Up and coming, award winning (we've got the photos to prove it!) talent Charlie George told us how her Asian and Queer identity has inspired her work and gave some motivational advice for aspiring peers!
Firstly, what are your pronouns and if you are happy to share, how do you identify (feel free to not answer the second part but pronouns would be good please if you don’t mind)
She/Her. I am queer/bi-sexual/pansexual (I find it hard to define if i'm honest, it's in flux often, but all of these 3 cover my sexuality well)
You were one of the writers on Charlie Brooker’s AntiViral Wipe, has it helped you cope with Covid 19?
Yes. If by that you mean, I learnt how to wash my hands properly (happy birthday twice, using soap and tears whilst thinking about the government's "plans"); alongside remembering I had the ability to laugh and an opportunity to speak to other people than my housemates.
How do you get into comedy and TV writing?
I don't know, I'm still doing it and everyone's journey is unique! I started writing properly at age 16. Mainly prose, short stories and terrible poems that i’m glad no one will read. I progressed to writing scripts for live performance, which I was doing a lot of, as a dancer/circus performer and general disappointment to my parents. I wrote my first play at 19 in Bristol, which was a fictional account based on real-life experiences set on an LGBTQ club scene. Bristol being the first city I moved to from my home-town of Swindon (home to the legendary roundabout) and where I started to explore and forge my identity as a complete and utter queerdo. I've been writing ever since, applying for every available opportunity and regularly annoying people via email - begging them to teach me things or rip my work to shreds with feedback so I can get better. Sometimes they reply. But mainly they have lives.
What is your career highlight so far?
A script I wrote got shortlisted for a bursary and I received my first ever table read. Actual actors spoke my words, and I saw a mixed-race queer couple come to life in the room and make people laugh, it felt one step closer to seeing that reflected on screen.
You’ve taken part in various bursaries, initiatives and schemes at the BBC, ITV and Zeppotron (to name a few), any advice for people who are looking to apply for these?
If you're anything like me, maybe you don't feel ready or good enough, do it anyway! Get a spreadsheet and make a list of all the things you want to apply for and use those deadlines to apply yourself to writing and telling the stories only you can tell, imagine and want to see on screen, that you've never seen before, or have, but want to see told in a different way. Sometimes you will feel like giving up and that everything you've written should be burnt in a small house fire, keep going! Watch a lot of programmes, see what you like and don't like and then switch off, go inward and listen to yourself. Create a sense of trust in what you tell yourself about what needs to be seen and told, because in there (underneath the nasty voices) you know. Follow that, throw it up and be disappointed that it didn't come out as good as it was in your head, then rewrite it over and over and over again till you can bear to look at it and share it with someone you trust to give feedback. Rewrite it again and again. Go for a walk, maybe eat an entire bag of sweets and binge watch a series whilst telling yourself that you're "background processing," then come back to it and see it with fresh eyes. When you finally press click and send it off for something BE PROUD. Celebrate getting it done. Rest. Treat yourself. Expect not to get it. And then move immediately to the next one on the list. (This is as honest as I can be about my process, the only thing I'd change about it really is the sweets)
What is your view on media representation of the Asian LGBTQ community?
The fact that I am struggling to answer this question says it all really, there isn't enough, especially in the UK. (please don't bombard me with examples now, if it's not widely visible and available to all it's not enough) I would like to amplify Burnt Roti Magazine who do great work and 4 Brown Girls Who Write. 'The Bold Type' by Sarah Watson in the US has a great interracial couple storyline but it's on the Freeform channel and not widely accessible. Iranian-American Desiree Akhavan does great work advocating LGBTQ culture in the film industry and Mindy Kaling does a lot for US TV & Film. Canadian-American Nisha Ganatra is a hero of mine and if you haven't seen her film Chutney Popcorn about a young Indian American lesbian you should!
What’s coming up for you next?
I've got two (soon to be 3) scripts that I've been working on in Lockdown as my new writing samples: A comedy-drama based on my experiences growing up mixed-race, working class and Jehovah's Witness in Swindon in the 90's. An ensemble sit-com based loosely on my experiences working in a corporate yoga and wellness studio. A children's animation script with a mixed-race female protagonist solving crimes with cool gadgets and technology (it aims to teach young people critical thinking skills about being online in a funny accessible way). I'm also waiting to finalize a placement with a production company based in London who have agreed to take me on as a paid intern for 6 months! I'm so excited to finally learn how a TV show actually gets made and all about the script to the screen process! Also it will be great to be working again as I've been on universal credit for some time now and like many this period of time during lockdown has been challenging. But I'm not giving up my dream of becoming a professional screenwriter and helping to breathe life into all kinds of entertaining, funny and impactful stories for generations to come!
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