On a recent visit to CEL Solicitors, author and screenwriter, Tony Schumacher visited the firm for a CEL Talk on his journey from being a homeless police officer to a TV BAFTA nominated writer. Tony spoke about his life in Liverpool, his struggles with mental health, and how he pursued his passion for writing against all odds.
Growing up in Liverpool, Tony always aspired to be a writer, but didn’t consider it a possible career path given that he left school at 16 with no qualifications. After working several odd jobs around the world, including being a roofer, a bouncer, and an underpants salesman on a cruise ship, Tony returned to Liverpool to become a police officer.
Initially finding his policing career to be rewarding and exhilarating, Tony began to suffer from burnout a few years into the job. His marriage broke down, he withdrew from social circles, struggled with suicidal thoughts, and eventually became homeless. Tony decided at this point, with nothing to lose, that he would finally pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
Pursuing Your Passion
Tony’s journey to becoming a successful writer wasn’t easy as he suffered with severe writer’s block, but after a chance encounter with a magazine editor while driving a taxicab, Tony was prompted to write his first piece of work. Since then, he has published three novels and written the screenplay for the BBC One drama, The Responder.
The Responder, inspired by Tony’s time in the force, tells the story of Merseyside Police officer, PC Chris Carson, as he struggles to manage his deteriorating mental health whilst working numerous night shifts. Drawing in nearly 10 million viewers within just one month of its launch, Tony revealed that he felt extremely vulnerable with ‘millions of people watching [his] mental breakdown’. The series clearly resonated with many, including some of our staff. This is evident from the fact that The Responder has recently been nominated for 6 TV BAFTA’s, a testament to the show’s impact and success.
During his captivating talk, Tony highlighted to our staff the crucial importance of reaching out to someone if they are experiencing personal or work-related difficulties. Drawing from his own life experiences, he emphasised that stress is a ‘killer’ and that one cannot face it alone, so it is essential to speak to someone.
When asked their thoughts and key takeaways from Tony’s CEL Talk, our staff had nothing but positive responses.
‘Hearing Tony’s story was a great example of how you can always take the risk and do something to completely change your life around, the same way he did when he pursued his dream of being a writer.’
‘What I took away from the talk is to go for what you want in life and do not suffer if you are experiencing stress. You may not necessarily take a straight path to your goals, and you will hit ups and downs throughout, but keep pushing.’
‘Tony was very honest and open about his life struggles and how he reached rock bottom mentally. He was very humble about his success and seemed genuinely surprised at where he is now.’
‘I liked the statement about stress. He related it to himself and then directed it to us, saying “it’s honestly not worth it”… it felt reassuring.’
‘It’s never too late to pursue your passion. Tony took his writing seriously at the age of 40 and is now BAFTA nominated and is in a much better place in his life. It simply is never too late to start.’