BERLIN – Stephen Decatur High School and Salisbury University alumna Erica (Cramer) Messer has signed a two-year production deal with ABC Studios to develop original dramatic series through her new production company.
Messer and her team at Erica Messer Productions will produce network projects while she continues her seventh year as showrunner for “Criminal Minds.”
“I’m not leaving that show behind, so much as expanding my voice and telling new stories,” she said.
Messer, an executive producer for “Criminal Minds” and creator for “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders”, has been part of “Criminal Minds” since its first season and will continue to lead the show into its 13th season.
“It’s an extraordinary thing to be on something for 13 years and to see how much this show has changed and grown,” she said. “Nothing can stay the same for 13 years, so it has been a once-in-a-career experience.”
Messer moved from Ocean City to Los Angeles in the early 90s to pursue a career in television production. After working as an assistant in drama development at FOX, and learning the ins and outs of character development on “Party of Five”, she worked as a writer for “Alias”, “The OC” and “Charmed” before landing a job on “Criminal Minds.”
“At the end of this season we will hit 299 episodes,” she said. “The hope is that we get a 14th season and we get to launch it with our 300th episode.”
Though Messer left the area in the early 90s, she said her experiences at Ocean City Elementary School, Stephen Decatur High School and Salisbury University guided her in her career endeavors.
Messer said she was a fourth-grade student at Ocean City Elementary when she first realized her knack for writing and storytelling.
Her first book, prompted by a class assignment, told the tales of a cucumber king and his subjects in a land called Pickleberry Place.
“I think we are all storytellers,” she said. “I just leaned into it a little more than I did math or science.”
Messer attributed her passion for writing and character development to Gwen Lehman, her drama and psychology teacher while at Stephen Decatur.
“I think Gwen was such an extraordinary creative force,” she said.
While at Salisbury University, Messer studied communication arts with a minor in psychology and sociology.
“I was naturally drawn to the psychology of what makes people do what they do,” she said, “so I kind of lean into that in the storytelling of ‘Criminal Minds.’”
Shortly after graduation, Messer said she and her now-husband, Kenneth Messer, moved to Los Angeles to pursue their careers.
“Once I got to Los Angeles, I made a deal with myself,” she said. “I didn’t want to have a job that I could have done in Maryland … I wanted to be in entertainment.”
While she has risen through the ranks of the entertainment industry over the past two decades, Messer said she feels like she is just getting started.
“I feel like I am just getting going,” she said. “I know that seems silly, but there is this energy about it and I think that it’s great to be able to feel fresh after 21 years.”
Messer expressed her enthusiasm for working on new projects while continuing “Criminal Minds.”
“I think I want to be able to continue to create characters that people want to invite into their living rooms every week,” she said.
Messer added that her experiences at different shows have taught her to enjoy the journey and brought her to where she is now.
“I really believe in the motto ‘Slow and steady wins the race,’” she said. “You are where you are supposed to be.”