Skip to main content

Diverse Voices Feature Winner Talks About the Power of Stories

By August 16, 2016No Comments

Leon Chills' script The Trill Nikkia is a powerful action script where the only thing that overshadows the insanity of the set pieces is the heart. The story follows a woman who is hunted by the Mexican cartel after killing several of their men to escape a bad situation and to make a better life for her daughter. Our judges were blown away by the originality. The Trill Nikkia fuses energy and passion to create a uniquely raw and cutting story.

What's the most important or unique part of your writing process?

The most important part of my writing process is discipline and consistency. Once I decided that I wanted to write every morning, I needed those two things to actually follow through on it. I read a quote recently that pretty much sums up what I've found works best for me: "First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won't. Habit is persistence in practice." – Octavia E. Butler. What she said. 

How do you pick the stories that you ultimately write?

I don't pick the stories, they pick me! Had to say it. All of the stories I write are very personal, whether they appear to be on the surface or not. So whatever I write at the time is either based on a literal experience or something I feel I need to express about the world around me. 

Why did you choose to enter Diverse Voices? Where were you when you found out that you had won?

Diverse Voices is the only feature screenplay writing contest I've seen that tackles diversity head on. With so much talk about the lack of diversity in Hollywood recently, you would think there would be a lot more contests to help fix the problem. That's what I see this contest as, a direct solution to a problem that exists in the industry. I want to be a part of the solution. I was at work being an assistant when I found out lol. 

Why is diversity in entertainment important?

It feels crazy to have to explain or defend why diversity is important. No one should be against it. More than one type of voice deserves to be heard. Only watching white men do xyz has to get boring at some point right? 

Who inspires your writing? Who inspires you?

I think my feature writing is most inspired by Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino. Which is funny because they have beef. I'm inspired by my wife, mom, my family, my friends, LeBron James and Kanye West. 

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

To have faith in God. 

Also, I was having the typical 'what do you do' conversation with someone after having just moved to LA. I told him I was trying to be a writer. He replied, "are you trying or are you doing it?" That alone changed my entire mindset. 

What's your favorite movie or TV show? What about the writing of that show makes it stand out? What can writers learn from it?

My favorite movie is The Matrix. I was young when it came out, around 12, and I remember being blown away by the action and special effects. It was the most amazing movie I had ever seen. I remember seeing it three times in one weekend. As I got older, my love for it only grew as I started to understand it on a different level. When I quit my job at JP Morgan in NYC to follow my dreams I felt like Neo taking the red pill. It's the perfect blend of spectacle mixed with a deeper meaning. I can't pick one favorite TV show. 

What other successes have you had as a writer – big or small?

I was accepted into the 2013 Creative Minds Filmmaker Institute in Cannes, France where I wrote and directed a short film. I had a screenplay I co-wrote get optioned by a production company. I finished as a top 10 finalist in another screenwriting competition. I've been awarded two diversity scholarships at UCB. 

What did your writing look like 5 years ago and what will your writing look like 5 years from now?

Five years ago I wrote my first script and it was very very very very bad. Five years from now I'll be watching something I've written on the big screen.