WENDY CALHOUN INKS DEAL WITH WARNER BROS. TELEVISION
Congrats are in order for one of our favorite writer / producers, Wendy Calhoun. As reported in Deadline, Wendy recently inked a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Television. You may remember Wendy Calhoun for her Co-Executive Producer work on Empire but she has stayed busy since then. She was most recently a consulting producer for the Grey’s Anatomy Spin-off Station 19. Dedicated to the business, Wendy has developed projects for Netflix, FX, AND 20TH TV Studios and more.
She is also a Writers Guild of America Award nominee for her work on Nashville and Justified. And, she served as a producer on ABC’s Revenge series.
I had the opportunity to meet Wendy a few years ago while she was working on Empire. In a room full of writers, she explained to us how important it was to be organized and to work in various areas for your craft. She shared with us her experience working in theater as well as in reality TV. Many writers who desire to work in the narrative space were taken aback by her work in reality TV. But, I remember Wendy explaining that story is story. Whatever you’re writing, whether it be a book, reality tv, or a medical drama, great shows need great stories.
Wendy shared with us one of the old Empire scripts and explained story development and character arcs. She emphasized the importance of story development and knowing our characters. I remember speaking to other writers in the room and we were all blown away by what she shared with us.
From that event with Wendy at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, I remembered these three things.
The best thing a writer can do for him or herself is to become a better writer.
We need complex characters and great storylines.
Utilize all of your writing experiences to become a better writer.
Congratulations Wendy! You deserve the best. Here are the links to follow Wendy on Twitter and Instagram.
Writer, Comedian and Producer, Wanda Sykes parted ways with the Roseanne show. According to a tweet from Wanda, herself, she’s not returning to Season 2 of Roseanne. Though no further explanation was offered, many suggest Wanda’s departure is in direct relation to Roseanne tweeting that Valerie Jarrett, one of President Obama’s former aides looks like “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes had a baby.” Yep, Roseanne tweeted that.
As much as we want to, “keep black folk working,” we appreciate Wanda for stepping off of the Roseanne show. Real power is being able to walk away from situations that you deem inappropriate or out of sync for your brand and your life. Real power is being able to pay your bills even though you turned down some money. To our knowledge, Wanda has not stated why she’s leaving. But, still, if we can read between the lines, we know that tweet wasn’t cool.
And at the end of the day, no matter why Wanda stepped off, we respect her for it.
Though Roseanne has since stated she was “joking,” the joke was offensive. And, it speaks to Roseanne’s mindset. For Roseanne to make such a vile statement, she must think many black people look like primates. So, it’s not simply what Roseanne said about President Obama’s former adviser, its the likelihood that she thinks like that about black people on a whole. That’s sad and not deserving of an association with ABC who has tons of black and brown viewers.
We will continue to support Wanda Sykes and all of her comedic, producing and writing endeavors. Wanda can reach out to us at any time to help her promote her projects. And, we will remain watchful of ABC and see how they handle this situation. As for Roseanne…
We will not be watching your show, no matter how many times they reboot it, resuscitate it, and bring it back to life.
Our team fell in love with The New Adult, a black web series created by Los Angeles based Writer / Director Katherine Murray Satchell. The series follows Amber, a millennial, who is struggling with becoming an adult, hence the title, “The New Adult.” The first season was shot in 16 days and Katherine’s take on story is refreshing. We interviewed her to learn about the inspiration behind The New Adult and introduce this talented writer / director to our readers.
Black Web Series Spotlight
Katherine was motivated to write The New Adult in what she calls, “the second wave of my quarter life crisis.” She explains, “I was having trouble adjusting to adulthood. I started to think about my peers in their late 20s who were going through the same thing. We didn’t know what we were doing, where we were going in our lives. Then, I started thinking about how my generation was raised, and how some of us were coddled so much, that we weren’t properly trained to survive in the real world. I thought to myself, how funny would it be if someone in their 30s was put into that situation? Someone who was coddled, spoiled, and just didn’t have their shit together?”
To say Amber doesn’t have it together is the understatement of the decade. She is hilariously clueless and unbelievable inept. And yet you believe in her, you route for her, and sometimes you scratch your head wondering, “Who did this to their child?”
All the way from Philadelphia
Katherine admits Amber’s character is influenced by a combination of people that she grew up around. A Philadelphia native, Katherine attended a diverse high school and in the city that spawned Will Smith, Eve, Boyz II Men, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Roots, she fell in love with alt-rock. How’s that for a mind bender? But it’s not simply the alt-rock influence which shaped Katherine and thereby Amber, it’s the 6 foot black girl from high school who’s still fresh in her mind today.
“I met this girl and she blew my mind. She was black, six feet tall, with red streaks in her hair, and a punk rock/anime look going on…”
Katherine continues, “I thought she was amazing! I didn’t know there were black girls like that in the world. Her outward appearance and her outspoken, fun personality was a huge influence on Amber’s character.”
Amber’s character makes the “New Adult” one of the best web series ever. Like many directors who praise their lead actors, Katherine is no different. She beams talking about Amber Morse who plays the titular character, “She is an immensely talented actress and musician, and has the patience of a flood. I’m very fortunate to have her be a part of the series. She just got the show right away, and trusted me enough to be down for whatever. She’s great!”
A versatile writer, Katherine is interested in “projects that question generational standards, stories about small pockets of the Black community (goths, witches, nerds), and the occasional love story. All of this with at least a shred of humor.”
Katherine learned many things when shooting the first season of The New Adult but this nugget we had to share,
“Making a web series is hard, you guys. Like, seriously. Anyone who tells you it’s a piece of cake is full of shit…”
She continues, “It’s a commitment, it’s the monkey on your back, it’s a nightmare, and it’ll push you to the edge of your sanity. But it’s so rewarding and satisfying to say “That’s a wrap on season 1”. That monkey jumps off your back for like five minutes before it starts clawing at your toes again.”
A committed writer who knows how to manage her schedule, believes in writer’s groups and is thankful for having a strong production background, Katherine’s work is unique, insightful and funny as hell. Please watch the entire first season of The New Adult when you get a chance. The pilot is below.
Writer / Director / Producer Prince Domonick who is currently in pre-production for his first feature film, Thick Water, shares how to take a short film to feature status, how he hopes his work will connect with audiences and what has inspired him on his career path. Anybody with a short film who wants to turn it to a feature, read below.
How did you come to create Thick Water as a feature?
I always knew that I wanted to make a feature film. The short film, Thick Water, was a thesis project for my graduate degree. Thick Water was inspired by my personal life experience, the social and political climate we live in and my love for music. I decided to use the short film as a concept piece to get some investors and I found some. I won’t say it was easy. But that’s how it happened.
How do you hope your work will connect with people?
I hope my work makes people stop and think introspectively and reflectively. I want to create conversation. I want to challenge how we view the world we live in through my work.
I used to act out in school when I was a child mainly because I had a HUGE imagination. I always felt misunderstood and out of place which would cause me to act out and misbehave. However, I always thrived leaps and bounds over everyone else in art and music classes. One day my teacher showed up at my house after a disciplinary situation but she came with encouraging words. She told my parents that she saw me becoming a great Playwright one day because my imagination was so big. That always stuck with me and my parents ’til this day.
Writer / Director / Producer
What inspired you to take this career path and were you inspired by anyone in the industry?
I always knew I wanted to be a Director ever since I was a child. I have always had supporting parents to encourage me along the way. I study success stories and I’ve learned that everyone has their own path. Don’t try to follow someone else’s path, because odds are the results will not be the same. Forge your own. That being said I am inspired by Producer Devon Franklin and his faith journey in Hollywood. I’m inspired by the business empire of Tyler Perry and his rags to riches story. I’m inspired by George Lucas and his genius of fantasy form storytelling and literally taking us to worlds we could never imagine. And my man Ryan Coogler, and his realistic gritty form of storytelling and all his success at such a young age.
What advice do you have for students and young professionals who may be inspired by your work?
It’s not easy, many days you will have to be your own cheerleader, and encourage yourself. But if you know this is what you are suppose to be doing keep pushing. Expect 100,0000 ‘No’s’ before you hear 1 ‘Yes.’ And lastly, remember there are thousands of people chasing the same dream, but there is only ONE YOU! What God has for you is for you, and nobody else but YOU!