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Stephanie Land

Missoula writer Stephanie Land's memoir, "Maid," is being adapted into a Netflix series.

Stephanie Land's memoir, "Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive," is headed for Netflix.

The Missoula writer's book will be adapted into a series produced by Margot Robbie ("Suicide Squad," and "I, Tonya"), and John Wells and Molly Smith Metzler ("Shameless"), according to announcements on Wednesday.

In a phone interview, Land said she was thrilled with both the creators and the streaming service, which was accessible for her when she was raising a family alone. 

"When I was a single mom, like in the time of the book, I really wanted to see an authentic version of my life represented on screen, or even in a book or an article," she said. 

She believes they'll create "an authentic representation of what it's like to be a poor single mom."

After it was published in early 2019, "Maid" landed on the New York Times best-seller list, was recommended by authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Roxane Gay and most recently, former President Barack Obama.

Land chronicled her life starting in her 20s, when she left college after an unplanned pregnancy. She supported herself by cleaning houses and using government assistance. After gaining custody of her daughter, she moved to Missoula and studied creative writing at the University of Montana. She began to write freelance articles about her experiences as a working class single mother for national websites like the Guardian and Vox, and ultimately she wrote her full-length memoir.

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Smith Metzler is the writer, executive producer and showrunner, Variety reported. Robbie and Land are both listed as executive producers.

Channing Dungey, the vice president of Netflix's original series, told Variety, "'Maid' is a poignant portrait that chronicles Stephanie Land's strife and victories, and has the power to connect with our members around the world as they identify with her struggles and root for success."

The show was pitched and picked up without a script, pilot or cast attached, which is rare, Land said. The plan is to fictionalize her book, which will start and end with the first season, she said. They've discussed adding new characters, including women of color, to the story, and if it's picked up for a second season, other characters would take over entirely in an anthology style. Land said the team compared it to the way "Orange is the New Black" started with a white woman protagonist and then shifted away from her after the first season.

She said she loved the idea her memoir could be "an opener to have all these other stories come out."

Picking the right creative time was important to her, and there were multiple pitches and inquiries since the book was made available to option for production.

"It's honestly kind of a scary thing to hand off your story to someone to not only interpret it as they see fit, but to interpret it visually," she said. She said that many television shows and movies can stigmatize poverty, even unintentionally, through small details such as set design. She's a fan of "Shameless" and was impressed by Wells' attention to the issue in that show.

Smith Metzler's feelings about another aspect is key to her as well.

"Molly feels really strongly about showing how much emotional abuse can affect women, because that's not usually portrayed in media, especially on screen, it's usually a lot more physical," she said.

Together, they traveled to Port Townsend, Washington, where she lived in the earlier part of the book, and discussed her life and story many times. She plans on visiting with the writers when that process begins.

It's too early for details about the timeline, location or casting, although her daughter and stepdaughter "have many ideas and suggestions" about that last part.

Earlier this year, Obama included "Maid" on his summer reading list — it was one of 10 books, plus the collected works of Toni Morrison.

As a creative writing student, Land had often felt torn about the vastly different ideas of success in the writing world: a big-five publisher and the backing of publicists, or a small-press title that accumulated awards.

"Once Obama gave it the nod, it was like, 'This is a good book.' A lot of my imposter syndrome kind of faded with that," she said.

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