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Advice for Writers from a Literary Manager

By February 15, 2021February 18th, 2021No Comments

Ashley Calloway is a Los Angeles native who works at Issa Rae’s ColorCreative Management, a company dedicated to flipping the script for underrepresented writers. Since 2014, ColorCreative has been working to create more visibility and opportunities for women and minority writers.

She sat down with WeScreenplay to discuss the relationship between writers and managers, how to submit yourself as a writer, and the most important thing for a strong writing career.

If you’d like to watch the entire chat you can do so below.

Agent vs. Manager

“A manager is there to help develop a career. A manager is really going to help hone your craft. I like to give thorough notes on a script before sending it to my client’s agent,” she said. 

Calloway emphasized the importance of a close relationship in order to get a script in tip-top shape.

“I’m personally interested in people I can build a business around,” she explained. Calloway wants to see passion, drive, and business-minded individuals. Know the industry. If you’re a TV writer, familiarize yourself with shows and the people who create them. 

When approaching reps, be prepared to show them why you’re marketable as a writer and as an individual.

Research is Critical

“If you’re not a Black woman but you have a Black woman character, it’s okay to ask questions,” she urged. Acknowledging what you don’t know is perfectly acceptable — in fact, it’s preferable to writing a tone-deaf character or story. That’s where the research begins.

You’ve also got to build your writing portfolio. 

“It’s very important to have multiple samples. When I read people, I would like to have more than one thing to read,” she recommended. Before you even begin to submit to agents or managers, you’ve got to put in the work as a writer.

Extrovert Your Work

Calloway recommended seeking out opportunities to learn and meet people. Build your craft by writing multiple scripts, shoot a short film, or consider applying to fellowships and labs like the WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Lab and the Sundance Episodic Lab. One of ColorCreative’s current clients was a previous participant in the WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Lab who proved that hard work pays off and creates opportunities.

“There are a lot of great programs that are in film festivals. Don’t forget about local festivals. Go work for them, volunteer, attend — you never know who you’ll meet,” she said, describing her own personal experiences with festivals.

“Join writing groups on social media and connect with your peers,” she recommended, especially during the pandemic where in-person events are restricted.

Be Kind. Stay Humble. Stay Hungry.

Your voice is important. There’s always a way to slip it in. It’s also how you write and how you structure your scripts. It sets you apart and makes you special. It’s your job as a writer to continue to develop your voice by writing — a lot. 

Beyond that, be the kind of person someone would want to work with. “Don’t take notes personally,” she urged. Notes are an opportunity to improve your work and they’re a critical part of the writing industry. 

“People will always remember when you’re nice to them,” she said, explaining how she has built relationships with people who have proven their character over time.

Calloway suggested that anyone interested in ColorCreative follows founder Issa Rae on YouTube and Patreon. You can also submit to the Diverse Voices Lab where ColorCreative President Talitha Watkins is a judge.

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screenwriting competitionShannon 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 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!