Born in San Francisco and raised in San Pedro, California, Marlane Meyer is of Polynesian and Native American ( Cherokee) ancestry on her father's side and German and Swedish on her mother's side. She attended California State University-Long Beach where she studied under Murray Mednick, one of the founders of the Padua Hills Festival. She was the dramaturg for the Latino Actor's Workshop at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in 1986.
Meyer has a bicoastal career; she has worked in both Los Angeles and New York. In addition to a successful television writing career, including episodes of "Sirens" (ABC), the teleplay of "Better Off Dead" (Lifetime), "Life Stories" for NBC, and "Out of the Sixties" for HBO, she teaches playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. Meyer is a member of the New York Playwrights Lab, the Dramatists Guild, the Women's Project, PEN Center West, and the Polynesian Society, and she is an alumna of New Dramatists.
Marlane Meyer writes in a style that she describes as "extended realism"; it is a gritty, evocative melding of poetry with the underbelly of popular culture. Etta Jenks, for example, employs twenty-one scenes and fourteen characters to depict one woman's journey through the Los Angeles pornography business. Meyer gives the cliched tale of small-town-girl-arriving-in-the-big-city-to- pursue-her-dream-of-a-film-career a contemporary, ironic twist. Frustrated by her lack of success in the legitimate film industry, Etta falls prey to the money and success promised by the porno business. Through her intelligence, cynicism, and energy, Etta successfully wends her way around or over the pimps, hustlers,