my sort of lengthy bio
If you’re looking for a pithy, program-friendly bio, go here.
After graduating from Cornell University in 1983, Colleen worked at Young & Rubicam in New York, as well as the now-renamed DDB Needham and the now-defunct Bayer Bess Vanderwarker in Chicago, writing mostly television copy for such brands as Hallmark, Lincoln-Mercury, Gatorade and Michelob Light, although it was not until she was a freelancer that she scored the coup of her copywriting career, writing a Wheaties campaign for Michael Jordan, which is reason enough for quitting your day job.
She and her then-husband moved to Los Angeles in 1992, where she wrote two pilot episodes of a really great children’s show for ABC that, despite being nominated for an Emmy, went absolutely nowhere. Bored with writing bad screenplays she couldn’t sell, Colleen signed up for classes at the Groundlings school, where she moved up the ranks for reasons she still can’t fathom but probably have a lot to do with her unreasonable optimism in the face of doom and the really talented people she was working with. Unceremoniously booted from the illustrious Sunday Company, Colleen decided the sensible thing to do was train to become a proper actress; two years later, she was earning her living in television commercials, proving that there truly is no escape from irony.
In 2002, Colleen experienced what she can only characterize as an epiphany when she was hospitalized for 11 days with an acute onset of Crohn’s disease. Determined to regain her lost weight and health, she made a series of radical lifestyle changes, including adopting the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that thousands of IBD patients have used to “cure” themselves of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Shortly thereafter, along with her friend (and interstitial cystitis patient) Jan Pessin, she wrote #1 & #2, an original comedy chronicling their experiences with illness and recovery which they workshopped in the spring of 2004 to great enthusiasm, including that of her gastrointestinal practitioner, who even enjoyed the tent-pole musical number, “Dr. God.”
Since then, she has thrown herself headlong into the world of networked communication, launching her primary website, communicatrix-dot-com, in November of 2004, her highly-acclaimed monthly newsletter, communicatrix | focuses, in May of 2007, and her popular “Act Smart!” column for L.A. Casting in September of 2006. Along the way, she’s also written for blogging.la, the Design Sessions blog, ASMP’s Strictly Business blog, the ADBASE blog and numerous other places she’d just as soon forget, but which she cedes are easily findable should the spirit move you.
In 2011, she decided to put all of this social-media-marketing stuff to some good use, vowing to raise $50,000 for her favorite non-profit in the 50 days leading up to her 50th birthday, and to shave her head if she reached her goal. She surpassed her goal by over $10,000 (plus matching funds totaling an additional $75,000), and has been bald ever since.
These days, Miss Wainwright divides her time between the road, where she shares what she’s learned about communicating effectively in a world gone mad, and communicatrix world HQ in Los Angeles, where she catches up on sleep and quality streaming video. She is currently writing a book on her methodology for responsible and effective social media use; on behalf of a world that desperately needs it, pray for her.
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Photo © Josh Ross.