Introducing Damn Write Originals
There has been a void in authentic media content when it pertains to women and people of color. With the rise of reality television focusing on black women who fight with one another and one dimensional portrayals of women, we are desperate for a new narrative. Enter in Damn Write Originals, a creative house launched in 2013. Nakia Stephens, screenwriter and creator of Damn Write Originals, launched this idea in 2013.
Photo Credit: damnwriteoriginals.com
Filmmaking is her passion and her mission is to bring about non-stereotypical representation, quality content, and real stories about women and minorities. Damn Write Originals intends to advance the narrative of women and people of color in film and television. Stephens’ upcoming web series CreamxCoffee is about the love story of an accidental interracial couple. In hopes to get this series out to the masses, she started a fundraising initiative on an Indiegogo page the project. Within 23 days, she has raised $5,000.00 but hopes to hit her goal of $12,000.00.
Nakia Stephens is making major moves with Damn Write Originals Film House, having produced three films: Muse, Jusqu’a La Mort, and Suga Water. She also produced a web series, Life Under Construction, in addition to CreamxCoffee. Her films strive to create and promote non stereotypical narratives for women and people of color. Black Girl Fly has gotten the chance to chat with Nakia about her passion for film and her endeavors in the industry.
Photo Credit: liveinstagram.com
BGF: Why do you write? And what would you say kicked off your passion?
Nakia: I write because it's my favorite form of storytelling. I've always enjoyed writing; short stories, poetry, and of course, screenplays. What kicked off my passion of screenwriting was the great admiration I had for film and television mixed with the sexiness of words and dialogue. In my opinion, film and television is an unmatched vehicle for storytelling; visual stories have the power to connect you with people, places, or ideas that you otherwise wouldn't have known, it makes you feel and think. After mixing my passion for writing and my love for film/tv I said, "you know what, I want to do that! I want to write movies and TV shows. I want to create characters and stories that people can relate to, fall in love with, even create characters that people love to hate". I also knew that I wanted these characters to be people of color. I wanted our stories told through our voices!
BGF: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Nakia: I draw inspiration from everywhere! I people watch. I observe everything. I study cultural habits, I read fiction novels, I talk to strangers, I ask questions, I practice empathy, I travel the world. Everything and everyone has a story and I'm interested in knowing it all.
BGF: You're self taught and are already making huge moves in your field, how has not going to grad school shaped your work?
Nakia: I had a period where I felt like I should go to grad school because I felt that "I didn't know enough", but I quickly snapped out of that. I realized that instead of accumulating $50,000 worth of student loans, I can learn equally as much from attending workshops, reading books, auditing classes, and also what I like to call "Youtube University". Filmmaking is such a "learn by doing" field that regardless of how much education you get you can still end up making a pretty shitty movie. It's really more about the filmmaker, the self-discipline, and tenacity they have to succeed. It's not enough to be a dreamer, you must be a DOER.
BGF: What do you want readers to know about you and your company? Why shorts and web-series?
Nakia: Listen, I'm just a fly black girl who decided to stop asking permission and decided to make it happen. Once I made that decision, Damn Write Originals was born. I knew that I wanted the stories of women and minorities to be told and I took a personal responsibility in doing just that. Let's be honest: historically, the majority of Black media content being produced each year happens without the help of "hollywood bucks". We are in a time where millennials, like myself, are beginning to pave our own paths. I write short films and web-series because I can do so without, once again, asking permission, jeopardizing my material or pitching to someone who doesn't understand the importance of the story. This is my lane right now and I am taking full advantage of it until I work my way up to a major network who understands that images and representation matter. Art waits for no one, I feel that it is my duty to carry out the voices of people who look like me and I cannot do so by waiting on the permission of big time execs or following the traditional hierarchy of Hollywood.
BGF: What makes you Black Girl Fly or what makes Black girls fly?
Nakia: I am Black Girl Fly because I'm creating art with a purpose greater than self. I'm audaciously elevating women and minorities in film and I rock my Nefertiti necklace and afro while doing so! Black Girls are Fly because we are beautiful in every shade, we are resilient and strong, delicate and passionate. Black Girls are Gold. We are FLY because we are MAGIC.
If you would like to help Nakia’s vision come into fruition visit her Indiegogo page. The campaign for CreamxCoffee ends on March 17th. To learn more about her and Damn Write Originals visit http://www.damnwriteoriginals.com/ or check her out on Instagram.
In the mean time check out the Mini Pilot for CreamxCoffee, Episode 1: “One Night Swirl” below!
Photo Credit: indiegogo.com
Rachel DuBose is Chicago-based playwright returning to the area by way of Atlanta, GA. After finishing her undergraduate career at Spelman College, Rachel went on to work with NinaHoliday Productions and BET. Some of her work, Eve Within and Alkie's Anonymous has received stage readings at Spelman with the latter being showcased at The Alliance Theatre during Spelman Salon. Most recently, Lonely Hearts participated in The Fade 2 Black Festival in Houston, TX. Rachel holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for the Screen and Stage from Northwestern University. Rachel is also a resident playwright at Mercy Street Theatre Company and a regular contributor for Black Girl Fly Magazine.