We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannan E. Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shannan E., why did you pursue a creative career?
I came out of the womb as a weirdo. An artist. A creative. And I thank my mother for allowing me to be just that. As an 8 year-old, my third grade teacher told me I should be a writer after reading my descriptive paragrah (turned one-pager) about a blade of grass. She could smell that blade of grass wafting from the words on the page. From that moment on, my heart was set on telling stories.
I wrote my first series of books, Champagne the Wonder Dog, in elementary school (I need to find and publish those by the way). But it wasn’t until I was a senior in college at Texas A&M University and receieved a magazine article about a black female TV writer that I knew I was meant to write for the screen. Before then, not having much exposure to screenwriting, I just assumed novels magically turned into movies. Naive, yes. But you don’t know what you don’t know.
Now, as a professional screenwriter, I create worlds and people for a living. My most current venture is telling Twee’ts Story. Tweet is a 25 year old tattoo artist trying to pay her tuition bill to graduate from community college and escape the dangers of human trafficking by selling truffle sauce. She’s a representation of the angry black woman trope as our emotions tend to present in anger when our traumas are unhealed. Hopefully by watching TRUFFLE SAUCE, a drama short, people will learn to give grace to black women and understand that behind that attitude lives a feeling of being unsafe and the need to control their environments due to that lack of safety.
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.
What excites me about being a creative is the long learning curve and the continued growth from the hustle and grind of making things happen. Being a creative goes hand in hand with being an entrepreneur. You become your own advocate and a walking talking brand. Being likable and reliable is just as important as the art you create. So when you hear that Hollywood is about who you know and not what you know, understand that like in any business, it equals relationship building.
With that said, making TRUFFLE SAUCE has been an exhilarating experience because of how much my own skills and knowledge have been challenged and sharpened. Making a film includes development (writing), production (shooting), post production (editing), marketing, press, social media, distribution (film festivals, etc.) and raising the funds to make all of the aforementioned happen. So, I’ve been forced to wear many hats during this process and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now that the film is in post production, I’m sitting in a chair that I’ve never occupied before. I have to be willing to humble myself and allow my creative team to lead in my areas of development. Hence, relationship building. Filmmaking is a collaborative process. Each team member has something beautiful and awesome to bring to the table that will make the project unique. As the executive producer, I have to trust in their crafts so that my project can soar. Can’t wait until we premiere TRUFFLE SAUCE in Houston in June 2022.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Anyone going to Houston should be eating. I have traveled to more than 19 countries and 48 of our great states. I’ve lived in FL, the DMV, NY and CA. Houston has the best food. It literally feeds your soul.
Some of the spots I have to go while in town:
Esther’s Cajun Cafe – Shoutout to the home team of Booker T. Washington graduates.
Boudreaux’s – It’s the $5 hurricanes for me.
Whataburger – If you’re new to the area and ready to change your life… I’m just saying… In & Out, where?
Tony’s Mexican – We ordered their catering during the production of TRUFFLE SAUCE. The customer service was fantastic.
The Funnel Bar – A funnel cake food truck – need I say more – run by my family friends.
Some places I’d like to check out the next time I’m there.
Rooftop Cinema – We’d actually love to get TRUFFLE SAUCE on their movie list this summer.
Selfie World – Gotta take a moment to do things for the gram. #datenight
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to The Mademoiselle Service & Social Club founded in 1960 at Booker T. Washington High School and the High School for the Engineering Professions. This organization not only taught me leadership and discipline but continues to pour into me through lifetime friendships and their work in the community. High school is such an important time in a young person’s life. My mentors – Bart Bertrand, Ruth Thornton and Eleanor Lee – helped mold me into a woman who knows herself, stands up for others, and continues to strive for greatness.
All TS pictures – Justin Blake