Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Ta’shja Turner

Chicago Screenplay Awards Questionnaire

By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Ta’shja Turner (or Tay) and I’m from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Besides being a huge television/film lover – I’m a sneaker head, tea aficionado, pop culture junkie, and a proud Dog mama.

Where and when did you come up with the idea for your screenplay?

I came up with the idea in College. I had an assignment to create anything I wanted and I decided to make a College Survival Guide. It was originally a book and I used my own advice and advice from peers to create it. I did enough to turn it in but, never looked back at it. Then, the 2020 Pandemic happened and it was my first year out of College. Life was not going the way I planned it and I had some hard days. I found solace in writing and when I revisited my old homework assignment, I added situations friends and I were going through. It into a screenplay about being a 20 Something trying to figure it out. I wrote an entire season!

Can you take us through your screenwriting process?

My process is honestly a mess, I do not recommend it. Once I have the scenes and dialogue in my head, I’ll either write them down in a notebook or in my notes app, I’ll then go to my computer and sloppily write the script in Pages, THEN I’ll get it into my screenwriting software.

Once all of that is done, I’m constantly re-reading and revising.

What made you want to become a screenwriter?

I’ve always enjoyed writing. Even in grade school, essays and short stories never bothered me. I took Theatre in grade school as well. I remember my Theatre Teacher told me I could be a screenwriter one day. Of course, I brushed it off and tried other things, but, I eventually realized it’s something I really have a passion for.

Who are your biggest filmmaking influences?

John Singleton, F. Gary Gray, & Gina Prince Bythewood, to name a few.

Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one?

So many it’s not even funny. However; “Broad City” is one of my favorite shows, I rewatch it all the time. Some of favorite films are “Grease” (first one, only), “Goodfellas”, and “Dreamgirls”. I can also watch those any day, any time — I will forever be obsessed.

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history?

Again, there are so many! If I had to choose… I’d say when Bobby Boucher won the Bourbon Bowl and was awarded MVP. Him yelling ‘I Love Mama!’ just brings me to tears, haha!

Who’s your favorite character in cinema history?

Beatrix Kiddo, for obvious reasons.

If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Marliyn Monroe. I need to know how she got her blonde hair dye to stick. I went blonde a few times and it was cute; but, my natural hair color kept fighting it so it became ombre-ish. Could be because I didn’t do it correctly or because I’m Black.



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