May 16, 2021

Feedback from Kemiyondo Coutinho and J. Holtham

Swamp Boys by Yayabell Debay (fantasy/science fiction feature)

An introverted teenage girl visits her estranged aunt in the Swampy town of Castor, Louisiana and is turned into the creature that has tormented her nightmares, forcing her into the sinister side of a world filled with folk magic and Biblical monsters.

Featuring Haley Powell, Kimberly Hébert, Garrett Schroeder, Elayn J. Taylor, Inger Tudor, Antonio David Lyons, and Tamika Simpkins

Yayabell Debay is a junior at Pepperdine University where she studies acting with a double minor in creative writing and French. Originally, raised in Ethiopia, where she performed in local theatrical productions and served as a district and educational volunteer for disadvantaged communities, Yayabell moved to California in 2018 to attend college. She has worked on stage and off in several theatrical productions including Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley and Shakespeare’s As You Like It. She is a creative assistant at the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts and copy editor for Kadd Kena Publishing. She is currently working on her feature screenplay Swamp Boys and is in the process of adapting her short story, The Summertime Motel, into a short film.

Sugar’s Paradise by Lauren Marissa Smith (period drama pilot)

Sugar’s Paradise is a lush one-hour period drama centering the story of Ebony Exotica’s rise from burlesque dancer to criminal mastermind amongst Harlem’s 1940s Black social elite. It is one woman’s journey of success, sexual reclamation and self-actualization.

Featuring Lakisha May, Leonard A. Thomas, Antonio David Lyons, Freddie Fulton, Andrew Elvis Miller, Rob Nagle, Eboni Flowers, and Inger Tudor

Lauren Marissa Smith is an artist, writer, actor and producer who uses the intersection of language and imagery to celebrate Black womanhood. She creates worlds in which her characters take their sovereignty, hone their power and fulfill the highest, truest expression of themselves. She is the writer and creator of the digital series, Maybe it’s Me, which is set for release in 2022. The show focuses on seven unknowingly connected people as their lives and relationships shift over the course of one night in New York City. As an actor, her favorite roles include Sarah in Funnyhouse of a Negro, Charlie in the award-winning film Charlie and Daniel, and Tillie Petunia in the AUDELCO recognized production of On Striver’s Row. Lauren is also currently the Soul Producer in Resident at the National Black Theatre in Harlem for the 2020-21 season. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Spelman College.

Lady Parts by Christina Martin (comedy pilot)

An impulsive medical resident attempts to escape her overbearing parent’s influence by dropping out of her program and joining the staff of a soapy hospital drama.

Featuring chandra thomas, Tristan Laurence Perez, Elayn J. Taylor, Alex Morris, Andrew Elvis Miller, Hank Chen, Lexi Graboski, Anna Sun, and Rashawn Nadine Scott

A native Houstonian, Christina Martin was practically born into storytelling. Growing up at The Ensemble, the oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, she rarely missed an opening night and, even as a child, was always called upon to give feedback on their productions.

She later went on to study drama at her beloved Spelman College where she had the honor of learning from a number of dynamic, working artists, including noted playwright and author, Pearl Cleage.

Upon her graduation, Christina moved to Los Angeles and, though she’d always loved writing, it took many changes – going from casting to talent management to film sales to ad sales – for her to finally realize that telling stories was the only thing she wanted to do.

Today she is a Daytime Emmy-nominated writer best known for her work on the Emmy Award-winning digital series Giants, now streaming on BET+. A writer of many genres, Christina can’t help but inject at least a little humor into everything she does.