SHE WORKS: How Kimberly Walker’s Very 1st Screenplay Stars Loretta Devine, Tatyana Ali & More

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Kimberly Walker, a beauty guru-turned-filmmaker penned “Comeback Dad,” a new film about a woman, Nima Babineaux (Tatyana Ali) who has it all – she is an accomplished pianist who runs her own music school and is engaged to Spence (Brad James), a successful engineer who adores her. She has never recovered from her alcoholic father, Othell (Charles Dutton), walking out on their family and it has made it hard for her to truly trust anyone. When Othell decides it is time to make amends and tries to reenter her life, Nima begins an emotional and eye-opening journey she could have never expected. Loretta Devine stars as Malinda, Othell’s sister. The ensemble cast also includes Donna Brisco, Elizabeth Omilami, Ja’El Robertson, Takara Clark, E. Roger Mitchell, Todd Anthony and Palmer Williams, Jr.

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Walker is a newcomer who has spent the last five years quietly writing film and TV content, while working as the go-to beauty insider for EBONY.com, Uptown, Upscale, BET.com and brands like Elasta QP and curlBOX. Walker was the Honorable Mention Winner in last year’s UP Faith & Family Screenplay Competition at American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and “Comeback Dad” was fast-tracked in less than six months.  “I didn’t win the competition but the network optioned the script. I honestly didn’t think that they would actually make the film. I got called in to meet with the senior vice president of programming in December and we began production in the spring. I was shocked!” says Walker.

“To have such an amazing cast for my first film is mind-blowing. As a screenwriter, you always dream about the amazing cast that will bring your words to life, but I never thought I’d be on set with Charles S. Dutton and Loretta Devine.” 

Comeback Dad airs on UPtv on July 12th, 2014 at 8pm EST. Get to know Kimberly Walker:

Title: Screenwriter/ Creative Content Specialist
Education: B.A. in English with concentration in Creative Writing, Film and African-American Culture from Michigan State University
Previous Job Experience :
Contributing beauty expert for EBONY.com
Beauty editor of BET.com
Freelancer writer for Uptown, Upscale, honeymag.com and WhoWhatWear.com.
Digital video content creator for beauty brandsProducer of curlBOX TV

HelloBeautiful: Briefly describe your day to day activities and responsibilities as a filmmaker.

Kimberly Walker: Write. Write. WRITE! As a screenwriter, I spend about five hours everyday writing or conceptualizing. The one thing people don’t realize is the time filmmakers spending thinking. You literally block out time to think about your script or project. How will I develop these characters? How will act three end? When I’m producing a project, I am the writer, director, producer and the publicist. I schedule the shoot, manage the crew and the cast, think through the post marketing plan and oversee every small and big detail, including when and what we’ll eat.

HB: Briefly describe what prompted your interest in beauty and your interest in filmmaking.

KW: I’ve always had two distinct loves–film and beauty. I’m obsessive over both and they developed at a young age. When I was in the fourth grade, I begged my mother to take me to see “The Five Heartbeats,” the very Rated R flick that was playing at the time. She obliged and, though she covered my eyes during the sex scenes, the magnificence of storytelling still seeped in. I knew I had to make people feel the way that film made me feel.

As for beauty, my mother helped with that. She had huge cases of makeup and a vanity full of products that I sniffed, sprayed and smeared on every chance I got. I was initially consumed by this world of things that could “improve” who you are. I have always been intrigued by anything that I believe will make me better. I tore through magazines, read up on natural cures, started making products in my teens and I’ve kept with it ever since.

HB: What suggestions regarding networking would you give to those seeking to get into film?

KW: Start somewhere, even if it’s at the bottom. I started out as a P.A. (production assistant) on small sets. I was also a development intern for Rainforest Films. My job was to comb through scripts and recommend a few. Find other filmmakers in your vicinity and befriend them. Help them with their projects. I won’t lie, yes, you have to have talent, but you also have to have a trusted community to call upon. Don’t be mysterious. Strive to know people who can get you work.

HB: What are the major challenges in your role as a filmmaker and what solutions have you deemed best to handle these challenges?

KW: With filmmaking, there are tons of things that can go wrong. On my latest project with UPtv, “Comeback Dad,” some of the people in power switched midway through the rewrite process. Well, when that happens, the previous ideas disappear. The script that I’d already finished 15 drafts on had to be rewritten with new notes. It can be frustrating, but my advice to new screenwriters is to trust the process and learn. Fight for your story, but don’t be a diva. Learn how to creatively maintain your story while incorporating the thoughts of others. If you’re easy to work with, people will always call you. You will always get a check.

HB: What would you contribute your level of success to?

KW: Three things: consistency, creativity and attitude. Remaining consistent while your amazing scripts continue to pile up in your living room can be tough, but you have no other choice. Keep pushing. Keep writing. Keep fine-tuning. I often tell writers to find inspiration. Don’t wait for it to hit you. Staying creative means that you’re always diving into ideas, films, TV or art that you believe is higher than your level of thinking. It keeps you sharp and forces you to continually create. As for attitude, don’t be a jerk. Be memorable and ready to work. Making a film takes a literal village and you don’t want to piss off that village.

HB: Any advice for those who want to switch careers?

KW: I’m not a believer of being a starving artist. I am not the girl who slept on someone’s couch. I worked many freelance jobs along with working on my art. Taking classes requires money. Making a short film requires money. Submitting to a film festival requires money. You will need money at some point to fund your dream. My advice is to keep your day job until your dream job becomes at least a little profitable. Equally work on both your dream job and your day job. You will be tired and you will get little rest, but it’s worth it. I work pretty much all day long and I absolutely love what I do on both sides.
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