Rowayton’s Georgia Hunter Counts Her Blessings

above: Hunter with her husband Robert and their boys Wyatt and Ransom on set in Cardiz, Spain. The family had a cameo appearance in this scene with Logan Lerman (center), who plays Hunter’s grandfather in the series.

Georgia Hunter never could have imagined that her family’s story of survival during the Holocaust would feel so timely and relevant nearly a century later. With tensions remaining high as the situation in the Middle East continues to escalate, widespread antisemitism is at an all-time high and it can often feel as though history is repeating itself. The atrocities that occurred during World War II are an example of “what can happen when people stop seeing each other as human beings, and that’s happening again today,” says Hunter. “It is both scary and heartbreaking.”

Author Georgia Hunter with Dash – Portrait by Lacy Kiernan Carroll

A QUEST TO UNCOVER FAMILY HISTORY

In 1994, thanks to a high school English assignment, Hunter first learned that her grandfather Eddy (formerly Addy) was a Holocaust survivor. A few years later at a family reunion, Hunter learned bits and pieces from second generation relatives, many of whom were born at the end of or just after the war. “Their stories were unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I remember thinking ‘somebody needs to write them down,’ but I had no idea at the time that person would be me,” says Hunter. Nearly eight years later, still “unable to shake the notion” of capturing her family’s story in a more permanent way, Hunter set off to France and Brazil with a digital recorder and moleskin notebook to meet with as many family members as she could. “It was important to me to sit down face to face to talk to everyone, to collect as many oral histories as possible,” she says. In the meantime, Hunter was also searching for records in various archives, and traveling in the footsteps of her relatives across Europe and South America. She vividly recalls visiting her grandfather’s old home in Radom, Poland. That helped her imagine what life was like for him before the war. “If anyone has the chance to stand in the place where their ancestors once stood, I always say do it,” she says. “It’s a very powerful thing.”

Author Georgia Hunter on set in Bucharest with series producer/director Thomas Kail.

AN UNEXPECTED TWIST

“I didn’t know what shape or form my research would mold itself into, but as I began to piece the family narrative together, I was struck not only by how many relatives managed to survive, but also by how far and wide they scattered in order to do so,” explains Hunter. “Every single relative followed a different path to survival during the war.” Their journeys spanned four continents and at times they lost track of one another, but Hunter says they never gave up hope that they’d see each other again. Hunter felt that determination was important to document. “It took me years, but once I finally unearthed the story, I knew I wanted to preserve it in a way that could be easily retold— first and foremost for my kids and their kids and so on,” Hunter says. The idea of writing a book was born, and in 2017 Hunter published her historical novel, We Were the Lucky Ones.

TAKING A STORY TO THE SCREEN

In 2018, Hunter received a phone call from close friend and highly acclaimed Broadway director, Thomas Kail. “He said ‘Hey, pal, how would you like to partner with me to try to bring your story to the screen?’” Hunter recalls. When initially thinking about an adaptation for television, Hunter was worried about her work falling into the wrong hands, but she says she knew right away that the story “would be safe with Tommy.” Taking an active role in the project from start to finish, Hunter was involved in everything from the writers room to casting to post-production sound and color editing. She traveled frequently to Romania and southern Spain for shooting. The Hulu series is, at its core, a story of family, and, while set to a backdrop of the Holocaust, the themes of courage, perseverance, love and hope are ever present. “It is a human story told in a way that I hope audiences can connect and relate to,” says Hunter.

Stills from the series alongside photos from the Kurc family archive.

COMING SOON…

When asked what’s next, Hunter revealed that she’s in the process of writing her next historical novel, which is to be titled One Good Thing. Intrinsically drawn to the subject of the Holocaust, One Good Thing is set in the same era, but takes place in Italy and reveals the complex history of that country during the war as experienced by a young woman named Lili. While the plot has been fictionalized, it is also a story about overcoming adversity and coming face to face with deep fears and seemingly impossible challenges. Hunter hopes that this book, like her first, will “help inspire readers to have the courage to keep going, even when the world seems to be closing in around us.”

A scene from the series finale, recreated from a photograph taken by Hunter’s great-uncle, Jakob

Hunter resides in Rowayton with her two sons and her “research and travel wingman” husband Robert. Her mother, Isabelle, lives down the street and is a huge part of Hunter’s inspiration, consistently serving as an amazing editor and supporter of her daughter’s work. Hunter’s dog, an Aussie Shepherd named Dash, is her loyal officemate. “It really is a family affair,” she adds.

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