Interview with February 2020 Diversity Winner - Amena Kheshtchin-Kamel

February 05, 2020

Interview with February 2020 Diversity Winner - Amena Kheshtchin-Kamel

How long have you been writing and what made you want to write in the first place?

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to create, and I think it’s because I innately love communicating stories and concepts to others. My intro to the world of arts started with piano, music composition, and theatre. Through acting and performance, I realized I loved words to the point I wanted to write them for other actors. I began taking the craft seriously as a writer in 2011 when I was fortunate enough to get into the University of Southern California’s intensive summer film program for high schoolers (thanks to the support of my family and USC’s selection). While there, I wrote, edited, directed, and produced my first three short films. That’s when I knew I wanted to go to film school, and I did! Then I went directly into law school afterward, and that’s actually where I really polished my writing. I’m currently developing a sci-fi superhero comic book for young adults as writer and illustrator, which serves as a companion piece to my one-hour pilot, Obscuria. I channel my experience and background in improv, acting, music, and illustrating during my entire writing process, which involves not only world-building and writing the story, but also acting out each scene to make sure dialogue is authentic, while also producing the accompanying music and drawing up concept art for each of my stories. I do this for each script I write.


What genre do you prefer to write in? What draws you to that genre? 

I prefer dramas and sci-fi, specifically the superhero genre. I grew up on comics and video games — I know DC and Marvel like the back of my hand, and now I’m reading some great work from indie/smaller publishers too. However, I also enjoy writing comedy. Drama and comedy intersect and if done well, it’s a thrill! The common thread in my writings, whether drama, sci-fi, or comedy, is my passion for the under-represented and the underdogs that overcome obstacles. People who feel they don’t belong and are longing to belong, and finally thrive after recognizing the power in their uniqueness — that’s typically the heart of my stories. I’m also drawn to writing anti-heroes, someone you wouldn’t expect to be a hero but shows they ultimately are. I am a multi-racial and multi-cultural woman, so my leads are typically multi-racial, biracial, and/or racially ambiguous women. We don’t often see multi-racial characters onscreen and discussed, which is something I’m working on bringing to the table. 


Tell us three things you're currently digging.

I love The Good Place—everything about it from the concept, diversity, and writing, to the casting— to the point I wrote a spec and to this day, it’s one of my best learning experiences. With my love of all things superhero, I’m also a huge fan of the Arrow-verse on the CW and impressed with how they brought all these stories together for so long.  I’m also enjoying Sera and the Royal Stars by Vault Comics, which is based on Indo-Persian mythology. 


I love food — I’m open-minded with food and love trying new things. My favorite is Persian food. I’ve been fortunate to travel, and my favorite part about traveling is to learn about the cuisine and eat different food around the world. 

 

What interested you about the Roadmap Diversity Initiative?

Being a multi-racial woman and racially ambiguous, people have a hard time placing me into categories. I wish we could do away with assumptive pigeon-holing, but unfortunately, it exists. I know how difficult it is to get job offers in any industry as a minority woman, specifically in the entertainment industry. I’m happy to be part of Roadmap and this initiative because I support what Roadmap is trying to do with inclusion and addressing the lack of diversity. Truly wonderful work being done by Roadmap. What the industry really needs are more varied perspectives, and, while I have a lot to offer as a writer, my experiences as a minority allow me to have quite a unique outlook that I could share.


Where can we find you?

My Twitter handle is @amenakamel and Instagram is @minakheshtchin

Podcast website is http://www.legaleasepodcast.com

Thank you Roadmap! 





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