Team Emma by Andrea Zastrow | Script Revolution

Team Emma

When a recovering alcoholic learns his terminally ill ex-girlfriend gave birth to their daughter ten years prior, he must welcome the girl into his family and help her cope with her mother’s impending death.



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GENRE: Drama

FORMAT: Feature

NUTSHELL: "Stepmom" meets "Marriage Story"


From the shock (and joy) of discovering he has a daughter to folding her into his family and his heart, "Team Emma" portrays one man’s relationship with two women — all of whom must come together to give a young girl the best chance at a bright future. Despite his resentment at being kept in the dark for years, the flustered father, with help from his wise and compassionate wife, realizes he must forge an amicable relationship with his dying ex-girlfriend for the well-being of their daughter, so together they can prepare the girl for her mother’s death.

This emotional story highlights the importance of prioritizing the well-being of a child by not allowing past grievances to fester. Far from a tired “wicked stepmother” trope, it's a refreshing spin that celebrates loving stepparents by showing what a powerful difference they can make in a child’s life. A story of both love and forgiveness, you may have to grab a tissue, but you'll be smiling through those tears!


TROY (30s) – A software engineer who's been sober for nine years. He’s furious his ex-girlfriend lied to him about the child he truly wanted. A spirited and intense family man, he struggles to let go of hostility, but is a wonderful father.

JESSICA (30s) – Troy’s wife, a thoughtful and kind divorce attorney. Strong, Jessica takes control of the situation early. Determined to advocate for her new stepdaughter and be the stepmother she wishes she’d had, she genuinely tries to bond with the distressed girl. She’s the voice of reason and the calm in Troy's storm. 

ABBY (30s) – Troy’s terminally ill ex-girlfriend who was once a NASA engineer. After reconnecting with Troy and seeing he’s turned his life around, she gets a glimpse of the life she could have had. As her regrets set in, she grapples with making peace with him and herself as she tries to prepare their daughter for life without her.

EMMA (10) – Troy and Abby’s soccer-loving daughter who's circumstantially mature, but still has child-like spirit. Grateful to finally know her daddy, but loyal to her beloved mommy, she struggles to navigate her new, ever-changing life.

BRENDA (30s) – Abby’s slightly pretentious best friend. Bubbly and supportive, she strives to help Abby through difficult times, but is uncomfortable with death.

GENE (50s) – Troy's conservative, straight-shooter father. He's concerned Troy will relapse.

IRIS (50s) – Troy's kind, earthy mother. She has a "glass half-full" personality and is thrilled to have another granddaughter.


Set in modern-day Madison, Wisconsin, USA, single mother ABBY SMITH is crushed to learn her melanoma has metastasized to her brain — giving her less than a year to live. She and her daughter, EMMA, pack up their Florida home and move back to her college town where both Emma’s father, TROY LARSON, and Abby’s best friend, BRENDA, still live in hopes that one of them will care for Emma. An only child whose parents are deceased, Abby has little choice but to reconnect with Troy in order to secure their daughter’s future — and happiness — but he has no idea Emma exists since she told him she terminated the pregnancy due to his alcoholism.

Troy’s wife, JESSICA, an attorney, finds out Abby’s secret before Troy when protective Abby schedules a meeting with her at her law office to size her up. As Abby cautiously opens up about her circumstances and her urgent need to contact her ex-boyfriend, her story begins to sound very familiar to Jessica, who is well aware of her husband’s past heartbreak. Her hunch is confirmed when desperate Abby names now-sober Troy as Emma’s father and asks Jessica to both give him the startling news and open her own heart to Emma.

A family man who relishes fatherhood and has never forgotten his “unborn baby,” Troy's flabbergasted to find out about Emma. He quickly transitions from shock to fury since Abby’s lie cost him Emma’s birth, babyhood and first… everything. The complicated circumstances send him into a tailspin, challenging his hard-earned sobriety — to the alarm of his family. Troy’s hell-bent on confronting Abby, but rational Jessica takes control of the situation and urges him to take the high road for Emma’s sake. His anger is alleviated when he sees that Abby’s in poor health, but they still get off to a rocky start. Emma’s overjoyed to finally meet her daddy and her devoted grandparents, but notices the tension between her parents.

Jessica’s new role brings back painful memories of being treated like an inconvenience and a burden by her own selfish stepmother. She bends over backwards to welcome Emma into her home and her heart, but Emma’s loyalty to her mother leaves the little girl conflicted, and she puts up walls. Troy’s stress mounts as he straddles the delicate balance of bonding with Emma while also parenting her. After Abby’s seizure causes an accident, Emma’s forced to move in with her father full-time. Jessica insists they do right by Emma and move ailing Abby into their home for a few months as well — to Troy’s consternation and Abby’s delight. Emma’s anxiety soars as Abby deteriorates, making normal milestones and creating new memories especially bittersweet before Abby eventually moves into hospice.

Seeing that Troy is a responsible, loving father to Emma and his young sons gives Abby peace, but she realizes she made a huge mistake. At first, she tries to hide her regrets, but eventually professes her love to Troy — who struggles with the awkwardness of living with both the wife he cherishes and the woman he once intended to marry. While initially frosty toward Abby, as time passes, he feels sorry for her and is reminded of what he loved about her. Troy eventually admits he wasn’t a stellar boyfriend and owns that his bad choices pushed Abby away for good reason. When Jessica overhears their deeply intimate heart-to-heart conversation, she’s gutted and feels betrayed, which only heightens Troy’s inner turmoil — pushing him to the brink.

Despite complicated relationships, as the story progresses, Abby, Troy and Jessica ultimately reconcile their differences as they work together to help Emma adjust to a new chapter in her life upon Abby’s death.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Quarterfinalist - 2022 BlueCat Screenplay Competition
Quarterfinalist - 2021 Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition
Quarterfinalist - 2021 Emerging Screenwriters Genre Screenplay Competition
Quarterfinalist - 2021 BlueCat Screenplay Competition
Quarterfinalist - 2020 StoryPros International Screenplay Contest

Submitted: May 15, 2021
Last Updated: January 11, 2023

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The Writer: Andrea Zastrow

Greetings from Wausau, Wisconsin! A former proofreader, my life in script terms is firmly in the meaty, challenging second act. A North Central Wisconsin transplant from Iowa, the new isolation inspired me to pen a story that had ruminated inside me for over a decade, which stoked my creative spirit. It’s been an exciting journey! I write character-driven stories with heart that portray complicated family dynamics—mostly drama and grounded comedy. My scripts find the emotional story, exploring themes of loss, atonement, estrangement and regret along with hope, forgiveness and new beginnings. All of my scripts have Midwest flavor, but locations are flexible. A big believer in the art of... Go to bio

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