Screenwriter Diablo Cody doesn't harbor different personalities like her character in Showtime's "United States of Tara," but she hosts a slew of different lives.
She was a college graduate working in an entry-level job for an ad agency in Chicago when she suddenly picked up and followed a boyfriend to Minneapolis. That wasn't all.
"I still can't explain it — that was when I quit my job and started stripping," she says in a recent interview.
"That was years ago now so I have a lot of distance from it, and I didn't really understand why I did that. People say that I can't be stopped. I guess I'm more headstrong than I think. They said, 'We couldn't have stopped you if we tried.' I say, 'OK. I guess I didn't know I'm that stubborn.' "
Stripping didn't pay much.
"But I made enough to stay alive, and suddenly I had something to write about. So every day I would hit the computer and write about the ridiculous day that I had and the girls that were around me and their lives. And that was the blog that got the attention."
Her folks had no clue what she was doing. Her mom, an office manager, and her dad, a government employee in Illinois, thought she was waitressing.
"It was the first time I'd ever done something that was a complete deviation from the norm," says Cody, 31. "It made me realize that you can fall pretty hard and come back. It was a lesson for me. It's OK to venture outside of who you are and explore, and you can come back," she says.
She was lucky, though. Somebody saw her blogs and encouraged her to try more. To this day she's not sure she can write.
"I doubt myself every single day. I don't know what makes a great writer. I don't know if I ever would've become a writer if somebody hadn't approached me and said, 'I'm an admirer of your writing, you need to keep at it.' "
Her writing turned into a screenplay for "Juno," a hit comedy about a moxie teenager for which Cody won an Oscar. Once that happened, Cody (whose real name is Brook Busey) was thrust into yet another life — one she wasn't prepared for.
"The scariest part was the sudden visibility. I thought (that) even though I'm the most famous screenwriter in the world, people are not going to know what I look like. They're not going to take my picture. (But), for some reason at the time, the press really latched on to my back-story and my personality. I was getting a lot of attention for a second there, and it was way more than I'm equipped to handle," she says, shaking her head.
Settling deeper into her chair, she says, "I wouldn't wish that kind of success on anyone because it was actually overwhelming and awful. ... And I realize this is the dumbest thing in the world to be complaining about because so many people would love to have that happen."
Married for eight months to her second husband, she says he's helped her gain her footing.
"He is one of the first people I met post-success but had no interest in any of it. He doesn't read the trades, doesn't look online, doesn't care about reviews. He's supportive of what I do."