Friday, December 11, 2015

Twinja Book Reviews 3rd Annual Diversity Month Day Nine: Interview with @Arkwen452 + month long #giveaway

Just to let you guys know, we’re working double duty to make sure we fit everyone in, so expect two new interviews this weekend(possibly more after a few extra confirmations!). As far as our diversity month goes, thanks so much for folks who are coming and supporting all these great inclusive voices!
Up next! We met this blogger through the grapevine because, diversity. It’s hard to be a book blogger who discusses diversity and not eventually connect with other bloggers talking about it too!

She’s super awesome, and a writer in a different medium, which is even more awesome! And she’s even a twin! So we must be friggin’ destined to cross paths with this girl!

Get ready for an excellent interview on representation!

Twinja Book Reviews Annual Diversity Month Event Day Eight:

Screenwriter G. Jacks

Since we already know you so well, this is more of an intro for those who don’t know you, so sit up in the front of the class and introduce yourself!

My name is Gianna.

I am 25 years, I have a tendency to ramble (so, sorry for that) and I am a screenwriter and/or script writer. The distinction between the two here is in regards to film and TV. I have written scripts for short and feature length films before, but I am currently venturing into script writing for television.

What can you tell us about your journey being an script writer?

My journey to become a script writer is still ongoing, but it started off as kind of a quirky one as I did not decided to pursue writing professionally until my junior year of high school. Up until that point I had plans to pursue a career in criminal law to become a prosecutor.

Weird, right? But I feel I should also mention that in that same year I had completed a book and a half and started outlining story arcs for a serialized television drama in my free time. It took a friend of a friend, at the time, that full year to get me to even consider the idea of pursuing writing. At first I thought he was sick of sitting in between my best friend and I (who was like my god and chief when it came to editing and pitching ideas to) as we talked about my work.

After high school and two years of community college, I transferred to a university to major in film studies and production because I was in love with the idea of writing and directing my own work. And while I did love writing and directing, I learned that I had more fun directing or producing work of others, rather than my own.

On set things change at the drop of a hat and as the writer, it was harder to let go of scenes and lines that you created rather than someone else's script. When I finished my BA, I went on to pursue my MA in Creative Writing focusing specially on screenwriting. It was there that I realized I really only wanted to focus on script writing, specifically writing for television.

It isn't an easy task to accomplish, but I am currently working on spec scripts of TV shows for my portfolio (you need several samples) saving up (and planning) for my move to California and working part-time as a Script Analysis.

What inspires the content you create?

Hmm, this might be a long winded answer haha, but I'll try to keep it brief. I generally consider myself a screenwriter because is where my career seems to be heading, but I started off writing short stories when I was very young. I even started a book series in high school. I didn't finish it, but almost every day I think about it and tell myself that I will finish one day.

And it wasn't until a few years ago I started to realized why the series meant so much to me. A lot of the characters were based off of friends and family in my life at the time who came from different background, economically and ethnically.

When I started to pursue writing as a profession a part of my creative spark dimmed and I started to think about ways I could create what the masses wanted in terms of style, format and in a way predictability. I lost a level of connection to my work and while others liked what I was doing, I would always feel it was just ok work.

I realized that I wasn't seeing myself in certain things and not just in my own work. I would find glimmers of similarity here and there in characters(in books or on the screen) but on a psychological level. Maybe a character would be petite like me, or African American like me, or academically driven like me, or have spirally curly hair like me or dimples like me, but like I said these were just glimmers.

Now, I have a handicap. A physical handicap that most people can see when I walk, but since I can walk people will down play it. A lot. I am fortunate enough to be able to use my legs to go about where and when I please to a certain extent. But I have friends and family who do not have that privilege or who limited mobility.

I am more than just my handicap, I am more than just my dimples, and I am more than just my ethnicity. I am layered, like an onion (as the saying goes ^-^) and my family and friends from all over the world are too. And that is what inspires me to create. To emulate those layers. To show humanity to the world in relatable, every day characters with great stories.

I people watch, I ask question and I listen. Sometimes it's when a random encounter in a grocery store check-out line turns into a ten minute discussion, or when you hear someone singing in a changing room behind yours.

Now, I am still learning and working on my methods because there is always room to grow and learn, but so far it's been working for me.

What was it like for you growing up?

Well, as I mentioned, I do have a handicap so growing up it often felt like I was living apart form everyone else. Meaning my life barely paralleled what is considered the 'normal' way of growing up. I was home schooled a few times, which left no real room for error when it came to school work.

I would even say that on some level it helped me to stay driven and focused when it came to school. Luckily, I was always able to bounce back into the rhythm of things when I was able to return to school, but I hated it so much because I was missing out on 'life' with my friends.

Besides my twin brother, who shares the same handicap, I do not think it would have been as easy growing up on the line that we did.

And when I say line, I mean the line between full and limited mobility during recess, class trips, gym etc. So it was difficult, still is, to have to explain where I fit or why I could walk on my own, but still needed braces, walkers or wheelchairs on standby.

Most people think a person has to be either this or that, but you know I'm an onion so...

How can we make the conversation about diversity where it needs to be?

Mmm...this question has such a simple and complex answer for me because I know that a nice mix of opinions are present in a piece or conversation when I am able to see myself and one or two my closest friends as relating to the topic.

And just to give a clearer picture here, two of the main people that come to mine are from Japan and Brazil. We're close because we share an interest in film and screenwriting, but also because of our differences.

And since I'm from America when I do see connections outside of myself in a discussion, I feel like we're taking a look at a bigger picture and not just gleaming through a peep hole.

Riving up conversation about diversity I feel has a lot to do with the concept of perspective and a willingness (ability) to see more than what your eyes or the media commands you to see.

I mean honestly, aren't books, TV and film suppose act as artistic outlets that are meant to reflect upon life and society? Instead, main stream is stuck in this type-casting, generic representation vortex.

Main stream media should really be looking at indie films, independently published material and the shows on streaming platforms to grasp a better concept on the importance of diverse perspectives. (Culturally, domestically, ethnicity etc.)

One of my favorite new shows to watch and analysis is Netflix's Sense8 because it literally takes place all around the world. It examines several different cultures, life styles and languages while effortlessly anchoring the narrative with these eight strangers.

Who are all connected to each other due to a shared consciousness. Which is the best aspect of the show (in my opinion) because it reminds me of my friends and how our likes and differences keep us close and connected.

What are creators not doing well when it comes to the conversation of diversity?

To put it simply, emulating it. They should spend five minutes on a train, in bar, at a jazz show or in the the real world in general to actually see the people they're attempting to create for.

It's also important for wannabe creators to understand their audience and the medium they're writing for. DO the research for your craft and DON'T assume imitation is the answer to succeeding. Take it seriously and make it count.

What types of books(or media) did you like consuming growing up?

No, I did not always feel represented in the types of books, TV shows or films I watched growing up, but on some level that had to do with my level of consciousness about it. It wasn't until I was older that I started to actively seek out things that I felt were more relatable to me if I wasn't writing it myself.

When I was younger, I studied (of course) the books, films and TV shows I'd watch and learn the formats and the markers for twists in the story lines. (Because that's what normal kids do, right?) However, I do wish I did start to actively seek out the acute mediums that did offer diverse representation before starting high school.

Are there any forms of media that you thinks gets representation right?

Off the top of my head I'd have to say of the TV shows that I watch and I feel do a good job with strong, diverse representation (of females and POC) would be: Jane the Virgin, Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Rosewood (new show) UnReal, and Orphan Black.
These are the kinds of shows that I love to watch and would love to write for.

What would you tell your teenage self that you wish you knew now about your growth?

I'd tell her to slow down and compare her level of accomplishments to others. The path that she thought she was going to take detoured into something else, so it's okay for her to not be sure about the future.

The career path that she is meant to be on will be there waiting for her when she arrives.

What sites would you recommend for those trying to educate themselves better on the conversation about diversity in books and media?

Um I don't know that many, but a few sites I'd recommend would be:

Her Story Arc (it's a site specifically for stories and media that showcases strong and progressive female characters) :

ConStar Writes, (who's a blogger who likes to cover diversity in TV):

Fangs in Fantasy (is more or less a blog dedicated to analyzing and discussing the representation accuracy of POC, LGBTIQA and characters with disabilities in TV, films and books):

Wild Unicorn Herd (A blog dedicated to creators of color for mostly Sci-fi-ish related material):

And since I am a screenwriter, I do focus more on TV/Film material so hashtags I like to use are: #diversityintv or #diversityinfilm.

Finally, where can folks go for updates, and to learn more about your projects going on?

All updates can be found on my website:
G. Jacks (Gianna) started writing creatively at the age of seven, and takes pride in the ability to learn not only about the world she lives in, but also herself through the written word. She is a freelance dramedy, comedy, mystery/suspense, short story author and screenwriter.

To date, She has three written and produced short films under her belt and is currently striding to put the finishing touches onto her first feature-length screenplay. When she’s not writing, drinking coffee or re-watching I Love Lucy episodes, she likes to lay upside down over the edge of her bed and watch Netflix. :-)


  1. None of the pictures are showing up. The same for previous posts as well. Not sure of you guys are aware, or it may be my browser.

  2. @Lekeisha, I have to check up on that! I've been hearing horrible things about blogger, so I'm hoping this isn't the case XD


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