Joy is the President of Tracy Oliver’s (First Wives Club) production company, Tracy Yvonne Productions, which is committed to championing diverse voices of all genres, across TV, film, and digital media.
Joy is also an award-winning producer, a graduate of the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC, and the judge of our Diverse Voices Lab, a talent-discovery screenwriting program that strives to encourage stories that are told from perspectives that are often underrepresented in Hollywood today. Her credits include:
- The award-winning HBO short film Premature
- Working as an assistant to the director for the feature film Gun Hill Road, which made its debut at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival
- and Marriage is for White People, an upcoming feature film she is currently producing.
She sat down with our head of writer development, Sarah J. Eagen, to talk about storytelling, selling scripts, and authenticity in the entertainment industry. Here are four pieces of professional advice for screenwriters from their talk if you don’t have the time to watch the full chat.
Joy is the President of Tracy Oliver’s (FIRST WIVES CLUB) production company, Tracy Yvonne Productions, which is committed to championing diverse voices of all genres, across TV, film, and digital media.
Posted by WeScreenplay on Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Table of Contents
Research the company you want to work with
“The crux of our company is comedies with heart because that’s what Tracy [Oliver] writes. But we like good stories,” Joy said. “Everyone is a storyteller — we all know when a story sits with us and feels good.” Not every studio will be a great fit for every writer. Joy’s biggest tip for screenwriters is to research what a studio produces to make sure it aligns with what you write.
When producers take on a script, especially a television pilot, they are taking on months if not years of characters, experiences, and worlds. That is a commitment that her company takes into consideration when reading scripts. But it’s not the only thing they look for.
“We also like to develop new writers. We just announced the winner of a contest we held with BET to find a new half-hour comedy writer. Everyone’s experience is different and sometimes you just need a door opened. We really like to find new voices and what they have to say,” she explained.
Run towards your fear
“Everyone knows, if they’re really honest with themselves, what they love and what they actually want to do. Lean into that,” Joy urged. Failure is something that she encourages creatives to run towards, rather than letting the fear of it hold you back.
Writers and filmmakers will make mistakes. The most important thing is to learn from those mistakes and persist. It’s the only way to grow.
On selling scripts during the COVID-19 pandemic
“Hopeful stories might be the first things coming back after the pandemic,” Joy observed. Collectively, people feel ill-at-ease during these times, and as a result, there are trends towards more light-hearted content.
At the same time, there are also more heartbreaking pandemic stories that are making their way into the storytelling zeitgeist. Ultimately, Joy encourages writers to tell the authentic story they have within — don’t worry about what’s trendy.
The importance of authenticity
Joy’s final piece of advice for screenwriters? “Write stories that are very authentic to yourself, whatever those stories are. If you want to wrap them up in genre, do that.” Great storytelling is personal and universal. If your story means something special to you, it will emotionally resonate with an audience.
“Don’t be precious with yourself. Share your work, get feedback, and keep making it better.”
Industry advice for screenwriters
Watch the full interview for more ways you can take your next step as a screenwriter. And if you are interested in having your work read by Joy, submit your work to our Diverse Voices Lab!
Shannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Military.com, and she has written and produced hundreds of digital videos with millions of views. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!
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