067 – LaMont Ferrell (Let’s Stay Together, Reed Between the Lines)

Acting, directing, writing, producing, teaching, stand-up comedy… LaMont Ferrell wears a lot of hats!

Originally from Philadelphia, LaMont Ferrell has been entertaining audiences for many years. He has performed for a variety of ages and ethnicities across the US, and around the world. A local magazine describes his act as, “Energetic, creative and original, but most of all just plain funny.”

After winning the 1996 Comic Relief Comedy Festival’s “Funniest New Comic” Award, he took his comedic writing talents to TV, and started writing for various sitcoms such as BET’s ‘Nothin’ But a Woman,’ the WB’s The Parent ’Hood and UPN’s Moesha. He won The Media Projects 2000 Shine Award for a Moesha episode he co-wrote.

LaMont is a busy pilot writer, having had sales to the Fox Network, TBS, and the UPN Network. He also works in motion picture writing, having been hired to punch up the movie, The Cookout, and is in pre-production for Family Business, a film based on the true story of his family’s restaurant business in Philadelphia.

In 2003, LaMont formed his own production company, Just Jokes Entertainment, and produced and directed three volumes of his own stand-up comedy DVD series. ‘LaMont Ferrell’s Just Jokes Comedy Tour’ features himself, several national known comedians and hilarious skits. The DVD is available online at www.justjokesentertainment.com, Netflix.com and various media outlets around the country.

He is currently a writer for BET’s series Reed Between the Lines and Let’s Stay Together. Also, you might have seen him in his recurring role on the hit NBC show, The Office.

In his interview, LaMont discusses how to train your observational skills, being a “clean” comic, and being an entrepreneur in today’s market.

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

060 – Devon Shepard (MADtv, Weeds)

From Fresh Prince of Bel Air to Weeds, Devon K. Shepard has been a busy TV writer/producer for the last 23 years. He’s full of wisdom on what made that possible!

Devon K. Shepard was born in South Central California. From a very early age, he always had a love of television and film. His parents recognized this love, so on Saturday afternoons, they would drop Devon, his younger brother and older sister at the local movie theater where they would watch movies all day long.

That love of movie translated into a Radio, Television and Film degree from Cal State Northridge. Upon graduation, Devon was hired as a music intern for the television magazine show, Entertainment Tonight. His big break, however, came when he met Rob Edwards (The Princess and the Frog) at a barber shop in South Central California. Because he was always cracking jokes on whomever sat in the barber chair, Rob thought that he was funny and asked him to interview for a writer’s trainee job for a show called Out All Night starring Patti LaBelle, Vivica A. Fox and Morris Chestnut. Devon was hired for the job and has been working in television ever since.

Devon’s credits include The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, MADtv, Everybody Hates Chris, Weeds and this year’s hot new show, House Of Lies. Devon made his directorial and acting debut in a short film, My Brother’s Keeper, which he also wrote. Devon is married to Ranada Shepard, a writer in her own right, and they reside in Chatsworth, California, with their three sons.

In his interview, Devon talks about how crucial it is to have a great work ethic, to elevate your craft no matter what stage you’re at, to keep evolving your writing for current issues, and to keep abreast of technological changes like social media and new production techniques. He also talks about researching other cultures to make your characters more believable, and writing material in different genres so you’re not pigeon-holed.

Inspired by Norman Lear and John Hughes, Devon values well crafted & developed characters, and has moved away from comedy to dramatic television.

Follow Devon Shepard on Twitter: @DevonShepard

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

058 – Janine Sherman Barrois (Criminal Minds, ER, Third Watch)

“The best writers in town have everything in their arsenal.” Janine Sherman Barrois is our guest this week, and she knows what she’s talking about!

After growing up in Massachusetts, Janine Sherman Barrois moved to Virginia in high school, and began writing for the school paper. She quickly learned that her love was not of reporting facts, but of telling stories. She attended Howard University, where on the advice of her roommate’s dad, director Gilbert Moses, she did a major in English, and a minor in film, so she could read more books.

She moved to Los Angeles… Janine is quick to remind the viewer that it took a few years of odd jobs before she was able to land her first staff gig. An important step along the way was the Warner Bros. Writers Workshop… she had previously been denied, but succeeded in landing a place in the workshop when she paired up with a writing partner.

She and her writing partner got several TV comedy staff gigs, including Lush Life, Eddie Murphy’s The PJ’s, and The Jamie Foxx Show. Then, after getting some attention from a feature script they wrote, they got a job on Third Watch. After the first season, Janine stayed in drama, while her partner went back to comedy.

After several seasons of Third Watch, Janine worked for several seasons on ER, ending up at the EP level. Then she auditioned for Criminal Minds — and is careful to point out that they actually read her writing samples, though she was an EP already — and joined the staff as EP at the beginning of season 6.

Janine was nominated for five NAACP Image Awards and a Humanitas Award for her writing. She also serves on the board of the William H. Johnson Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to giving scholarships to African-American Contemporary artists.

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

053 – Sterling Anderson (Beyond Screenwriting, The Unit)

Sterling Anderson is an award-winning screenwriter, TV writer, and author. His newest book, Beyond Screenwriting, goes where no other industry book goes… into the trenches of today’s writer in Hollywood.


Sterling Anderson has written for some of the most popular network television shows, such as The Unit on CBS, as well as NBC’s Medium and Heist. His TV movie The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn, written for CBS and starring Sidney Poitier, received an Emmy nomination and won an Image Award. Sterling’s extensive resume also includes screenplays written for Lions Gate, Disney, HBO, TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures.

A graduate in English from St. Mary’s College, the accomplished writer also spent five years teaching screenwriting courses as an adjunct professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Sterling’s first book, ‘Does He Cheat?,’ is a hair-raising, controversial expose on infidelity. He has written three books on writing, ‘Writing Without Fear’ (2010), Beyond Screenwriting (on Kindle and in paperback), and Writing Without Fear: 15 Steps Toward Becoming a Successful (Artist) Writer (on Kindle only). The author often guest lectures and panels on screenwriting at film schools and festivals across the country.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sterling spent his early childhood in Tuskegee, Alabama, before moving to Davis, California. He writes from Los Angeles today. His talents span far outside the world of writing. Sterling has a fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and was an award-winning winemaker in Napa Valley.

Follow Sterling on Twitter: @byondscrnwrting

Visit Sterling’s website: sterlingandersonwriter.com

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

028 – Tamiko Brooks (8 Simple Rules, Half & Half)

Writer Tamiko Brooks grew up in Detroit, but knew from an early age she wanted to work in the entertainment industry. She was not only the first Nickelodeon live action fellow, but was also accepted to the Disney/ABC writing fellowship.


Tamiko Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. After graduation, she headed west to L.A., and got a job as an assistant on the TV sitcom, Moesha. Under the mentorship of some of the writers, Tamiko began writing spec sitcoms and ultimately received her first writing credit in 1999 with an episode of Moesha.

Soon after, Tamiko was accepted to the first year of the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship, along with former podcast interviewee Courtney Lilly. She was relocated to Orlando, FL to work on the Nick sitcom, Taina.

After that, she became an ABC/Disney writing fellow. As a result, she was placed on the sitcom, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. The head writer was so impressed with her that he hired her on staff, and she was with the show for two seasons until its cancellation.

Tamiko was then hired as a writer on Half & Half. Additionally, Tamiko has written freelance assignments for The Proud Family and the daytime drama One Life to Live.

You’ll learn a lot from Tamiko about navigating the industry, and dealing with the ups and downs and cyclical nature of TV schedules.

Make sure you take part in the TV Writer Chat this Sunday night, as it will feature the launch of the first TV Writer Podcast contest, with some amazing prizes! Get the details about the chat at tvwriterchat.com.

Follow Tamiko on Twitter: @TamikoBrooks

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

027 – Eric Haywood (Soul Food, Relative Stranger)

Writer-director Eric Haywood started out as a successful Atlanta-based music video director, but since moving to Los Angeles has written for cable and network television, has written a TV movie, and has written and directed many short films. You’ll love hearing how he has approached every step of his interesting journey through the industry!


Eric was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He began his career as a music video director while still enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in filmmaking. After relocating to Atlanta, Eric went on to direct and produce videos featuring such artists as Usher, Cee-Lo Green, Outkast, New Edition, Ice-T, Tupac Shakur, and legendary Parliament-Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins. His video for Bay Area rapper E-40’s song “Sprinkle Me” was selected by MTV and XXL Magazine as the #10 Greatest West-Coast Rap Video of All Time.

Eric then turned his focus to writing, and moved to Los Angeles, where he landed jobs as a writer on all five seasons of Showtime’s Soul Food: The Series, and NBC’s police drama Hawaii. Along the way, he has periodically returned to his filmmaking roots, writing and directing three short films (Staring at the Sun, Intersection, and Nick of Time), each of which has screened at a number of film festivals around the country.

Most recently, Eric wrote the Hallmark Channel Original Movie Relative Stranger, starring Eriq LaSalle and directed by Charles Burnett. After premiering in the spring of 2009, the film garnered three NAACP Image Award nominations and a Best Supporting Actress Emmy® nomination for Cicely Tyson.

Follow Eric on Twitter: @Eric_Haywood

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.