The most indispensable role on any film or TV production is its writer. Words are a powerful thing, and without them, absolutely nothing can be done—so the writer’s role on Hollywood sets is not only important but key to the lifeblood of a TV show or film. Meet Elizabeth Hunter, one of the most sought after writers in Hollywood. With film credits including Jump the Broom and The Fighting Temptations, plus TV credits on shows like ER, Charmed and The L Word, Hunter is a wordsmith of tremendous talent. EBONY.com recently spoke with her to find out how she weaves magic with her words.
EBONY: How do you contribute to the overall process of making a film?
Elizabeth Hunter: Filmmaking is a very collaborative process, but it usually starts with the screenwriter. In most cases the writer comes up with the idea, puts the words to paper, and with any luck is nearby with computer ready in case the director, cast or producers have any questions or ideas on how to make the film even better. Usually they do. In that case, a good screenwriter will listen and execute those ideas in a unique and insightful way.
EBONY: Why did you pick screenwriting as a career?
EH: From an early age, I needed to tell stories. I was drawn to the size and scope of film. I loved sitting in a dark theater eating buttered popcorn, watching human drama unfold. The first film that made me understand the social power and importance of film was Do the Right Thing. I was eager and young and wanted to heal the world with my stories, so I jumped on the bandwagon and never looked back. I no longer eat buttered popcorn, but still love the feeling of entering a large dark screening room and watching the screen light up before me.
EBONY: What distinctive quality do you bring to your craft?
EH: A very open mind.
EBONY: Are there any obstacles you’ve had to overcome to achieve success in your career?
EH: I could fill this entire [website] with stories of obstacles other writers and I have to overcome on a daily basis. I would say one of the biggest challenges is to continue to believe in myself, the power of my stories, and my ability to tell them when people question it on a daily basis. Everyone’s an angry critic these days.
EBONY: Please share some advice for others who look to follow in your path.
EH: The best advice I can give is to cultivate and trust your voice, then write and read. If you like a movie or an episode of a television show, don’t just re-watch it, read the script.
EBONY: What’s next for you?
EH: I am writing some original shows. Stay tuned and pray for me.
Gil Robertson IV is a noted A&E and Black lifestyle journalist, author and producer. President and co-founder of the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), he resides in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Follow the AAFCA on Twitter @theaafca.