Underground: Xclusive Interview with Writer-Director of the Lesbian 3030’s web series- Danielle Watkins
Danielle Watkins is an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter. She started doing stories and poems at the young age of 9. She got her first poem published at the age of 15 in the Poetry Gems Collection that was presented by The Famous Poets Society. She has a production company called Dream N 1 Productions, LLC and has produced several projects including her latest 3030’s web series. Find out more about Danielle Watkin’s accomplishments below.
1. You started writing at age 9, What inspired you to become a writer so young? And was it a short story or a poem?
I honestly don’t think at the time I would have considered it “becoming a writer” as much as I would have considered myself an overachiever. It was a class assignment I had in 4th grade that caused me to want to be the best and resulted in a horror short about a werewolf.
2. You stated you grew up alone in one of your bios. Are you the only child? If so, do you think that being the only child helped you achieve your creativity more?
No, I actually have a brother who is 10 years older than me. So I did grow up alone because he wasn’t around, and by the time I was only enough to truly function he was out in the world. I think it was a combination of being alone and winters in Buffalo that contributed to my creativity.
Long cold winters caused us to not socialize in the winter, and wasn’t but so many times you could play video games before you needed something else to do. I used to listen to music and pretend I was in a musical and play the songs in the way where they told the story (of course I was always the female lead), and the same with writing, I made up stories where I was the main character.
3. Can you talk about your self-published books like “No Other Man” and how that came about?
I started writing “No Other Man” in 2005 while I was dating one of my frat brothers (I know, I know…eww a man lol). There is a CD in the world that has nothing but chants for Zetas, and one of the songs has a lyric about Sigmas that says “No other man will do.” So, when I began dating a Sigma I loved that part, so I named the story (which I did not plan to be what it ended up being) based on that.
Then we broke up, and I stopped writing for about 3 years. I finished it as something to do, not a project to be released. I had a friend who was making films at the time, and when I finished it I asked him to produce it, and he told me “No, not until you publish it.” I’d never thought of that. I went through a few publishers, and ultimately landed my semi self-publishing situation where I was to put out “No Other Man” and two sequels in 12 months; enter the birth of “No Other Man a Three-Part Tragedy”.
4. a) When can we expect to see the full season of 3030?
Or more short films like kisses in the wind? The first season of 3030 is CRAZY! We have some of the craziest best friend situations ever. It is fun and relatable. Expect to want more, that’s what should be expected.
My short film game is ill (lol) Kisses in the Wind is special to me because of its religious theme, but I have some upcoming shorts that are like…yeah…I have a horror shortcoming out, and a few others including one that could be considered semi-autobiographical.
b) Is your web-series 3030 based on real-life events?
Yes, 3030 is completely based on things that my best friend Serrita (Zola in the show) and I experienced. Of course when I wrote it things were exaggerated and heightened, and even some situations just sounded like something we would have done. Season 1 has only a few situations that we truly lived in, season 2 on the other hand. I think like out of 12 episodes we really lived 8.
5. How did you come up with the idea for 3030?
Honestly, in my line of work, we’ve seen so many lesbian dramas, and frankly, I was tired of the drama or “dyke drama” being portrayed. Serrita and I were laughing and talking about things we’d be through one night and she suggested I make a show about us.
At the time I was working on a documentary and felt I didn’t have time, but as I thought about it more I was like “Man, something like Living Single or Martin we don’t have that anymore. Maybe we could do it.” To us, we live, laugh, and love, and we are black lesbians. We wanted to show that side. There is drama in 3030, but its comical, it isn’t heavy, we don’t need it to be heavy.
6. Nor from Kin4life, plays a love interest to your character, how did that come about?
I love Nor!!! I love Kin4Life period. She and IQ are two of the dopest individuals in my life. Nor and I are very close, and when I was in the midst of casting for the role I needed someone I would not only be comfortable with but attracted to. When I brought it to her she was super down for it, so I was like cool! Enter Rocky and Tyler’s endless love affair.
7. Any other special or guest features?
Not this season, not physically anyway. Our soundtrack is full of some heavy hitters in the LGBT underground community, and we were so grateful in their faith in the project to bring their music to us. Next season I have a few things up my sleeve!
8. Do you feel there is a lack of representation of Lesbians 30 and over in media?
I think there is a lack of black lesbian representation period in media. I am very passionate about allowing us to be seen as humans, as opposed to thugged out criminals. There has been a small emergence of the black lesbian in mainstream media in recent years, but ultimately we end up being hyper-sexualized or oversaturated with stereotypes of what a masculine black lesbian would be.
9. Are you working and producing any other web-series like Sinful Paradise?
I am actually looking to reboot Sinful Paradise in 2018. Sinful is something that is different, sexy, and addictive and it deserves to have its moment. In addition to Sinful, I have about 3 more series projects set aside from my film projects slated for 2018, including a project I just finished entitled Priceless.
10. What do you look for when casting?
As a writer I have an idea of a character in my head from the moment the character has a name, so when it is time for me to be the one to cast that is what I look for “the look.” The acting ability, of course, is important, so it’s like if someone has the look, but cannot act, I most likely will not cast them unless I believe they are directable. In that case, if you match my vision, and I think we can mold you, you got the part!
11. How do you prepare to write or for a role?
I’m not an actress, let’s make this clear (lol) Yes, I do star in 3030, but my career is writing. Preparing for Tyler was easy because she is an extension of me. I’ve been offered roles, and I am so hesitant to take them because I do not want me as a writer to be lost in the actress.
As far as preparing to write, my writing process is serious, because I am so serious about it. I have to develop the story and the characters, and then I outline the entire film or show, and then I go back and I write the entire script. Then I go back and I read it, and I make sure it flows, and it makes sense. And then I do it all again until I am satisfied.
12. What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
This is a hard question because reality is everything I’ve done thus far is great to me because they are pieces of what my career looks like today. What stands out is that I am the first and only African-American woman to write, produce, and star in a REVRY Original Series. 3030 is the only African-American lesbian sitcom not only on REVRY but from what we know period. That is probably my greatest feat thus far.
13. Do you plan on writing an LGBT novel in the future?
My novel “The Alyse Diaries Volume 1: Curious” is LGBT themed, it was released in August 2014. It has 3 more volumes that, as long as life is on track, I will release at the end of 2018.
14. Do you plan on making any of your books into a film or web-series?
I think about it often, but the issue is when you take a novel and fit it fo screen there are times when it loses part of its story, and I truly am a story based writer and filmmaker.
The story means everything to me, and if the story is compromised I would rather not release it. The integrity of the story is why the story even exists, so I would rather leave the novel as a novel and allow the reader to enjoy the soul of the story than to take it and chop it up for the sake of being seen. I can create thousands of shows if I just want a show.
15. What is one thing you want to be remembered for?
My passion. If I died tomorrow, all I want the world to say was, she did everything she could to ensure the state of the black lesbian in media was normalized, and that my work was successful (even if momentarily) in allowing those who might not have the chance to see our lives, and realize we are no different than anybody else.
16. Any final words you would like to say to your fans?
The best is yet to come.