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‘Second Act’ Writer on Reinvention and Second Chances

Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas opens up about how her personal transformation inspired the new Jennifer Lopez film.

Jennifer Lopes and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas

What does it take to reinvent yourself

That’s the question at the heart of Second Act, a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens and Milo Ventimiglia. Lopez plays Maya, an assistant manager at a store, who feels trapped after being denied a much-deserved promotion because of her lack of a college education. 

When her best friend’s son gets her a corporate interview, Maya jumps at the chance to prove that street smarts can take her just as far as book smarts. 

It’s a movie about persistence and second chances, concepts the co-writer of the film Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas is very familiar with. 

“I lived it!” Goldsmith-Thomas told

Goldsmith-Thomas has worked in the entertainment industry for years and has reinvented her career several times. She started as a secretary and eventually became a top talent agent, representing actresses like Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lopez. Then she became a producer, working on films like Maid in Manhattan. In 2012 she became president of Lopez’s production company. 

“That sort of has been my path my whole life—being the architect of my own dreams,” Goldsmith-Thomas said. “And who’s to say that we should only have one dream in life?”

Writing the script for Second Act was another reinvention for the movie veteran. She had worked on many scripts during her career, but had never felt like she could call herself a screenwriter. 

“I realized the only thing stopping me from being a screenwriter was me,” she said. “And finally, I thought, ‘Well, this is who I am. Embrace it. Not everyone’s going to like it, but it’s your life. Don’t let them be the architects.’ When you realize that you are your only obstacle, that there will never be a mountain higher in front of you than the one you build—you become a mountain climber.”

As she reinvented herself yet again, Goldsmith-Thomas came up with the idea that would become Second Act. In working on the script she was inspired by Lopez, a close friend and colleague, who she believes embodies what it means to be limitless. 

“The genesis of this movie was my own reinvention, and it was inspired by Jennifer’s life,” she explained. 

With her screenwriting reinvention accomplished, Goldsmith-Thomas isn’t sure what’s next. 

“You can’t plan a dream,” she said. “You’ve got to let life inform it. Here’s the truth: we all think we’re driving. We’re not. Something else is in charge.”

Right now she’s focused on enjoying the release of her movie and staying open to whatever comes next. 

“Life is about the pivot,” she said. “Life [is about] trying to get better with each reinvention.”

Second Act opens in theaters December 21.

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