As we all know, I’m a reporter. Seems like I’ve been reporting, in one way or another, all of my life. I’ve interviewed politicians, school teachers, a couple of celebrities (Jewel was a surprise) and each time I try to do my homework on them. I want them to walk away knowing that I respected them and their work enough to know that I wanted to ask thoughtful questions.
As a blogger and having some awesome BFFs associated with the USA Network (favorite one EVER) I’ve gotten to ask questions from some pretty cool peeps, including James Roday, Dule Hill, Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, and of course the show creators or what I like to call the trinity — Franks, Nix, and Eastin.
But when I got a chance to ask Diahann Caroll, — legendary and inspiring actress–a couple of questions…well, I was kinda floored. (Mrs. Caroll is on the hit show White Collar on Tuesdays 10/9 central)
And nervous. Oh so nervous! See, the interview was on the same day I would be traveling to Dallas to fly to my graduate program (more on that later). So not only did I have to finish all my work work but also find intelligant questions to ask a legend in the ten minutes of off time I had.
Yeah. Such is my life.
Oh but it was all worth it. Mrs. Caroll is amazing, sweet, and patient. And she answered my questions –one of which is about actors and scripts. To read the entire transcript, click here.
So my writing question was:
What do you look for in a script that helps you identify with your character?
The answer is cardinal. She said is it was something undescribable. Something intangible that makes her want to take the role. Something in the writing that makes her want to say those words.
That later part — makes her want to say those words — is the most important part of the entire conversation. As a writer, it’s important to keep readers (actors in this case) interested. And it should be seamless. It should be something almost instinctual. Something that just makes you want to say those words out loud.
Mrs. Carroll calls it instinctual, emotional, a kinship, that feeling that an actor gets when they are reading a part. It jumps out at you and makes you want people to understand the character.
Good writing, GREAT writing should make you feel that. Even though a character maybe evil or bad due to or inspite of their circumstances, the reader should feel ownership of them. They should have a gut reaction. The character should move the reader.
What a perfect education for a writer by a perfect teacher.
Needless to say the my MFA writing education started days earlier than scheduled. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Thank you, Mrs. Caroll.