J.K. Rowling on Lifetime TV: Magic Beyond Words
How many times have we heard the positive message:
“Do what you love and love what you do.”
I’d be surprised if you didn’t know who J.K. Rowling is, but just in case she’s the author of the wildly popular Harry Potter book series that has now become a major empire.
While her stories are filled with magic and wizardry, her life story is more like a sordid fairytale…a fairytale that is captured in Lifetime’s “Magic Beyond Words” biopic.
Played by Poppy Montgomery, we follow Joanne (JK) Rowling from her childhood until present day and realize that while she may very well be one of the richest women in the world, she also has a lot to teach women about their careers, their hopes, their dreams, and how none of that has to end when we become mothers.
In the movie, the opening scene starts with Joanne arriving at her movie premiere with her fiancé. She’s visibly stunned by her own success and humbled by it, not wanting to show her pride. But her fiancé points out, “You’ve earned the right to be proud. Enjoy it.”
So simple and logical but I’ve seen friends be bashful about their success, sometimes apologizing for it. When you work that hard for it, why not bask in the glory.
After this scene, the movie takes us back to her childhood where we can see so clearly that her stories were already setting roots early on. For a little girl, her imagination is one that is intricate and complex, rich with fantasy.
Her mom is very supportive of her aspirations to be a writer but her dad insists that she consider continuing her studies at University in something sensible. Anyone who has had a mom who stood by them no matter what they’re passionate about will relate to the relationship Joanne has with her mother.
Throughout the movie we see how different events that happened in her life inspire the stories so many of us enjoy today.
As JK grows older, she sadly loses her mother to illness. She moves to Portugal to teach English and use her university degree. In the meantime, we recognize the large box that is never too far away, filled with all of her notes and manuscripts as she’s crafting her story of Harry Potter. We see her fall in love and struggle when things get complicated. She becomes a single mother, moving back to Edinburgh to be near her sister and going on government assistance to make ends meet.
Despite all of the struggle and the frustration, she still steadfastly continues to write and for me, that box became a true symbol of tenacity.
While she keeps her box of writing close she still has not let anyone read it until one day when her sister asks, “Why are you afraid?” and Joanne answers, “What if no one likes it?” and her sister says, “What have you got to lose?”
This is a great lesson. Sometimes the only thing holding us back is fear even when we know we are talented and skilled, we don’t want to be rejected. Rowling’s story is a fable for so many women in that overcoming the obstacles we create ourselves is often the key to our success.
Joanne decides to mail her manuscript out and because it’s considered a children’s book it gets quite a few rejections. But one young agent’s assistant comes across her manuscript and fights tooth and nail for her boss to read it. In fact, the assistant says she’ll quit if he doesn’t.
We all know what happens next but what you might not know is the job she finally took the day she was offered representation and what the K in J.K. stands for since Joanne has no middle name. You’ll also discover how much that first check from the publisher was worth.
While not all of us will become best selling authors with an entire empire built around our books, what we can learn from Rowling is that we should pursue what we’re passionate about and believe in ourselves. That we should not give up. And if we do we’ll build our empires on our own.
**Tune in to Lifetime on Monday, July 18 at 8pm et/pt for "Magic Beyond Words: The JK Rowling Story."