When did you know you wanted to be a screenwriter?
I had always been a storyteller as a child, from re-enacting things that happened at school and taking joy in the reaction on everyone’s face, to telling a big joke making sure to carefully set up the punchline. I was a natural born storyteller. I feel as I grew more interested in movies, I grew more interested in telling stories on screen.
Honestly, when I was younger I wanted to be everything which ultimately led me to realizing I wanted to be a screenwriter because I later discovered that being a screenwriter would allow me to be anything I could imagine. If I could think it, I could write it. A screenwriter can be a doctor, a painter, a movie star, a teacher; anything. Because screenwriters can tell stories from any perspective we choose. We create stories, we create characters, we create worlds!
What is the hardest thing about being a self-taught artist for you?
The hardest thing is patience. When we are in a world that’s so fast paced we tend to look at how far everyone else has come and we beat ourselves up for not being where everyone else is or not knowing as much as the next person. So the hardest thing has been patience. I’m learning to stop rushing my creative process and to enjoy these humble beginnings.
What exactly is Damn Write Originals and how did it come to be?
Damn Write Originals is a “screenwriting factory” as I like to call it. It’s a company I started in 2013 to pretty much house all of my scripts and all of my creative projects that relate to filmmaking. Currently, I am the only writer in this “Factory” but I do have hopes of partnering with other writers and expanding this company further.
You tend to hold other positions on the set of your films, how do you balance all of your hats?
I balance my hats by trying my best to be as organized as possible. Although I love writing, producing, casting, set design and directing as individual units, I must admit, I do not enjoy wearing all these hats at once. I’d rather focus in on one (or maybe two) at a time. However, I do understand when starting from the ground up, wearing multiple hats is almost required, so I make it happen! Like I said, humble beginnings.
How would you describe your writing process?
Depends on what I’m writing and how I was inspired to write it. Sometimes, I’m very on the fly. I’ll jot down a few notes in a notebook, type up scenes out of order, save random dialogue in my phone and go from there. At other times, I’m super organized. I’ll have a storyboard, character descriptions, index cards with my storyline, a beat sheet, and then I’ll write.
What do you hope audiences get from your work?
I’m very intentional. I write everything with the purpose of making people feel something. Everyone is different, it’s just like when you go to church or read a self-help book, I just want people to take what they need. As long as they leave a little more enlightened, a little more entertained, a little more empathetic, or even a little more inspired; just leave with something.
Do you have a motto you live and work by?
Personally, I have so many! However, I’ll say “Always make noise,” — this is the motto of Damn Write Originals because we like to tell the stories for the people who may feel their voices have been silenced. Sometimes when I hesitate while writing, I always think this to myself “Always make noise.” It reminds me to be intentional and audacious in my writing and that the stories that I’m telling are valid and important.
What can we expect to see from you in the near future?
It’s a SURPRISE! I’m working on a handful of short films this summer Suga Water, Queer of A Kind and Shea Butter Babies and I’m cooking up a brand new web series Cream and Coffee that will be filmed in LA and will most likely premiere in Spring 2016. I’m so excited for these new projects, you all will LOVE them.
Sometimes TV just isn’t cutting it, and with Empire in the off-season, it’s harder to see brown faces on your screen. But don’t worry, Nakia Stephens has got you covered. Self-taught screenwriter, director, and producer; Her work is youthful, funny, thoughtful and Black! You can catch up with all things Nakia Stephens and Damn Write Originals at:
want more interviews like this? Subscribe below.