From the artist...
Because 2020 is the best show ever written, I’ll use it to highlight my experiences and multi-cultural sensibilities.
I spent the last weeks of 2019 writing a comedy feature. Having spent most of that year battling depression, I was trying to write my way out of it. I entered the new year working on a rewrite, as well as a new comedy pilot. I was optimistic, determined and prepared for some wins.
Then Covid-19 hit.
I didn’t fear the illness as I successfully battled the flu. And quite frankly, the only thing that scared me more than finding a lump in my breast was the surgery to have it removed. It’s felt much easier to keep something from getting into my body than to having to get something out. Certainly, I could wear a mask and wash my hands.
Then outside closed.
I was relieved at first. I was scheduled for three weddings and a baby shower that I didn’t want to attend, all before June. Now I had time to write with no interruptions. But the walls started closing in. It was a familiar feeling. Around 2010, during my first stint in Los Angeles, I had a bachelor apartment in Hollywood. I only left home for necessities. I had no car and no money, and it was too hot to run through tourists on Hollywood Blvd chasing the metro. LA residents spend roughly $75 every time they leave the house. I made up that statistic but you get it. My studio apartment went from being a refuge to feeling like a prison.
Then the economy crashed.
I’ve been through that as well. I graduated from college into a recession. As an actor, I’ve learned to live below my means. Freelancing is a skillset I mastered in Atlanta, when I pursued survival jobs that were reliable and flexible. In 2014 it was substitute teaching. By 2015, I was working as a stand-in. In 2016, I founded a social media management company. I could make money as long as I had wifi. In 2017, I returned to Los Angeles with a roster of clients. For the brands I represent, the nationwide lockdown turned me into an essential worker. I don’t make as much as the folks on Only Fans but I get to keep my clothes on.
Then both the George Floyd and Amy Cooper videos surfaced on the same day.
Overnight the world was forced to deal with something that has suffocated black people for more than 400 years: racism. I’ve endured microaggressions like having women clutch their purses when I walk by, not having the door held for me in my apartment building by whites and Asians, granting requests to be more urban during auditions, and my favorite, taking the notes that my writing sounds too much like Insecure or Atlanta because that’s the only experience the reader has with black shows. So now I get to protest for equal rights. Again.
And I get to do it all in a mask, which makes me look like a threat.
Meanwhile, corporations offer apologies, cities are painting streets yellow, and all I’d really like to know is when did black pain become the new currency? Where was this ‘support’ when countless black people were murdered on and off camera? What will Hollywood do to tell more authentic stories that not only shape the perception of blacks in the public, but also employ us in rooms where 67% of shows have no black writers at all? I did not make up that statistic.
The sudden interest in my work may be fueled by this moment in time. But my perspective and sensibility have always been needed. Black women are simultaneously the most lucrative and underserved demographics in entertainment. My entire existence has prepared me for this. So I’m here, ready, vulnerable, and generous. Because in reality, 2020 has taught me nothing at all.
Everybody else is just late to the party.
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