“She had suddenly become the voice of an angsty teenage generation.”
Amy Heckerling is the masterful director that brought us our favorite teenage anthems, Clueless and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, as well as other blockbusters like Look Who’s Talking and National Lampoon’s European Vacation. She is one of only a handful of female directors to produce multiple box-office hits, having graduated from Manhattan’s High School of Art and Design and studied at both New York University and the American Film Institute.
Fast Times was Amy’s first feature-length film, based on the non-fiction account of a year-in-the-life of California high school students as observed by a Rolling Stone journalist. The film launched the careers of many emerging actors, including catapulting a young Sean Penn into stardom. After the success of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Amy was bombarded with every new movie script involving high school, preppy kids, or a story about a girl losing her virginity. She had suddenly become the voice of an angsty teenage generation.
In 1995, Amy both wrote and directed Clueless, another enormous hit centered around California adolescents. Clueless is based on Jane Austen’s Emma, re-worked and updated to fit in with the modern lifestyle of the 1990s. In her time spent researching for the film, Amy sat in on classes at Beverly Hills High School and quizzed high schoolers on their slang.
Clueless single-handedly launched the careers of what are now household names, including Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, Breckin Meyer, and Stacey Dash, and Amy also successfully created a television spin-off of the hugely popular film. The movie itself is an incredible pop culture icon, and even gave birth to a new vernacular among young people.
In 1995, Heckerling won the National Society of Film Critics Best Screenplay award and was nominated for the Writers Guild of America award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for her screenplay, Clueless.
Amy Heckerling isn’t slowing down, and isn’t yet tired of teenage stories. Recently, she’s worked on a few episodes of Gossip Girl, released a new film with old pal Alicia Silverstone, and – brace yourself – is currently working on a Clueless musical.
Amy’s most loved films have been parodied countless times, an attribute to their success, and even parody our strange and funny teenage existence themselves. Whether you like to admit it or not, you’ve most likely said “as if” on more than one occasion, and there is at least one character in Clueless you can relate to, even if it’s Travis Birkenstock.
We salute you and your undying ability to relate to us, Amy Heckerling.