Introduction – The Life and Times of Abigail Waller

I mentioned this project in a previous post as one of the projects I’m currently developing, spurred on by the DOA performance of Lupus Moon and my mounting frustration with the spec route in general. I’m excited about what I have so far and the potential this project has.

Background on the Project

The Life and Times of Abigail Waller began as an idea for a TV show in August 2008. I’ve had a few TV concepts over the years, and like the rest, I’d jotted down the basic premise and shoved it in an overflowing zippered binder with countless other ideas and concepts. My first love being writing for movies, TV writing was something I never gave a lot of thought to – primarily because I didn’t know much about it. Writing a movie is simple in theory: sit down, write a 95 to 120-page story, promote it, rinse and repeat. Episodic writing was a whole ‘nother animal. I also knew the only way to succeed in it was to move to Hollywood, and I wasn’t ready, wanting or planning to do so. But I had some ideas, so I stashed them. Who knows? Might come in handy some day. Never say never.

The idea to do “Abby” as a web series came earlier this year, after attending an industry event where the creators of the web series Pink were on hand to talk about their series. Even before this event, I’d heard about people going the route of producing their own shows, but it just didn’t click with me. I was too busy working on one screenplay or another. But after listening to their story, I was intrigued by the possibilities, so much so that I started rummaging through my mental rolodex of ideas for something that could be turned into a series. “Abby” was one of the first concepts that came to mind.

I was hot on the concept for a while – even coming home and jotting down quick notes, episode and promotional ideas and filling out a character bio sheet on the protagonist. But then I got sucked back into whatever feature script I was working on at the time (probably Lupus Moon), and Abby languished on the coffee table in my office for months. But now, thanks to recent events, she’s front and center.

So What’s It About?

The Life and Times of Abigail Waller (or “Abby,” for intents and purposes) follows the adventures of a 31-year-old professional Black woman as she juggles work, family and relationships. I’m pitching the concept to people as “A Black Ally McBeal,” but I could use a number of shows to get the point across. Throughout the life of the show, there’s several topics I’d like to address, including women choosing bad men for relationships, the debate over natural versus permed hair (Abby will be natural, BTW), being a Black female in White male corporate America, dealing with messy and jealous “friends,” interracial dating, and self-image (“Oh, big lips are sexy ‘cause a white girl like Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson has them, but they weren’t when the sistas had them? Suddenly big butts are sexy because J. Lo and Kim Kardashian made them so? I guess the millions of sistas throughout history were invisible”).

The show will be classified as a dramedy, and it will be shot here in Houston. I’m aiming for 7 to 10-episode seasons, with five seasons planned, but I’d love to do more if I can keep the show fresh and entertaining. The first season’s episodes are planned out, along with several episodes in the following seasons. My target demographic is the very underserved group of Black women, age 22-50, and the working distribution schedule is one episode every two weeks, with vlog and blog entries from “Abby” in between – effectively doubling the length of the season while keeping the viewer engaged. To my knowledge it’s something that hasn’t been done, but there’s a ton of web series out there and many have GREAT ideas. I’ve also put together plans for promotion, funding and tie-in merchandise, so I’m looking to do big things with this series. It’s all a crap shoot – but at least it’s my crap shoot.

Last Looks

There’s a lot that needs to be done to get this project off the ground, but I’m enjoying each step of the process. If things go well, there’s another web series or two I’d like to launch. Who knows, maybe the episodic format I was leery of all along was the one I was supposed to follow – the one that finally winds up opening doors for me…

I guess we’ll see.


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