‘One Brick Shy’ series built with Webster University connections

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A web series by three Webster alums has allowed the women behind it a chance to build their friendship creatively, brick by brick.

Jenna McDonald, Abby Dorning and CeCe O’Neill have been friends since 2011 when they walked the halls of Webster together. They have always described themselves as “one brick shy,” meaning they are a little off or almost got it right. Their catchphrase led to the creation of their web series “One Brick Shy.”

The friend group describes Webster the same way.

“Webster, in general, is a pretty ‘one brick shy’ college. Like our quidditch team, our undefeated football team shirts about the football we don’t have, our made up mascot, we have one sorority, we have a theater school in a basement, I mean it’s just full of quirks!” O’Neill said. “Webster as a school embodies the character of the midwest in the way that it comes with a little bit of genuine self-deprecating humor.”

Their time spent at Webster and after has been full of note taking, preparing for the very day they launched their series. The scribbles turned into scripts after McDonald returned from Los Angeles, California.

“I got a peek behind the curtain of success [in L.A],” McDonald wrote in an email to The Journal. “I learned that making your own content was the ticket to authentic fulfillment. So we just got down to business.”

Their own lives seep into the content they create, with the first episode being an example. McDonald’s character, Drew Miller, goes through a break-up and shaves her head. The creators said they try to let more of their personalities into the characters.

“The story lines may be made up or embellished, but the dialogue, the vibe, the ‘“personalities’” of these characters are 100% a dopey, T.V. version of us,” O’Neill said.

The characters of “One Brick Shy” extend beyond the three friends. St. Louis itself acts as a character, showing off local businesses as Trader Bob’s Tattoo Shop and Vanishing Point Laser Removal in their “bonus brick” episode “Pride in My City, Baby.”

From left to right, Cece O’Neill, Jenna McDonald and Abby Dorning stand together for a portait. The three Webster alumni have started a web series called “One Brick Shy.” Photo contributed by CeCe O’Neill.

“We all three grew up somewhat as ‘misfits’ for lack of a better term, and none of us were from St. Louis. But when we all three came to school and met each other, we just clicked. We bonded over the movie ‘Bridesmaids,’ and it truly was the inspiration behind leaning in to such genuine, gross, female friendship,” O’Neill said. “That kind of safety in being yourself with a friend is what we want to stand out about the show. We want to allow other people to see the depth of what female friendship can look like, like ‘Bridesmaids’ did for us. St. Louis is what raised us, so it only seemed fitting to raise our child, our show here.”

The women have hopes for bringing “One Brick Shy” to Webster, saying there are plenty of memories from campus to choose from and stories to pull inspiration from.

“It would also be pretty cool to see a deposit from Webster for our art rather than a withdrawal,” O’Neill joked.

The three friends are preparing for the release of their third episode and have no intentions of stopping. The episodes are created through the help of local fundraising. The friends finance most of the episodes themselves while partnering with local businesses. “One Brick Shy” is growing fast, though, raising the need for additional financing.

The women face the challenge of taking up space in a male-dominated industry, but are ready for the days where they do not have to answer the question, “What’s it like being a woman in a man’s world?”

“It’s amazing to be shoving ourselves into a world that’s uncomfortable with powerful women. When we write this show, we don’t even consider that as something that would make anyone uncomfortable,” O’Neill said. “So, our aim is to continue to take up space in an authentic way, and contribute to a future in which ‘who dominates the industry’ is not in question, because you know it’s us.”

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