Teri Brown-Jackson [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! And welcome to what may be our very last interview of 2019! It has been a incredible year making all of these wonderful friends, and our guest today is truly the cherry on top of the proverbial cake that would emulate our year here at Trainwreck’d Society. It’s the wonderful Teri Brown-Jackson, Everyone! Teri has an incredible story of triumph, especially in the world of television writing. She has worked on some of the finest programs you know and love, such as a personal favorite of mine, House of Payne, as well as the hit series The Parkers, and as I would learn in the answers below, one of my favorite series from my youth, In The House. I will admit, I felt pretty ashamed about the fact that I had forgotten about this wonderful show that I thoroughly loved in my youth. Yet, I am so excited that we Teri had some wonderful things to say about this delightful series, her work on the absolutely brilliant House of Payne, and SO much more.

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the insanely talented human being that is Teri Brown-Jackson! We shall catch you again in 2020 with some more incredible interviews after the December recaps of the year/decade that are coming soon. Until then, please enjoy this absolutely amazing interview that we are so happy to have cap off our year! Take care!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an aspiration you have had since you were very young? Or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I actually fell into it starting out as a journalist. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in telecommunications/journalism, I planned on becoming a news broadcaster. I knew what I wanted so my senior year of high school I got braces because I needed the perfect smile. Lol (Thank God I had my senior pictures taken before the braces came on.) Anyway, I had several internships at NBC and CBS affiliate stations while attending MSU, so when I moved to Los Angeles, one of my first jobs was working at KFWB news radio as an editor assistant. Soon I found out I would have to start out in a smaller market like Barstow if I really wanted to pursue that career. Knowing that I didn’t want to relocate to “hick town USA,” I had to alter my career path.

Then one day a neighbor, who knew I wrote for news, asked if I would be willing to be his writing partner because he tried several times to get into the Warner Brothers Writers Workshop, and was denied each time. He figured he’d have a better chance if he teamed up with me. He taught me what he knew about sitcom writing and together we wrote a spec script. Funny, I don’t even remember what that spec was, but we entered it into the Warner Brothers Workshop, and we got in. From then on I went from journalism to entertainment writing and never looked back.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that you still use in your work today?

Okay, this is going to tell my age, but my first gig was working on In The House not to be confused with House of Payne. This was a sitcom on NBC staring L.L. Cool J. I’m happy this was my first job, but I soon learned all the “glitz isn’t glamor”; like learning that promises can be made all day, but unless it’s in your contract, it doesn’t mean much. I also learned that some people are willing to do anything for a little taste of money, and this business can be cut throat.

Unfortunately, after one season, my writing partner and I went separate ways, and I had to reestablish myself as a single writer. I think the hardest part from that experience was losing a partner, a friend, and my agent behind it.

You worked as a writer on a sitcom that was one of a kind for its time I believe, and that would be House of Payne. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this program? Was there anything that set itself apart from other projects you had worked on prior?

Working on House of Payne was like working on a sitcom to the 10th power. It was ground breaking because prior to that show the typical format was after a table read, the writers would work on that same script for the rest of the week until the day of shoot, which could be 4 days later. Each day we would make edits or punch up the script after each run-thru so on the day of the shoot, we knew we had a tight and funny show. Hearing the audience laugh during the taping was our confirmation. That all changed working on House of Payne. Instead of taking the time to produce one episode a week, we were shooting 2-3 episodes per week, which was unheard of. It felt like we were a well-refined factory kicking out shows. While one episode was being shot, we would be working on two different episodes in the writers’ room. It was crazy. While half of the writers were working from L.A., the other half were in Atlanta at Tyler Perry Studios. We would work by conference call with the Atlanta writers every day.

Normally it takes five seasons (or five years) to produce 100 episodes, which is the goal to become syndicated. We however produced 100 episodes in one season. Btw, I also learned how to write well under pressure. (LOL)

 

 

If you were handed the opportunity to write and produce the biopic or series about any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

It’s funny that you ask. Years ago I read the autobiography and wrote a biopic on the First Family of Gospel, The Winans. Unfortunately, things fell through and it never came to fruition. However, currently as we speak I am working on a biopic about Isaac Hayes with my manger/actor Ro Brooks. Isaac Hayes has an amazing rags to riches story. He was entered into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and is the first African-American to win an Academy Award for a music score, yet people still know little about him.

There are so many amazing people with untold stories, and one day I will write another one. But for now, I’ll take one at a time.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

My desire is to be the next Shonda Rhimes, having several TV shows on the air at the same time and during hiatus write award winning feature films. Until then I plan on teaching a Half-Hour TV Spec Writing class at UCLA Extension this spring, and my award winning short film, Dark Chocolate, can be seen at various film festivals around town.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I really smile every day. In fact, most people don’t know when I’m having a bad day. My grandma used to say, “Any day above ground is a good day,” and that alone should give you a reason to smile.

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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