With what’s happening now with race relations, Ferguson, etc., it’s incredibly timely. Before these laws were enacted, the proportions of blacks to whites in prison were fairly equal. It literally is the reason why the African-American community today has such distrust for the police. I won’t stop until this gets made. Period. It’s not about me or my writing career. It’s about the truth of our country’s history finally being told and reaching the largest audience possible. The book is now required reading in many universities across the country and was also adapted into a documentary, which appeared at Sundance in 2012 and was on PBS as well.
It’s an amazing body of work everyone should read and/or see. To get to work with the book’s author, Douglas A. Blackmon, was a true honor. I have so much respect for him and his eight-year journey of uncovering this part of our history and for generously allowing me to share in it.
——————⇒ What was your experience when placing in the Launch Pad Top 25?
We’ve had a lot of traction and people attached to Slavery by Another Name previously, but things fall by the wayside—that’s just the way Hollywood is—but it’s a project that I keep coming back to.
I’d just finished another re-write of it for like the zillionth time. A couple of friends who are professional writers read it and said—this is incredible; you bled on the page. So I thought, screw this, I’ve been hustling and pitching this sucker for so long. I’m going to enter some contests. I entered all the big-name competitions, including Tracking Board Launch Pad. I didn’t know much about Launch Pad before I entered, so I didn’t have any per-conceived ideas. I had zero expectations of any of them really.
The script did quite well in many of the contests. When I got the email from The Tracking Board it came as a surprise because it was so off my radar. I had completely forgotten I had entered! But I love things like that in life, because you have zero expectations and no idea what is to come.
I started getting emails from the team and absorbing with each email what placing in Launch Pad really means. And what this team of people at Tracking Board are about and what they’re mission is—to launch careers. Every other contest is just about that one script that you entered. That script gets sent out to people and that’s it. It’s like you live or die by that one writing sample.