: You’ve written so many outstanding films and television series. What has been your favorite piece of work thus far?

MN: As a parent it’s difficult to choose a favorite, but the one with the deepest resonance for me has been The Good Lie [starring Reese Witherspoon] because it is having a life beyond it being just a film. It’s being used as a teaching tool and a fund raising tool to shine a light on the on going plight of the refugees in camps throughout Africa.

I also love the pilot episode of Red Band Society and the episodes I wrote of Boardwalk Empire in season one; I wrote for the character of Margaret played by Kelly MacDonald who has red hair. Warm Springs a movie I wrote for HBO starred Cynthia Nixon who played Eleanor Roosevelt is another favorite, maybe because practically everyone in the cast of that film had red hair.

L-R) Actress Kuoth Wiel, actor Ger Duany, director Philippe Falardeau, actor Corey Stoll, actor Arnold Oceng, actress Reese Witherspoon, actor Emmanuel Jal and screenwriter Margaret Nagle pose at
L-R) Actress Kuoth Wiel, actor Ger Duany, director Philippe Falardeau, actor Corey Stoll, actor Arnold Oceng, actress Reese Witherspoon, actor Emmanuel Jal and screenwriter Margaret Nagle pose at “The Good Lie” Press Conference during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 8, 2014 in Toronto, Canada.

H2BAR: You recently received the 2015 Paul Selvin Award for The Good Lie. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about this story?

MN: Thank you! The Paul Selvin Award is a special award presented by the Writers Guild of America. It is to be given “to that member whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere and to whose defense Paul Selvin committed his professional life.” It was my honor to be chosen for this prestigious award for The Good Lie and it will allow for greater awareness of the film so that the great work it has engendered for fund raising to aid refugees around the globe will continue.

I love everything about red hair. It'sH2BAR: We absolutely love how you rock glasses with your red hair! Do you have a favorite go-to color/pair?

MN: Black because it works in contrast to my fair skin.  My sunglasses are tortoise shell with green lenses.

H2BAR: Why do you love being a redhead?

MN: I love everything about red hair. It’s beautiful and comes in so many different shades and it looks awesome against my favorite colors: purple, blue, black and green. I heard a redheaded question just yesterday, “So if a redhead goes crazy, is it called Ginger Snaps?”

H2BAR: There are so many facts about redheads. Like, there are only 4% of natural redheads in the world. Do any appeal to you? 

MN: I understand there is a higher rate of left-handedness in redheads and I am left-handed.

And, I take more anesthesia. The first time I had a cavity filled the novocaine didn’t work. They had to give me four shots until I got numb. I realized then something was different. Certain drugs don’t have any effect on me and sometimes have the opposite effect. All redheads need to be aware of this and know they aren’t crazy.

H2BAR: Have you ever been treated differently because of your red hair? For being a woman writer? 

MN: I would hate to think that having red hair for anyone would be a problem, but as for being a woman writer there are definite obstacles that need to be overcome on a constant basis. That said, I have been very fortunate in my career and work hard to nurture any woman writer that I can help along the way. Sadly, women are not always nice to each other in my business and it always shocks and disappoints me.

H2BAR: What is your must-have beauty product?

MN: L’Oreal eye makeup remover, Kate Somerville cleanser and MAC lipstick.

H2BAR: Your hair always looks so perfect and polished! What is your favorite hair product?

MN: Catwalk TIGI Root Boost. OGX Argan Oil of Morocco shampoo and conditioner. I don’t use hairspray.

H2BAR: We always advocate the use of sunscreen. How do you take care of your gorgeous skin?

MN: My hair is reddish brown and going in the sun turns it very red. I have uncles on both sides with reddish brown hair and my grandfather had red hair. My family goes back to the Normans out of France who conquered Scotland, England and Ireland. There are paintings of many of my great grandmothers going back as far as the 1300’s and they all seem to have reddish brown hair. As an adult I now stay out of the sun as much as possible.

But it gives me leeway to speak my mind

H2BAR: How about your favorite ‘redhead friendy’ color to wear with your red hair?

MN: Purple or black. I never wear red, pink, yellow, white or orange. It’s not my hair. They don’t go with my skin.

H2BAR: What is one piece of advice you would give to a redhead?

MN: Own your red hair. Don’t shy away from it. Love it. We’re a dying breed.

Rock it like a Redhead!