We had the good fortune of connecting with Shakira Pressley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shakira, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think that the biggest risk I’ve taken in my career is openly making the decision to not just write what is considered marketable in the tv/film industry. Writing is all about finding your voice and passions. If the only thing you’re ever concerned about is making something that you can sell, you’ll only be holding yourself back on what you want to create and bring into the world. This goes for writing rooms as well. If you’re too afraid to insert that joke or intense moment into your script, then you’re doing yourself and the show a disservice. Be bold. Make what you want and be proud of those decisions.
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.
How I got to where I am today was honestly a bit of a fluke. I went to Emerald City Comic Con to support my older brother’s comic book booth and while exploring the Artists Alley I came across a man who was drawing characters from a series I loved as a child. We had a long conversation about it before the man asked me what I did. I informed him that I was attempting to become a writer and that I had just moved to LA to pursue my dreams. He continued to give me his card and told me to hit him up if I was interested in freelance. I thought he was lying about being a successful showrunner (because everyone in LA supposedly is), but when I googled him I realized that he wasn’t lying! I promptly sent him my samples and starting working for him on my first series at Cartoon Network! It was definitely a moment of, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. If I hadn’t had a million scripts written before this moment, I wouldn’t have been able to land that job! That’s one of the most important pieces of advice that I can give now. Make sure you have original and spec scripts written, even if you don’t think you’ll run into anyone who can help you anytime soon. I went from working retail for years and only being able to writes stories at night to being able to professionally write full-time, just by being ready when I finally got given a chance.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Seeing as my best friends are still on the east coast whenever they come to visit LA, I end up bringing them to all the places that seem basic to LA Natives, but exciting for those who’ve never been here before. I love bringing friends to the Blu Jam Cafe for breakfast and then Amoeba after because they’re very close to one another. Lil Tokyo for some cool anime or figurines. Koreatown for some Kimbap. Castaway in Burbank or the Perch in LA is a great place to take them for dinner because I know everyone gets excited about eating with a view from the mountains. During the day places like Switzer Falls Trail, the Wisdome LA are great places to check out too.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve never really had a ton of options for mentors, but I think that my close friends and siblings have always been the people supporting me in my efforts to become a writer. They’ve always wished me well and lifted my spirits from rejection to rejection until I succeeded.