Updated: May 4
Erica proved to be one of the most intricate characters I have ever had to craft in all of my projects. The main challenge lay in that she was not an easy character to root for, at least not on paper. Her extraordinary good looks, affluent background, and perfect life made it hard to evoke sympathy for her. Not exactly a promising start, I must confess.
However, I conceived of Erica intending to break away from the traditional conventions of the genre. We often presume that a handsome man may date a woman who works in a fast-food establishment, but the inverse is rarely true. Even Chris Rock talked about this troupe in one of his specials. And so, as I pondered Erica's character, I realized that her background of wealth would be essential to make this a reality. After all, she does not have to face the same struggles as Mark, so that she can look beyond the limitations of his financial means. I created Mark, knowing that he would not be a "Catch" apart from the purity of his heart and soul.
The other difficulty was Erica's beauty, which eventually made her a fascinating character. My inspiration for this aspect of her character came from a close friend of mine who is stunningly beautiful. She was part of a social circle I belonged to, and I recall sitting with her in a brewery (ironically, in Colorado Springs). At the same time, she recounted how her beauty was akin to a deformity. It defined everything in her life, and she could not control people's reactions to her, whether male or female. She once shared with me she even went so far as to put on weight and stop caring for herself to escape the constant attention. But eventually, she realized she did not need to diminish herself to survive; instead, she transformed it into a strength.
This is where I drew inspiration for Erica's character. Despite appearing to have everything a person could want in life, she is still evolving, making mistakes, and while blind to the privileges afforded to her by her looks and family background, she is still learning and growing. I deliberately made Mark and Erica complete opposites in every respect except for the most important one- their souls are essentially the same.