We had the good fortune of connecting with Nakia Stephens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nakia, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Honestly, I think my daily commitment to “discipline” is what has gotten me this far. Discipline meaning, making deliberate and dedicated choices that keep me aligned with my goals. I set myself on a very strict schedule: I block off specific times for Emails, DWO Business, Writing, Networking, and Studying. Discipline has contributed to much of my growth, and success to me is synonymous with growth.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Screenwriting is an art that requires high levels of imagination and audacity. We are world-builders and I think being able to balance objectivity and subjectivity is the real key to good storytelling. It’s my favorite exploration of psychology. But, navigating this industry is tough because there is no roadmap to follow, you have to just trust your art, trust your instincts, and believe in yourself enough to create what best represents what you want to say to the world.
I have always known that in order to stand out in this industry, I would need to make my own lane. So for me, Damn Write Originals was me creating that lane. Since 2014, Damn Write Originals has grown tremendously and our team has expanded far beyond just me – now the dream is bigger than me, now it’s about creating opportunities for other movers and shakers who not only have ideas but who can execute those ideas.
Through Innovation, Strategy, and Consistency, Damn Write Originals’ has been making our stamp in the indie world and we’ve been featured and recognized for our work by festivals and platforms such as BLAVITY, ABFF, Rolling Out Magazine, and Black Girls Rock! As founder and leader of the ship, I was also able to gain partnerships with major media outlets such as Revolt TV, Fox Soul, and even a development deal with Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s cable network, AspireTV.
I am so grateful for growth, support, and expansion and I am beyond excited for what’s in store for my team and me (both individually and collectively).
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many things to explore in LA! Let’s start with food: At some point, we definitely have to do brunch at Harriet’s rooftop, good food, and great music to set the vibe. Whenever we are in the mood for some good Mexican food, we can hit up Salsa and Beer. We’d definitely have to take a ride down PCH to Broad Street Oyster, co, for Malibu’s best lobster rolls, and for the best authentic peruvian food, we can slide to Mario’s. Of course, whenever we’re feeling hipster and want some gram-worthy pictures to go with our food, we can do Mama Shelter or 40 Love. The food options are limitless, to be quite honest.
As far as activities, on Sunday I’d definitely take them to Leimert Park marketplace or the Black Farmer’s Market to support all the local Black business. At some point we could hit up CAAM to see what dope exhibits they have, we could hike to the Hollywood sign, we could ride bikes on Santa Monica Pier, have a bonfire on Dockwilder beach, vibe outside at Sherman Oaks park with a book and some CBD infused lemonade, or drive a few hours for a trip in Joshua Tree.
These are just a few things I love to do in the city, as a transplant from Atlanta, I can definitely appreciate LA’s sunny and chill vibe.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give Damn Write Originals all the credit, regarding my success. Though I founded Damn Write Originals, myself, it’s the many talented creatives that were early supporters of the label that really pushed the needle forward. It’s a collaborative effort to run a creative business – so people like Shanay J. Campbell (DWO’s Head of Production), Alvin McBean (one of DWO’s frequent cinematographers), Kiana Woods, or Shayla Racquel (two of the most dedicated Directors I’ve worked with), Maia Miller (a powerhouse producer), and the numerous remarkable actors that we have been honored to have on-screen – the hundreds of people who contributed their time and talents to the Damn Write Originals brand, deserve to be recognized. I am forever grateful for them all!
personal photo: Tre Hazelwood