While reading the book, “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, I came across a fun exercise that I thought I’d share with my readers and fellow writers. In this exercise, you are to create a space just for thinking. Turn off all of your electronic devices, spouses, children, emails, etc., and for 15 minutes non-stop….THINK! Of course, keep your journal near you as ideas or answers to questions you’ve been pondering may arise and you will want to write them down. Complete this exercise in your life, often as will you gain insights in your life and your creativity will flow like never before.
“Without great solitude no serious work is possible” – Pablo Picasso
1) What genre of writing do you enjoy and why? I mostly enjoy writing comedy and drama. I like to pull from my own crazy life experiences, like most writers. Those 2 genres allow me to execute that mirroring the best. I would love to one day tap into writing suspense.
2) Recently, I posted on my website about relocating to a new city from Chicago to pursue my goal as a full-time writer, what was that process like for you (moving from Chicago to Los Angeles)? I definitely had a rocky start. But relocating is always one of those things where if you’re thinking about it, you just have to go for it. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself dragging it out and making it a year long process. I knew I wanted to move to LA immediately after graduating from undergrad, because at the time there wasn’t much production work in Chicago. I literally packed a suitcase and left with $600 to my name. I gave myself 2 weeks to find employment. I remember taking some shitty ass door-to- door sales job that I found on Craigslist. In the interview they tricked me and told me it was a fun promotions job and you could make all of this money. At the same time I was interning for a Casting Director in Chicago while working on BET’s Sunday Best. She told me to look her up whenever I came to LA, so i did. The first day of the sales job they finally told me it was commissioned based and the manager they paired me with was riding around on E and didn’t have money to fill it up! I was like “make all this money my ass!!” As soon as we went for lunch, I lied to them and told them I landed a job. I left in the middle of the lunch and headed to my internship. I busted my ass for them over the next couple of days and ended up being hired full-time by the end of the last day of my two-week deadline! Fast-forward almost 10 years and I’ve been blessed to consistently work in entertainment ever since.3) Working in Hollywood, what has been the most challenging obstacles, if any, that you’ve encountered? Well working in freelance definitely has its challenges. Simply because you never exactly know where your next check is going to come from once you wrap a show. Because of this you can find yourself getting stuck at certain companies with very little room for growth, because you’re afraid to leave a consistent paycheck. When I decided to leave a company I was with for almost three years it was hard to find work on other shows, because most of my contacts and networking included people from the company I left. It took me about eight months to find work again. During that time, I experienced homelessness. Couch surfing on friend’s couches, sleeping in my car and even moving back home for a few months. But I had to go through that to understand the importance of networking outside of your comfort zone.4) What networking tips can you provide for writers who want to write or produce for film or television shows in this industry? Don’t be afraid to be the squeaky wheel!!! If someone gives you their contact info, follow up! And be persistent with it, because people get busy. Attend mixers, forums and panel discussions. Also, take those jobs that will get you in the door. I remember I took a few internships well into my 20s, mostly because I was trying to get my foot in the door. Never feel like you’re too big to take an assistant job or internship, because they usually end up turning into jobs. I remember at one point I wanted to get experience working on music videos. I literally emailed this producer who’s info I found on Google and spoke from the heart about wanting go get my feet wet. She had me come in to “intern.” I went above and beyond on that shoot, so she brought me back for paid positions on future shoots. Just get out there!5) Tell us more about your digital comedy series, “Chronicles of a Dark Child in Hollywood” (ex., How did you come with the idea? What was the casting process like? How long does it take to produce an episode? Do you get permits for shooting at your locations? ) I came up with the idea back in 2012. Initially I wanted it to be a book in the format similar to “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” I’ve always wanted to tell my hair story that you will see in Episode 1 of the series. I figured I couldn’t be alone. When I told my story to a few friends, they were all like “I’ve got TONS of stories!!!” So I wanted to create a platform for other POCs in the entertainment industry to tell their stories as well. But because life happened…. I just sat on the idea for a while. Fast forward to summer 2017, i reached this point in my life where I was like “I work on so hard on other people’s ideas and yet I have nothing to really show for myself.” Yes I have a laundry list of show credits, but none of those shows are mine. I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t let 2018 come without accomplishing some of my personal goals. So because I had been in this visual space with creating digital content for the internet, I decided “Hey! Why not turn Chronicles into a digital series instead of a book?” I was like I can keep it simple and costs low by literally shooting it on my phone! I met one of the recurring actors Memry Wilson, who plays the younger me in the first episode, through a mutual friend. She was so perfect for the role and we clicked instantly! She was down to be a part of the project because she appreciated what was I was trying to do and the message I was trying to get out there. The same applied for everyone else you see in the series, both actors and storytellers. So there wasn’t much of a casting process. They all loaned their talents and stories because it was me and because of the end goal, which is to change the narrative for POCs everywhere by creating a dialogue. And for that I’m forever grateful. Although the series highlights stories told by people in the entertainment industry, POCs anywhere can relate. i just used Hollywood as the platform because it’s my everyday reality. But there’s chronicles of a dark child in Academia, Corporate America, etc. We all have stories to share about racial adversities and injustices we’re faced with on a constant base and I want Chronicles to help with changing those narratives. Each episode usually takes a weekend to shoot and edit. I’m lucky to have a really good friend from high school edit the episodes. She was totally on board with the concept from jump. We’re always on the same page with humor and creatively. As for the locations, again luck! lol! I’ve honestly been fortunate enough to have a friends like Jason, who plays the lead white guy in each episode, who are nice enough to let me use their place to shoot. I’m thankful for dope ass friends and the people I’ve met along the way who are down to share their stories for a cause.6) How can people connect with you on social media? People can follow my personal page on Instagram: @ms_deemarie. They can also find my series on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter via @darkchildnhwood.
In life, no matter what you do to get ahead, there’s going to be something or someone that will try to get you off track…. keep moving forward.
I’m 12 years old, a black female, charged with: Runaway. I’m not a criminal, but I’m detained in the juvenile system until the DCFS system, picks me up. I’m not a criminal. The foster home where I live doesn’t protect, provide or feed me. The owner only provides a roof over my head and for that, I’m expected to be thankful. My biological, mother doesn’t want me, and she lives just around the corner.
My tears are a reflection of the many sleepless nights I endure and I’m hungry because I haven’t eaten in days, my foster mother locks up all the food in the kitchen pantry instead of feeding me. My foster mother gets $600 a month for each child that she’s supposed to take care of. There’s seven of us that lives in this elegant mansion, so you do the math.
I’m not a criminal! I’m a young black girl caught up in two systems, just trying to survive. I’m 12 years old, I’m not old enough to work to provide for myself. So don’t point your fingers or look down on me because I smell bad some days, my hair isn’t combed, I let grown men and women touch me just so that I can have a place to lay my head some nights, or get a decent meal, and sometimes, I sell my body just to have access to a hot shower. The only affection I can feel is at the hands of a grown man who tears my innocence apart night after night. Sometimes, the men are nice to me and sometimes they are mean and force themselves on me.
I’m not a criminal! I’m not out here robbing people. I’m just hustling to survive. My biological mother doesn’t want me, my foster mother doesn’t take care of me, so I runaway and continue to be a case number in DCFS custody and a docket number in the juvenile justice system. I’m a 12 year old, black female charged with being a runaway.
My body reeks of sexually transmitted diseases. My father raped me when I was seven, sometimes, I wonder why was I even born? The pain I feel, no one knows because, I hide it behind my intelligence. I’m not dumb like people think. It’s not my fault, my foster mom won’t let me attend school. I found words in a book that said, “Why steep in someone else’s disappointment? Why linger where you aren’t wanted?” But what if that someone’s, disappointment is my mere presence? What if where I linger for food and shelter, is the same place that keeps me incarcerated? I’m not a criminal, I just want to live my life, I’m only 12 years old.
My case worker tries to help me, but there’s not enough resources in my community. The judges don’t see me as I stand in the courtroom, because if you looked closer at me, you would see my cries for help through my silence. The children and family advocates are just seat fillers in the courtroom. I can’t enter a guilty plea, because I’m not a criminal. I’m a 12 year old, black female, charged with being a runaway, can you help me?
This short story was inspired by all the black girls who are victims of sextrafficking, abuse and neglect. You can help donate and support organizations that help young girls who are victims of sextrafficking by clicking the hashtag #Not4Sale
Directions: Continue writing this short story. Think about the sights and sounds you would here, while you were laying or walking on a beach.
Sitting still in the dark night. I can feel the cool breeze on my arms. I can hear the sounds of the waves rush against the earth’s rocks. The sand has become a blanket, unto my feet. The Cicadas sing to me, lullabies as I look out at the sky’s….