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When Art Must Imitate Life

Political election season. It’s the only time in life when I get riled up in a negative way. Quite frankly, I can’t take the antics of the GOP. This season is a little extra because the GOP ring leader is a horrible, hateful, dangerous person. I’ve been trying to banish the anger, but it keeps popping up. Why? Because that fool is playing with my people. He’s co-signing on the racist behavior of the KKK.

Racism never went anywhere. It has been dormant just under the surface lying in wait, percolating. Every now and then it spills into the streets of black America shooting the unarmed, turning a blind eye to poisoned water, raping downtrodden women. As horrific as those tragedies are, they pale in comparison to the racism that was once supported by the laws on the books. At one time it was LEGAL to lynch a black man for looking at a white woman the wrong way. It was LEGAL to kill a black person for reading a book. It was LEGAL to bar a black person from sitting in a restaurant. Should this Hitler incarnate take office, America will be on the fast track back to yesteryear. So yes, I’m angry. I’m angry about what he is trying to do to my people and other people of color as he claims to merely want to “make America great again,” all the while pissing on our heads and telling us it’s raining. So, you damn right I’m angry.

What do I do with this anger? At first, I tried to push it down into the bowels of my psyche. After all, I’m naturally an optimistic person. Spending my precious time being angry about things is rare and short lived. I usually rectify it by coming up with solutions. But THIS anger? It keeps springing back up, nagging at me, interrupting my peace of mind. And we can’t have that.

So, what can I do? How can I SOLVE this? I realized I have to do what any writer worth her salt does. I have to channel it into my writing. It just so happens that I’ve been in the process of writing a TV script that involves racism. I started writing it as a result of the multiple police shootings of unarmed black people. So, I was like, duh Rosalind, you’re already dealing with this topic. It is in my script where I will direct this anger. I will fill the pages with my despair and free my mind of the bondage. I will revolt, maim, murder with my keyboard.

With that said, I present you with the logline for my script:

A ruthless Civil Rights attorney who despises her mixed race lineage takes on a racially charged case that catapults the city of Los Angeles back to 1965 and forces her to rip open old family wounds.

© Rosalind Y. Jackson 2016

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A Gift Deferred

When I was a kid, I thought I would be a lawyer.  Not that I really knew what that meant at the time.  I was around five years old when some adult told me lawyers make a lot of money, so that’s what I should be.  That’s the worse thing that could have been said to me.  If only that person would have talked to me about following my passion…

As a kid, I had a natural attraction to words and stories.  I loved books and made good grades in English class without much effort.  My favorite school activities were book fairs and weekly trips to the library.  However, being a writer wasn’t something I thought about.

During my teenager years, I started writing short stories, poems and song lyrics, but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties when I started having a serious desire to be a writer.  I wanted to write novels like Zora Neale Hurston, Terri McMillian, and Jackie Collins.  Still, I did nothing about it. I continued to write short stories, poems, and song lyrics for my own pleasure, but I never really shared them with anybody; just a couple of friends.

It wasn’t until I had to declare a major in college when I finally knew that I wanted to be a professional writer.  It was an indirect decision though.  I was a music connoisseur and wanted to work in the music business as an Artist and Repertoire representative.  I know.  I was all over the place.  Anyway, at the time there was no such thing as majoring in the business side of music.  Schools only offered music degrees to musicians or people who wanted to teach music.  So, I picked the closest thing to the music business: Radio, Television and Film.

In one of the classes, we had to learn how to write television commercials.  I quickly got the hang of it.  That was all it took.  The screenwriting bug bit me.  I spent years learning the craft.  The journey has been long due to a nasty habit of procrastination, but I’m finally at the stage where I’m ready to cross into the professional arena.  I think I would have arrived at this stage when I was younger had I received encouragement as a child.  I’m not blaming anyone.  Back then, being a writer wasn’t thought of as a viable career.  Still, a little direction would have been golden.  Good thing it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

The next time I find myself with the opportunity to encourage a young person about their future, I’ll make it a point to let them know it’s okay to go for the gold as long as it involves their passion.

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Dear Fellow Screenwriters,

I know you are excited when you get permission to submit a script to a production company or studio. They’re going to flip open that script, be blown away by your writing, and call you up to ask if they can buy it for one million dollars, right? Of course!  So don’t blow it by sending crazy looking packages like this.

Crazy Package

It literally took me 3 minutes to open this package.  I had to whip out a box cutter and put my back into it.  The last thing you want to do is make it difficult to read your script.  Why?  Readers are swamped with mile high piles of scripts waiting to be read.  If they fee like they have to break into Ft. Knox in order to read a script, guess where it’s going.  The TRASH!

Sealed with tape and INDUSTRIAL staples.

I didn’t throw this script away though.  I don’t do that because as a fellow screenwriter, I have a heart and wouldn’t want anybody to throw my script away without reading it.  But, I was annoyed and tossed it to the side to read whenever I can get to it.  Most readers aren’t as nice as I am though.  Your script will be in the can before it’s in the can.  Get it?  No?  Sorry, I write drama, not comedy.