Susan Seidelman began her career studying fashion design at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Soon realizing that she had no interest in spending time behind a sewing machine, she turned to her love of film as a possible career direction. After taking a few film classes and serving as a production assistant at a local television station, Seidelman enrolled in New York University’s film program in 1974. She soon directed a number of short films, winning a student Academy Award for And You Act Like One Too (1976).
After graduating, she did freelance editing work and assisted on television commercials while attempting to raise funds for a feature. Eventually, she pooled $80,000 from her own funds and various friends to produce and direct her first feature film, Smithereens (1982). This paved the way for her greatest screen success, Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), featuring Madonna on the cusp of superstardom. Both films hinged around women confronting society’s requirements to conform to traditional female roles by pursuing their own dreams. This central thesis also informed all of Seidelmen’s subsequent work, including the comedies Making Mr. Right (1987) and She-Devil (1989), as well as the pilot for Sex and the City (HBO, 1998-2004) and Boynton Beach Club (2005) which honed its focus to the lives of women in their senior years.