Today we’d like to introduce you to Syreeta Singleton.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I started writing at 11 years old. I was in Mr. Serizawa’s fifth-grade class and I think we had quiet time where we could write anything we wanted. And I had just been broken up with on the playground. So I wrote a horror story about a masked murderer who triggered a power outage in our classroom, and once the lights came on we’d find my ex beheaded. Judge me if you want, but this is my origin story.
When writing time was over, I read it to the class and I’ll never forget the looks on their faces. And from that moment I knew I wanted to write.
I spent the next seven years writing anything: raps and essays, but mostly poetry. I’d write poems for kids to give to their crushes and to get over break-ups. I thought I’d major in journalism, instead I majored in Public Relations where I wrote press releases and really long e-mails.
It wasn’t until I got offered a PA job that I discovered my medium. I fell in love the actors and the way they brought scenes to life, I fell in love with craft services, even 12 hour days. After that summer I wrote my first comedy script, titled So Jaded – about two high best friends who “accidentally” kidnap someone. I knew it was nutty, but I asked a few people to read it and was surprised to hear it was good. Then I started writing all the time. I got Final Draft and wrote during my PR classes, secretly envying all of the TV and Film majors.
When Issa Rae launched her Youtube channel, she held a workshop for content creators. I went and she agreed to read So Jaded. She loved it and soon we were producing it. Although So Jaded didn’t get picked up, a couple years later Issa’s show Insecure did — and she invited me to come and work in the writers’ room. So I left my PR job, my health insurance, and everything I considered stable to become an assistant on a job I thought would only last 14 weeks. That was about four years ago. Today I’ve written for three TV shows and am currently developing two films with major studios.
Please tell us about your art.
I write comedies about black women. I want to keep centering black women and our unique stories for the world to see and experience us in new ways. I know how impactful that kind of representation has been for me, for my community, and for my son. We have so many stories to tell.
But mostly I’m just having a good time. When I have an idea I think is fun, I’ll explore the “what ifs” of that world. I get a rush when I’ve fallen into an idea or character I find fascinating and new.
We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
Don’t be afraid to reach out. Whenever I’m lonely, it’s because I’ve isolated myself. Somehow I’ve allowed my fears or my ego to convince me that isolation is better. Yes, you need space to create – but this art is collaborative and we do need each other, even if it’s just for encouragement’s sake. I urge you to go to that event, grab that coffee, share that thing you’re afraid to share… you’ll find that everyone feels the same way.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can see my work on HBO’s Insecure, Showtime’s Black Monday — and on Apple in 2020.
Derrius Logan, Jahbrielle Henning, Kindsey Young