This week, Gray Jones interviews Khanisha Foster, host of the Stephen’s College M.F.A program’s “How I Wrote That” podcast, which features Hollywood’s most successful working female writers discussing their journey and current projects.
Khanisha Foster is a mixed race actress, writer, teaching artist, the Associate Artistic Director of 2nd Story and a TCG’s Young Leader of Color. She is currently enrolled in the M.F.A program and touring with her Solo Show “Actor of Color.”
Hilary Winston is the creator and showrunner of Bad Teacher, which premieres April 24 at 9:30 pm on CBS! Gray Jones caught up with her a few days before the premiere.
In the interview, Hilary has great tips on career development and networking, as well as writing, pitching, and selling pilots. She also has a fascinating personal story… how she started as an intern at the White House in the Clinton administration and ended up writing comedy in Hollywood… how even after writing scripts on a writing staff, becoming an assistant for several years was the best thing for her career.
Hilary’s official bio:
Hilary Winston is an author and writer/producer of television and film. Prior to developing and executive producing Bad Teacher, Winston wrote for network and cable television series, including the Emmy Award-winning comedy My Name is Earl, Happy Endings, and Community.
Winston expanded into novel writing and is the author of a dating memoir, My Boyfriend Wrote a Book about Me, which she adapted as a movie for Paramount Studios. Also, she pens a monthly column for Playboy Magazine.
Winston began her writing career by getting people coffee at various places like National Public Radio and Hollywood Squares. She can now proudly say someone else gets her coffee. Unfortunately, she doesn’t like coffee.
Winston grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. Currently, she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her cats, Lolly and Gordon.
Make sure to watch Bad Teacher Thursdays at 9:30 pm on CBS!
In the UK, TV pilots get “optioned” the same way feature scripts do in the US! Learn about this and many other fascinating differences between writing in the UK, the US, and Canada, in Gray’s fun interview with UK writing team James Whitehouse and Hannah George.
Since then, they have worked for the BBC, writing six episodes of the award-winning new CBBC children’s drama series ‘Wolfblood,’ which has since been acquired by Disney for international release. They have also written on Nickleodeon’s hit series ‘The House of Anubis.’
They have a had several of their own scripts optioned in genres as diverse as children’s sci-fi, and adult sitcom, and drama. They are currently in development with several companies for these, and writing on CBBC comedy show ‘The Slammer.’
In this fun interview, they tell what you should look for in a writing partner, and describe many fascinating differences about writing in the UK versus writing in Hollywood or Canada, including optioning TV specs, writing without a full time writers room, and much more!
They are represented by Harriet Pennington-Legh at Troika.
Tawnya Bhattacharya has worked as a TV writer, feature writer, teacher, and consultant, and has great tips to share on both writing and developing your career!
Tawnya Bhattacharya currently writes for the hit TV series, THE CLIENT LIST on Lifetime, along with her writing partner, Ali Laventhol. The team previously worked on USA’s FAIRLY LEGAL and are repped by ICM Partners and Rain Management Group. Before that, their NURSE JACKIE spec got them into the NBC Writers on the Verge fellowship program. The duo are currently in development with Battleplan on their original pilot.
Tawnya’s solo work includes several optioned features and writing assignments. She was one of a handful selected for the Fox Writers Initiative in 2009, where she optioned her original pilot to Fox.
Bhattacharya taught screenwriting at Writers Boot Camp in 2005 to 2009 where she helped hundreds of writers at various levels create and develop their screenplay projects through courses and script consultations. In 2010, she launched Script Anatomy: a company designed to help screen and television writers reach their personal writing goals and elevate their storytelling through private script consultation, group feature and television writing classes and workshops.
The odds of a pilot script being sold and produced are incredibly small. What if you absolutely must see your story come to life? This week we meet Corinna Mendis, who despite having no film schooling or previous experience, independently produced and shot her own spec pilot!
Corinna Mendis, a native New Yorker, grew up wanting to become an actress. When her parents threatened to cut her off, she put creative pursuits on a shelf, and dug herself in to university studies. Two bachelor’s degrees and two Master’s degrees later, she found she couldn’t stop writing, especially about the trials and tribulations of the homeless population at a homeless center she volunteered at in Long Island, New York.
She pursued books, classes, seminars, and any resource she could find, to learn about the television writing process, including classes with Larry Brody, author of Television Writing from the Inside Out.
Rather than try to sell her pilot in script form, Corinna decided to produce it herself! With Larry’s encouragement and support, she spent $25,000 of her own money to produce “Not In My Neighborhood,” a single camera half hour TV pilot shot in the same homeless shelter where she volunteered.
Corinna learned a tremendous amount in the process… so much so, that she encourages anyone who is currently thinking about film school to consider instead following in her footsteps, and learning through doing.
The entire pilot “Not In My Neighborhood” is available online: CLICK HERE
What are your excuses for not writing? This week we meet Vivi Anna / Tawny Stokes, a successful novelist and screenwriter, who writes and publishes mountains of material while being a single mom and homeschooling her teenage daughter!
Vivi Anna is an award-winning Canadian multi-published author in paranormal romance, urban fantasy, scifi, and young adult under the name Tawny Stokes. Since 2003, she’s written and published close to 23 books for New York publishers such as Harlequin, Kensington and Avon. She’s also independently published several projects on her own.
Vivi is also a screenwriter and TV writer and is one of the co-founders of the weekly TV Writer Chat. One of her pilots, adapted from one of her books, was a finalist in both the Austin and Slamdance Film Festivals in 2011.
Vivi is excellent at time management, having accomplished all of these things while being a single parent and home schooling her children. In this interview, she discusses some of her secrets, as well as trying to break in to Hollywood from thousands of miles away, and her impressions of the TV Writer Chat pilot writing program so far.