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Kriss Turner: Her Film Offers Women of Color Alternatives

By Deardra Shuler

It isn’t unusual these days to see women alone, especially women of color. You see them dining with friends, shopping with a gal pal or catching an afternoon matinee. These women are strong, attractive, and intelligent women from all walks of life. Many of whom have successfully carved out a winning niche for themselves. As they push open the corporate doors, some women have managed to stash away funds, drive nice cars, and even purchase a home of their own. These women are not unhappy. Some even enjoy the freedom that a single lifestyle affords. Yet, for many women, the American Dream of achievement has a slightly bitter aftertaste. Without that special someone to share their success with what is a single black woman to do. Many ask: Where are the black men" These women are not just seeking any black man. They seek black men who are their intellectual and spiritual equivalents. While black women may not expect black men to match their salaries, they do expect them to be emotional and financial contributors. With an increasingly limited dating field what is a loyal black woman’s choice" Statistics estimate that 10 percent of black men are marrying white women. These numbers continue to grow as some black men hop color lines after achieving success. Therefore, is it now time, for loyal black women, to consider other alternatives" Television writer/co-executive producer Kriss Turner explores these options in her upcoming movie, "Something New" starring Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker, Mike Epps and Taraji P. Henson.

Born in Hawaii, transplanted to Seattle, then California, Kriss Turner presently resides in Los Angeles where she writes for television. She formerly wrote for shows such as "Sister to Sister," "Living Single" "Cosby" "The Whoopie Show," "Bernie Mac," and presently "Everybody Hates Chris." Turner’s interest in television started at age12, when director Tony Singletary first handed her a "What’s Happening" and "What’s Happening Now" script. Turner was hooked.

"I knew I wanted to be in show business but initially I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I thought perhaps I would write a book or be a producer or director. I ended up being a PA (production assistant). I got folks coffee, lunches and answered phones for many years. I did whatever it took to be around the business. I even developed major secretarial skills as a writer’s assistant" elucidated Ms. Turner. "But frankly, that is the best way to learn the business; from the bottom up. People often ask me how they can get into television writing. I tell them get in on the ground floor, meet people, ask questions, observe and hopefully when ready, you will know someone to give your work to" explained Kriss. "On my shows, my title is co-executive producer but that is really an elevated TV writer’s title. An executive producer/writer for television is usually the creator. For example, on "Everybody Hates Chris," Chris Rock and Ali LeRoi created that show and are definitely involved with it."

Turner explained the complexities a budding writer faces when presenting ideas/scripts to the television industry. "It is very difficult for people who haven’t done television before to get into television writing and/or sell an idea about a show, mainly because the buyers who are buying shows are looking for experienced people. However, there is always the possibility that if you haven’t developed a show before, they might pair you up with a more experienced person. Usually, the way it works is that you have to have already written a few shows. If you have a story concept, you would then discuss your concept with an agent, who in turn, sets you up with a studio. If the studio likes your story the studio presents your idea to the network. If the network likes it, they order it and then pay a licensing fee to the studio to air it. The studio pays the writer to write the show. The writer writes a few drafts of the pilot. If the pilot goes over, then the brass orders 13 episodes which in TV language is called ordering your pilot to series. Staff writers, crew, and cast for the show are then hired" continued Kriss. "I did not create the characters in "Everybody Hates Chris." I was hired after the pilot was written. I am one of the co-executive producers which basically means, I am a senior writer. The show is about Chris Rock’s childhood and he contributes a lot of ideas to the show. It’s hard to come up with ideas week after week and that is why you have a staff. We all sit around brainstorming until someone comes up with an idea, others contribute their ideas, and before long we have an episode. It’s truly a collaborative effort" remarked the attractive scribe.

Turner talked about her upcoming movie. "As an African American woman doing well professionally, I found I wasn’t doing well personally, meaning not married. I know a lot of women like this. They ask: "Where are the brothers" Why are we still single" Many successful women just want companionship. Women realize not everyone can make crazy doe. However, they do want men to be responsible. I think black men and black women often move at different paces. Many black men grow up without fathers so may not know how to give love. But I do think men want to feel needed. Chris Rock once said to me: Black women should not be mad at black men for dating white women, they should be mad at themselves for not exercising their options. I started to think about this and eventually wrote my film. It’s about a woman who crossed the color line. My film opens up new possibilities to Black women. It says perhaps its time to let go of embedded outdated ideas and discover love can come in many hues."

"Something New" will be released February 3, 2006 and is certain to have people talking for some time to come.

Copyright © Theodore Myles Publishing, Inc.

January 2006

All rights reserved.

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