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Andre Jackson Discusses His Historical Pilot "Boley U.S.A."

Andre Jackson is an accomplished and award-winning actor, as well as a gifted writer who has been making some noise as of late with his film and TV projects. This Los Angeles-NY-Memphis talent is the recent Overall Winner of the Season 5 Filmmatic TV Pilot Awards, and we're happy to report also a recent signee of the Smith-Young Talent Agency! Andre was kind enough to enlighten us regarding his writing and historical and societally-relevant pilot "Boley U.S.A.".

1) How long have you been writing Andre?

About four years: I co-wrote a script with an exceptionally talented writer/director friend of mine and that was it. I was hooked. The learning curve was steep but the process was relatively painless – due, in large part, to my partner’s understanding of my strengths and weaknesses as a new screenwriter. A week after we completed that script I started writing on my own and, for the most part, haven’t stopped.

2) What screenwriting training have you received?

I’ve never had any formal training as a screenwriter. To be honest, I had no idea what screenwriting actually was until I started my career as an actor nearly 18 years ago. Since then, my education has come primarily from reading tons of scripts and continually writing. I read somewhere in the neighborhood of two to three scripts a week which, I think, comes to somewhere around 1,800 scripts, to date. In the early days of my acting career I used to go to this little bookstore on San Fernando Blvd. in Burbank (California) where they sold Hollywood stuff – memorabilia, posters, autographed headshots, etc. I would buy an old script, watch the movie, and compare what was written on the page with what eventually made it to the screen. It all fascinated me and introduced me to the creative power of screenwriting.

There are definitely books I find myself going back to from time to time (Story by Robert McKee, On Writing by Stephen King, Screenplay by Syd Field, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder) but the best lessons still come from simply reading and writing screenplays.

3) What genres do you lean towards? Are all of your works dramas?

My Netflix list would suggest a strong preference for romantic comedies. But, when it comes to writing, I definitely lean toward dark dramas. That world feels familiar to me and I love exploring the complexities of the characters who exist within it. I can’t constantly live in that space, though. The writing often requires going to places in my mind that are violent, painful or terrifyingly vulnerable. And those emotions don’t turn off and on like a light switch so that’s when I go to my rom-com que – when I’m purging myself of all that heaviness to live my actual life.

I’ve also written comedy scripts and really enjoy it. A mockumentary-style pilot I wrote, Miracle Mile, is about an organization running two residential group homes for children in Los Angeles. Before the Broadway shutdown, I had the good fortune of recruiting my Lion King castmates for a reading of the script one weekend between our matinee and evening performances. The 37-page reading lasted nearly two hours because they couldn’t stop laughing. Even now several of them will repeat lines and reenact scenes from the script! It doesn’t matter whether it’s comedy, drama, sci-fi, or horror; the goal for me is always to do more than just entertain. When the story is right, you can really move people.