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SJ Murray      

Emmy-Nominated Writer, Producer & Story Designer

In the tradition of all great storytellers, story design expert Sarah-Jane was born in Ireland. She was educated in France before venturing across the pond to get her BA in French and Philosophy from Auburn University. Then she received the Ecole Normale Supérieure-Lettres et Sciences Humaines diploma in French and Linguistics, followed by a PhD from Princeton University in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

A story analyst and consultant for the major studios in Hollywood, Sarah-Jane has also taught screenwriting and is a screenwriter herself. She joins an impressive list of successful screenwriters as an alumna of the UCLA professional program in screenwriting and studied under chairman Richard Walter.

She received a Southeast EMMY® nomination as writer and associate producer credits on Primary Concern, a PBS documentary on the looming primary care crisis in health care in the United States (2013-2014.) She is the writer and a producer of Ineffable, a documentary (in production) about what happens to us as a society when we push the fine arts to the margins, also intended for broadcast on PBS.

Sarah-Jane is a featured speaker at TEDx San Antonio "Ideas In Action." Her TEDx Talk Hardwired for Story explores what is happening in our brains when hearing or watching a story, and its effect on our lives.

She is writing a series of media rich ebooks on story rhetoric for Livingston+McKay's Nibbles peer-reviewed imprint. The first book in the series is Three Act What? Great Story Structure which lays the groundwork for the books to come.

In 2014, she received not one, but two silver Telly Awards for the trailer "Dance" for the documentary, Ineffable. In 2013, the International Academy of Visual Arts awarded her the Communicator Award of Distinction from over 6,000 entries worldwide. She has coached numerous writers (including two New York Times bestsellers) on the art of screenwriting, and is at work on several original narrative features of her own. A feature film script she was hired to rewrite goes into production in 2015.

Sarah-Jane lives in Austin, Texas, but travels frequently to both coasts. These days she can be found practicing her salsa routines when not teaching in the Honors College or Film & Digital Media Department at Baylor University or heading up the team of the first English translation from Old French of the Ovide Moralisé for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Speech Topics

Story Matters

Each keynote SJ gives is like a snowflake - no two are exactly alike. This is because SJ tailors each speech on the importance of story to the specific audience she's addressing - whether education, the humanities, non-profits, leadership, creativity, marketing, advertising, branding, screenwriting, filmmaking, technology, writing novels, or great texts.

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