Interview with 126th writer signed - Kenyetta Raelyn

September 05, 2020

Interview with 126th writer signed - Kenyetta Raelyn

Tell us a little bit about your writing background and the road to getting signed.

It has been a looong road.  I started off with a bang over 10 years ago by winning a few fellowships with a comedy feature. My script then had serious interest from a major studio and A list producer. The problem was, I didn’t really know or understand the entertainment business and so the initial gains I made from those fellowships quickly fizzled out. Heartbroken, I pivoted and focused on opening up a business. I didn’t write anything worthwhile for years.

But the writing dream would not die. Fast forward to 2018, I decided to give this writing dream one last try before I completely threw in the towel. I shuttered my soap and candle business. Spent the next 18 months head down writing the first feature I had written in 10 years. Then I formed a writers group (Writers Mafia), refined my script, and banged out a couple of pilots.

That focus paid off. In 2019, I won a couple of major script contests, and I knew I had to take matters into my own hands this go ‘round and learn the business of marketing myself. The industry game had changed so much since my first “wins.” I wished there had been a Joey Tuccio and Roadmap in the early 00s. Joey visited The Writers Lap in Fall 2019. I saw that he was so genuine and truly cared about writers and their careers. I asked him how to get a manager and he said, point blank: Get into the Top Tier program. I thought, if I’m not willing to invest in myself, why should anyone else invest in me?

6 months later, at the start of COVID-19, I decided to invest in myself and take the plunge in the Top Tier program. I met a number of managers and pitched to them. I got better and better until my current rep and I connected and we hit it off.  We both had boarding school in our backgrounds and similar world views. Simultaneously, Joey was going hard and contacting reps and continuing to advocate for me, sending out my logline, following up, and making sure major reps knew who I was. I’ve never (as far as I know) had anyone go the distance for me like that. Joey and his team (Dorian, Briana, Alexandra) are special people. Turns out two different reps from Circle read my work and were impressed enough to team up and rep me together.  That’s when things took off, and the rest is herstory.

You're signed with Circle of Confusion. Tell us a little bit about the difference between writing as an unsigned writer vs working with a manager. (Or, if it's too soon for that, tell us what you're most looking forward to about working with a manager).

With a manager, now you’re writing for two (or three).  They want to be involved and consulted in all aspects of your creative life. They will have thoughts about who, what, and how you are creating. It’s a marriage. Which, for a writer who generally writes autonomously, can be an uncomfortable paradigm shift. I look at them as a part of my team. My muscle. You may still hustle up your own opportunities, but they will help you field the offers and help decide which offer is best for your career. As I understand it, they also leverage their relationships to get your name out there and the work and opportunities flowing back to you. Having a team that believes in you, your career cheerleaders, and who will take off some of the burden of marketing yourself, leaves room for you to plan and write. It’s a dream scenario.

Who are your writing influences? Whose work do you admire?

I love prestige pieces. Stories that go slow and are nuanced and soapy. I gravitate towards shows that are grounded and intellectual, with dark, muscular themes. Like Mad Men, Downtown Abbey, Succession, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and Ozark. I’m a fan of all these creators: Julian Fellowes, Vince Vaugn, Beau Willimon, Jesse Armstrong, Bill Dubuque, Courtney Kemp, and Glen Mazzara.

How did you discover Roadmap Writers?

I’ve known about Roadmap since Joey started it. I watched him grow it from the sidelines. It wasn’t until Joey flew across the country to visit us at the 2019 Meryl Streep Writers Lab and gave us a pitching clinic that I started to drink the Roadmap kool-aid. It was my first time meeting him. Joey is inimitable. His energy is unmatched and his joy for what he is doing is so apparent and authentic. I can’t say I discovered Roadmap. But it discovered me, and once I saw that it solved a true pain-point for writers without representation, it was a wrap. No one out there is doing what Roadmap is doing, the way Roadmap is doing it! I met more managers in the Manager Track program than in my whole writing career combined. After dipping my toe into the Pitch Prep waters, I was convinced of the program’s power and dove head into the Manager Track program.

Other than getting signed, what's jazzing you right now?

It’s work work work. Things are starting to come at me left and right. It’s what I asked the universe for. Be clear on what you ask for! It will come. I’m jazzed to explore getting on a show as a staff writer. I’m bingeing a lot. It’s something I’ve been seriously working towards for about 4 years now.  I’m also jazzed about being able to travel again soon.  Can’t wait to get back to the East Coast and visit my peoples!





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