From experimenting with short stories as a child to winning Emmys for his work on primetime television, writing has always been a part of Eric Horsted’s life.
To date, with more than 25 years of TV writing experience, Horsted has won two Emmys for his co-executive producing role on the writing team for “Futurama.” And there may just be another win right around the corner.
After recently moving his family to Spokane from Los Angeles, he celebrated his ninth Emmy nomination on Tuesday, this time around for his role as a co-executive producer alongside his fellow writers on ABC’s “Black-ish.”
“I’m really happy for the show,” Horsted said, noting its previous nominations for best comedy. “It’s an amazing show and a super-deserved nomination.”
In addition to “Black-ish,” Horsted has been nominated in the past for his writing on shows including “Coach,” starring Spokane-born actor Craig T. Nelson, “Home Improvement,” “Reba,” “The Boondocks,” “The Simpsons,” “Futurama” and “Disenchantment.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit and writer’s rooms were forced to go virtual, Horsted and husband Michael Perry decided that fate had offered them a chance at life closer to family in Spokane and removed from the big city.
So, in August, after years of living and working in Los Angeles, Horsted and Perry moved with their three high school-aged children and started renovating a home on the Spokane River.
Since moving, Horsted has continued to work remotely, traveling between Spokane and Los Angeles as necessary.
“At least once a year, Eric says, ‘This is my last year – I’m going to become a professor,’ ” Perry said. But year after year, he just can’t help falling in love with the work all over again.”
“It’s like a standup factory,” Horsted said. “You’ve got 17 writers in a room pitching jokes and assistants scrambling to write it all down.” Drama you can do remotely, he said, but comedy happens in the writer’s room.
First inspired by comedy writers including Bob Newhart, Norman Lear and John Cleese, Horsted was drawn to the craft early.
After graduating from the University of Texas, Horsted spent time working as a writer’s assistant. This experience, he said, was pivotal to the rest of his career and education.
Hours spent revising scripts and collaborating with colleagues functioned as an apprenticeship, preparing him for later roles.
“Eric’s mom has saved all these books that he would write as a little kid in elementary school,” Perry said. “You’ve got to start early when you’re going to climb to these levels, and Eric will say that he was an assistant, but he was always a writer.”
He’s also been lucky, Perry said, in that he’s had back-to-back work throughout his career, a rarity in competitive Hollywood.
“He is consistently beloved,” Perry said. “He has this unique personality that everyone kind of just gels with. In Hollywood, there are a lot of alpha types … burning bridges and burning out.
“But Eric has longevity.”
And it’s all to do with his “all add, no subtract” approach. To aspiring writers, Horsted offered the following advice.
“Just keep writing. Especially when you’re starting, each new thing you write is so much better than what you’ve previously written.”
Generally, you just need experience, he said. So take every opportunity, and if you can land a writer’s assistant job, you’ll be on the right track in no time.
“Black-ish” is available on ABC and Hulu.
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