Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Interview with TV Writer Jacqueline McKinley

Check out my interview with a real live, breathing TV writer, Jacqueline McKinley. Together with her writing partner, Antonia March, Jacqueline has written for four sitcoms — Smart Guy, Just Jordan, Will and Jada Smith’s series All of Us, and the Emmy award-winning Bernie Mac Show. The short films Move and Oxtails, which they wrote, produced, and directed, have appeared on Showtime and BET. To top it all, she’s a fellow UF alum! Go Gators!

One highlight from the interview:

"Can you share any Hollywood horror stories or funny anecdotes about breaking in or moving up staff ranks?

I have tons of horror stories. Getting fired off of my first staffed position on Smart Guy was my most memorable. I told my agent, I think they hate us, and she said that she hasn’t heard that at all and that I’m being paranoid. (I don’t know a writer who isn’t paranoid.) Well, I did the math; if we were able to go out for Thanksgiving break, then our option would have gotten picked up. It was the last day before the break, and the showrunners wished the staff a nice vacation. I was so thrilled; I thought we made it through. Antonia and I started to walk out the room when the showrunners said, “Jackie and Toni can we have a word with you,” and my heart fell.

A lot of my horror stories come from when I was a writer’s assistant. On Cosby, I’d leave work seeing the hotdog carts making their way into the city for the morning set up, and then after two hours sleep people would call me wondering where I was. On Cosby, that was my first time seeing how a big network show works. There was a lot of stress and firings. I remember this one showrunner was fired, and he was just kind of wandering through the assistant’s area. I asked him if he would like to order lunch, and he says to me, you know I just got fired. I said I knew, but he still has to eat. As an assistant, I knew his days were numbered before he did.

On another show, a fistfight broke out on stage between a writer and a director. There was always drama on that set."

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