Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why I Write And Produce My Own Work

Writing is something I had always wanted to do, but would often be intimidated by the beautifully well written and poetic books I'd read. I'd get so discouraged because I knew I could never write like that. However, I still attempted it in college and ended up with a writing teacher who shattered my confidence with C's. It was hurting my GPA so I gave up writing.

Writing Plays
Fast forward a few years and I found myself dabbling in writing again, thanks to my acting teacher at AADA and friend Pamela Scott who encouraged me to write (Pam is a wonderful playwright, member of the Actors Studio Playwriting Director’s Process Unit). This time, I was giving play-writing a go and fell truly in love with writing while taking classes with members of the LAByrinth Theatre Company, in particular, Stephen Adly Guirgis. What I got from Stephen is that you don't need to write fancy just be real. Real as in sharing who you are as a human being, baggage included - what keeps you up at night, what makes you happy, what conflicts are you struggling to resolve - a true sharing of you and your inner world. Infusing your dialogue with diverse characters to create the story that you want to tell, no matter how outrageous, and no one gets to grade you. So, I wrote plays with a lot more depth and colors...and then moved onto screenplays.

Writing Screenplays
I began writing screenplays out of necessity. You see, as actors we rely on reels to showcase our work so that we may, in turn, get more work to further our career. But how can we put together a reel if we don't get copies back from Directors? I did my fair share of student and indie short films in the hopes that I'll end up with good material for my reel. Some directors gave me copies and others simply failed to keep their end of the bargain. Then there was the issue of quality - some of the stuff I got back just wasn't usable. Frustrated, I decided to turn some of my short plays into screenplays so I can shoot something for myself. In the process, I discovered that screenplays came a lot faster and easier to me than plays because my mind functions like a film projector that plays out vivid images that tell a story.

I began researching American films and TV (I'm more of a foreign film and TV junkie) and went back on the film/TV auditioning track to feed my writing and that's when reality sunk in for me. What I had gathered from my research and auditioning is that despite being an intelligent polyglot Juris Doctor who has traveled and worked abroad, I may never get to portray a character like myself on screen because I'm an ethnically diverse woman, Latina to be exact. It's bad enough that some of the roles written for women can be very limiting and that roles for ethnically diverse actors are limited, but with the combination of the two I knew my chances were slim to none.

Realizing that the American entertainment industry has a long way to go before it gives up on the archaic and often times negative stereotypes it perpetuates, I decided to produce my own script: "Justice Woman".

Writing Justice Woman
When I first began writing Justice Woman a while back it was meant to showcase myself as an actor. As time progressed and I evolved as a writer, I started to find a voice that wasn't just about me, but about the many things that are unfair and disturbing in our society like racism, gender and age discrimination, homophobia, immigration, double standards, sexual hypocrisy, class power, political corruption and the list goes on. Those became the issues I wanted to tackle in Justice Woman. However, as my dear Oscar Wilde recommended: "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you", I decided to put a humorist twist to my writing and the results have been remarkable. I am truly happy with the incredible work the cast and crew have done up to date and I'm eager to share it with everyone soon.

About Justice Woman
Justice Woman is a web series that follows the story of Sofia Escala, an Assistant District Attorney, determined to fight injustices within the legal system and the fiasco she and her office mate Robert Galion get into as a result thereof.
It's campy with an engaging story line that involves Sofia and Robert bringing to light questionable practices in the prosecution of the city's cases, most notably the incarceration of an innocent migrant worker, Jesus Lopez.
Get ready for "Law and Order" to meet "Will and Grace" for some "Sex In The City" superhero style minus the super powers.

Starring: Vanessa Verduga (Me), Lee Kaplan, Luke Guldan, Mary Porter, Lino Del Core, Omar Gonzalez, Alison Ryan and many more.... 

My Piece of Advice/Suggestion
To anyone reading this is: 

Take control. If you see something you don't like then do something to change it. Put yourself in the driver's seat and tilt the balance even. You have a voice!