Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review


I had a few free months before bringing in my sixth and last play at Juilliard. I used this time do dive back into poetry, essays, and journalism. I wrote for The New Republic and Talking Points Memo. This led to numerous podcasts opportunities for different media sites. I revised two plays I brought into the school the previous fall: "Running on Fire" and A Family Manual for Kwanzaa." For the latter, I did a lot of revisions and found that both plays were able to find some development or reading opportunities around this time of year, but they wouldn't come to fruition until the summer. I went out to LA and had a ton of good meetings. But then again it's LA: everyone has good meetings. I almost thinks its the fruit basket consolation prize for writers and actors going out there: smiling faces and as much bottled water as one could stomach. And yet I'm not jaded enough to pretend like it's insignificant. I still get slightly charged  to be sitting in the lobbies of Fox, HBO, ABC, NBC, and all the acronyms. I still get excited getting an executives card, in knowing that my writing sticks out enough to warrant 'a meeting.'

This year was one of new opportunities and new projects. The biggest transition was graduation (kind of, sort of, sure let's call it that). I finished the two-year fellowship at Juilliard. Due to the fact that they're no grades and it's a paid artist fellowship, saying I graduated is about half-true. Juilliard gives finishing playwrights at 'artist diploma.' These certificates are awarded to the fellowship artists at the school. We get a cap and gown, our names are announced, we march across the stage. It would appear to be a graduation when really it's something much better: it's the acknowledged culmination of an artist fellowship in which we got paid to go to the best school in the world.

I GOT TO SEE 'HAMILTON!!" Haha! One day before it closed at the Public Theatre I was able to sneak before the explosion of ticket sales.

Around the same time of graduation "Obama-ology" was being performed at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. The play finished 2014 at Finborough Theatre to some great reviews and was published by Oberon Books for 2015. I am so grateful to have organizations like Juilliard, RADA, Oberon, and Finborough supporting my work.

I brought in my last play to Juilliard: "Mercury Parallel" (tentative title). It was great to dive back into the jock world and remember the Machiavellian machinations of the locker room. I got a bunch of TV scripts to read for pilot season, most of which were dreck, some were good, and a few were amazing. Overall, though, the quality of TV scripts has gone into another stratosphere. Selfishly, I'm going to attribute this boom to the influx of playwrights. Almost all of the playwrights I respected and worked alongside of 10 years ago are now in TV or trying to get there. Two of my three playwriting roommates are now in LA and doing quite well. My third playwriting roommate is moving to LA in 2016 to get into TV. He's had enough of the struggle. He wants to be able to have a wife, raise a family, earn a decent wage, and see your work in front of an audience within a reasonable amount of time.

Spring was a season of 'even greater' meetings for TV but no jobs. There were a few close calls and I'm talking about being on a final list with 2-3 names. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. And quite honestly I didn't mind. I was finishing up "Zoohouse" at National Black Theatre for a spring reading and had a May workshop of "The Gospel According to F#ggots" at BAX as a part of my artist-in-residence there. For both fellowships I agreed to come back in the fall of 2015 and through the final workshop productions in February and April 2016.

I got a ticket to London thanks to Royal Court and their US Writers Programme (it's Britain so I'm going to spell it that way). It was only a week, but quite a phenomenal time. It was nice that out of the 6 writers selected, three of us were from Juilliard. Royal Court was taken aback. They didn't check our schools and why would they? It's London theatre and they don't care about American school hierarchy. They told us they just selected the best plays. It was a nice feeling to know that the past 2 years were spent at a school that -on a blind reading in another country- comprised half the selected writers chosen to represent America.

Back in the States, I signed on to a second year at BAX and met the new artists in the residency. In July I went to the Kennedy Center as a part of NNPN MFA workshop. For the seemingly umpteenth time of 2015 I found myself in a room with some of the world's best writers and artists. It was very encouraging and inspiring. And I got to experience the magic of "A Family Manual for Kwanzaa" being read in the Kennedy Center. I came back to NYC for one day in August and saw "King Liz." I really enjoyed the play. I didn't find out until a month later that it was picked up by Showtime to be turned into -what else- a TV show.

"Defacing Michael Jackson" was in Proscenium Magazine and I still dream of finding a theatre for this play. My short play "Freefalling" finally came out in a DPS anthology of best short plays. And I signed a contract with Original Works Publishing to release "To Whom It May Concern" as a book.

By the end of summer I was going to yoga and dance class 6 times a week. I signed on to write a screenplay, had two playwriting fellowships to look forward to in the fall, and was a finalist for two other opportunities.  I was also scheduled to to go Switzerland to speak at a school for a week. My TV agents left Paradigm to move on to new positions at Verve and WME. I decided it was time to make a change and consider getting a manager.


On September 1st I came back to NYC for the Playwrights Realm Fellowship interview. I was a finalist but ended up not being selected. The next day I interviewed for a TV show and was offered my first TV staff writing job less than an hour later as I was exiting the Port Authority subway stop. I was able to get two more readings of "Zoohouse" at NBT and another excerpt reading of "Gospel" at BAX.

The Dramatists Guild put up a great excerpt night for outgoing fellows. I presented a 10-minute section of "Storytown, USA" that made people laugh and -hopefully- triggered some interests in the script.

I signed with Grandview Management and I'm excited to see how this is going to work in 2016.
"To Whom It May Concern" came out as a book. I was told that the print version of "Obama-ology" was selling well. Finborough Theatre expressed an interest in producing "Don't Smoke In Bed" for the spring of 2016. I rescheduled my trip to Switzerland for the spring and we'll see if the timing lines up because this TV job should be ending around April and it'll also be my final workshop at BAX

I finished writing the screenplay I signed on to during the summer and I think it might be special. I'm halfway through my first TV job. I'm back in Miami doing yoga, revising scripts, and trying to continue this upward spiral. I was a semifinalist for P73 but wasn't invited to the writers group so -like Playwrights Realm and NNPN National Showcase- it was another close call.  

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