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The Fast Five: Netflix Ups Its Emmy®’s Game, While Issa Rae and Jordan Peele Help One Writer Break Out

August 3, 2020
4 min read time

A writer in Spokane sold her short-story for seven figures, professional writers share their expertise via Comic-Con@Home, and Netflix shatters the record for most Emmy nominations in a single year. There’s a lot of lessons that aspiring writers can learn from in this week’s news, so let’s dive right in.

You may not have been able to attend a Hall H panel with thousands of screaming fans to see if Marvel would bring out the celebrities, or visit the market floor with vendors hawking their wares and studios giving out free swag…or missed having to go stand by the water to escape the smell of ten thousand people all crammed into an exhibition space. But, you can still take advantage of one of the best aspects of Comic-Con with the free Comic-Con@Home panels. If you’re an aspiring writer, then you should know that Comic-Con doesn't just focus on comic books and big studios; smaller panels about creative endeavors have always had a presence at the convention. This year's free panels aimed at writers include, Writing for TV: From First Draft to Getting Staffed, How to Create Your Own Novel: From First Idea to Publishing and What You Need to Sell Your Work Into TV and Film, Making A Living Being Creative, and The Writer's Journey: Developing a Producer's Mentality. These videos are all still available on Comic-Con’s YouTube channel and can help inspire, motivate and teach you things that could be helpful for your career. Especially important is the section in Making A Living Being Creative about taking notes. Too many new writers get combative and defensive when getting notes and it can derail a promising career almost immediately. The advice and perspective from seasoned writers on the subject is helpful to any up-and-comer.


Jordan Peele broke free from his sketch comedy series in a big way when he wrote and directed Get Out on his way to an Academy® Award for Best Original Screenplay. Issa Rae broke out from her web series with her HBO hit Insecure for which she just landed a Best Actress Emmy Award nomination. What happens when two of the freshest voices of the decade decide to team-up? Apparently, a massive bidding war that ends with a seven-figure deal and “break out” of their own for the writer of the original short story that the duo wants to turn into a film. Rae will star and Peele will produce as part of his production company Monkeypaw’s deal with Universal. The film will be based on Leyna Krow’s short story Sinkhole, about a family who moves to the suburbs and discovers that a mysterious sinkhole in their backyard can fix anything…even people. With themes of female perfection at the forefront, the genre story emerged from a Spokane writers’ group challenge to write a short story with the theme, “I Married A Monster.” It was originally published in a Pacific Northwest literary journal, which just goes to show that you can never be too precious about how you get your story out there. There’s no such thing as “too small.” Sure, getting published in The New Yorker or selling your script straight to Universal would be nice, but that’s not the reality for most people. Try working your story into a short and look at local journals like Krow did. Once you’re published, you officially own a piece of IP, which is significantly more valuable than a spec script, pitch or unwritten idea.


The plan of dipping its pen into every genre of ink has worked out well for Netflix, as the streamer has set a new record for Emmy nominations with a whopping 160 across almost every category. Even though it continues to set records, the service has yet to win an Outstanding Series award, falling behind rivals Hulu and Amazon, which won with The Handmaid’s Tale and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel respectively. Ozark, The Crown and Stranger Things will compete in the drama category, while Dead To Me and The Kominsky Method will compete in the comedy category, and Unbelievable and Unorthodox will compete in the limited series category. With such strong contenders, could this finally be Netflix’s year? It’s going to be tough. Two of the frontrunners, Watchmen with 26 nominations and Succession with 18 nominations, belong to HBO, and the comedy category just may go to Canadian favorite Schitt’s Creek for its final season—which shattered records of its own with 15 nominations. Ironically enough, the show gained popularity not on network Pop TV, but on Netflix. From Mad Men to Breaking Bad, Netflix has helped turn other network’s shows into Emmy winners, like a perpetually single person hooking up their friends and watching them all get married…


The Help Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is the latest Hollywood spokesperson working with The Ruderman Foundation to push for more opportunities for performers with disabilities. She starred in a video that compares hiring able-bodied performers over disabled performers with historically discriminatory practices like having men play women, and having white actors play a range of non-white ethnicities. The Foundation asks for studios to only consider performers who share their character’s disability. And while it may be going too far to deny a disabled performer the chance to play a disabled character unless they share the exact same condition, it does shine a light on the lack of disabled characters on television. One of the bigger issues is that actors with disabilities are not considered at all for roles unless the character is written with a disability, and in many of those cases, the disability is the character’s only characteristic. Real representation would see disabled actors being allowed to audition for roles written as able-bodied, since that is more authentic to real life where people with disabilities are not defined by their condition and are just as much a part of the world as everybody else.


Netflix has made it a priority this year to highlight Black voices and the streaming service dropped a bombshell with the announcement that classic television shows Moesha, The Game, Sister Sister, Girlfriends, The Parkers, Half & Half and One on One will be hitting the service between August and October of this year. People who grew up on these shows will now have a chance to re-watch them, while a new audience will be able to discover them for the first time. The Strong Black Lead Twitter account, Netflix’s official account for showcasing material by Black creators, announced the news to a lot of fanfare, so don’t be surprised if you see these titles trending in the Top 10 in the near future.


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