Mother takes experience with ‘nanny from Hell’and turns it into a movie
By Diane Welch
Move over Mary Poppins. There is a nanny out there who is stealing your limelight. But this nanny, far from being practically perfect in every way, isn’t only stealing the limelight, she’s extorting money, endangering children, and lies and cheats to get hired. In short, she is the nanny from Hell.
Four years ago, 33-year-old Chrisanna Northrup unknowingly hired "Hell’s nanny" to watch over her three young children. Like many mothers with full-time careers, Northrup was looking for help in her family home and ran an ad in the local paper seeking the services of a nanny. The chain of events that followed — when Northrup hired whom she thought was the practically perfect nanny — became a brief living nightmare for the family of five.
In a bold move Northrup took this stranger than fiction story, and channeling it into a creative venting of sorts, turned it into a screenplay. Now her first-ever script, Silver, marketed without an agent, is going to be made into a movie.
"I’ve always enjoyed writing," said Northrup, who had previously planned on writing a book about balancing motherhood and a career, "but this story just had to be made public. I don’t want other people having to experience what we went through." In telling her story, Northrup also hopes to try to change the laws that protected a criminal like her nanny.
This nightmarish experience all started when the newspaper ad she ran attracted the attention of a young 22-year-old who perfectly fit Northrup’s profile for the position. "We like to hire college-age girls who were maybe taking time off school," Northrup explained. The girl she hired, who was attractive and well groomed, presented herself as just that. "She said that she had gone to Georgetown and wanted to write children’s books," said Northrup. "She was exactly the type of nanny that I was looking for."
What Northrup did not know was that she had just hired a clever con artist with fake references and a criminal record.
For six weeks Northrup’s family endured one bizarre event after another. After only two weeks of employment, red flags were being raised. She would turn up the heat in the home, escalating the energy bill, and would wear Northrup’s clothing and jewelry, Northrup said. "Small things, admittedly, which she always had an excuse for," said Northrup, "enough to cause concern but not enough to fire her." Then when Northrup came home from work one day, her then three-month- old baby, Luke, had suffered head trauma. "His eyes were dilated, and had a huge bump on his head," Northrup recalled. The nanny said that he had rolled off the sofa, but Northrup was not convinced. An emergency room CAT scan revealed bruising of the brain. This was the last straw. The nanny was fired.
However, the story did not end there. In a cunning move, the live-in nanny cried foul, citing laws for tenant’s rights. They could not throw her out without 30 days notice, she said. Having consulted an attorney, the Northrups were horrified to discover that she was right.
"We were backed up against the wall," said Northrup. "She wrote a letter to us explaining how we should pay her $5,000 for moving expenses, etc., but my husband was very adamant about not paying her." Not willing to give into her extortion, the nanny stayed her 30 days. "I had the three kids sleep in our bedroom at night, and we kept a baseball bat by our bed," Northrup said.
Finally, the nanny moved on and it was only after her dismissal that Northrup began to investigate her background closely. Her references, it turned out,, were from family members posing as prior employees. She had numerous aliases and had been convicted of drunken driving. She had also stolen credit cards from an elderly lady that she been caring for. Consequently, a young man who was a concerned neighbor of the elderly lady pressed charges against the nanny for elderly abuse and credit card fraud. Then when he was subsequently found fatally shot in Mexico , Mark and Chrisanna Northrup feared for their lives.
Although later, the murder turned out to be unconnected to the nanny, at the time the incident caused sleepless nights for the Northrups. But the whole living hell spurred Northrup’s innate gift for writing and rather than seek revenge, she sought a creative outlet for her rage.
Northrup wrote her screenplay in record time. It caught the attention of movie producers when Northrup ran an advertisement in the Variety and Hollywood Reporter. The ad read: "She’s sweet. She’s beautiful. She’s a conniving murderer. And she’s watching your children. Script for sale."
Vine Entertainment purchased the screenplay for an impressive six figures, with a share of box office takings after the film’s release. It was an incredible coup for Northrup who had no prior experience with writing a screenplay. Currently, casting director Victoria Burrows, whose prior films include “The Lord of the Rings,” is in the process of casting for the movie. She has received at least 12,000 headshots of actors interested in working on the film and Amanda Brooks has been tentatively cast as "Silver," the title of the movie and the fictitious name of the nanny.
Northrup, a Virginia transplant, said that when she was 21, "I just jumped in my jeep and drove to California ." Seeking the California dream of breaking into the movies initially lured Northrup west. But marrying husband, Mark, and raising her children, now 11-year-old, Jake, Shelby, 9, and Luke, 7, took priority. Now Northrup, currently employed full time with a financial firm, has a game plan that could make her dream a reality. "I'm looking to explore the book world now," she said. Screenplay writing is gaining Northrup great exposure and could soon expand her writing career.
Writing primarily at night, Northrup, has advice for fledgling writers who want to follow their dream, "You can do this, just go for it!" When asked if she had any advice for professionals who are looking to hire home help, she responded firmly, "Run a credit report. It tells a lot about the integrity of a person." And as this young woman is still out there, possibly conning more unsuspecting victims, it sounds like excellent advice.