News Column

Hanford native joins writing team on 'Covert Affairs'

August 19, 2014

By Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee

Aug. 19--After years of working in theater and trying to write a movie screenplay, Joseph Sousa has moved into the world of television for the first time as one of the writers for "Covert Affairs."

The Hanford High School graduate has worked in some capacity on every script this year for the USA Network spy series. Tonight's episode is different. Sousa penned the tale, which will be played out by CIA agents Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) and Auggie Anderson (Fresno's Christopher Gorham).

Sousa traveled to the home base of "Covert Affairs" in Toronto when his script was filmed. He made sure to track down Gorham to talk about the series, acting and their close hometowns.

"I wanted to ask him how he was able to become such a successful actor. I wanted to know what he did to break in. I am in awe of his abilities," Sousa says.

Sousa traded his small California lifestyle for a life in New York with the intentions of becoming an actor. After appearing in a host of high school productions, he studied acting at Brooklyn College. His shining moment was a Shakespeare in the Park production of "Mother Courage" where he got to die at the feet of a singing Meryl Streep.

As he struggled to find work, Sousa noticed that actors who also were writers seemed to get more work. He took the skills he had cultivated in AP English classes at Hanford High and began to write.

"I started getting more traction as a writer. I knew the structure, having been an actor. Having done a lot of terrible plays, I knew what not to do. I did a play before I started writing that even as an actor, I could tell the scenes were terrible," Sousa says.

It looked like he was on his way to being a playwright when his production "Teeth of the Sons" won awards in Portland before being staged by the Barefoot Theatre Company, an Off-Broadway theater company.

Two things changed his career path: the recession dried up productions. And, in 2011, his wife was pregnant with twins.

"I went in to hear the heartbeats at 10 weeks. I walked in a playwright and walked out a screenwriter," Sousa says. "I needed health insurance."

He threw himself into a script for an action movie about Navy SEALs and Osama bin Laden. He paid the bills with a variety of jobs, from bellman to waiter.

Things changed when his agent brought him together with one of the "Covert Affairs" creators. In January, Sousa joined the "Covert Affairs" team. Most of the time he helps with the scripts headed up by other writers. To keep the show consistent, major ideas are developed long before scripts are written. It's the job of the writer to fill in the details.

Nine episodes into this season, Sousa got his chance. He won't say much about his script other than something big happens.

Sousa says the "Covert Affairs" actors contribute a lot to the final product.

"Piper has great instincts about (her character) Annie, and she will say when she thinks a line is something Annie wouldn't say," Sousa says. "Chris is the same way when it comes to Auggie."


"Covert Affairs," 10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, USA Network

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at


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Source: Fresno Bee, The (CA)

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