Many entertainment gurus have called the current times the “Golden Age of Television,” but while exceptional writing and acting are dominating the small screen, viewers searching for great content are also turning their attention to an even smaller screen.
The Internet has opened the door for independent minded creators to produce work on their own merits and present stories that have traditionally been ignored by Hollywood. Industry veterans Meagan Good (Waist Deep, Stomp The Yard) and Tamara Bass (Baby Boy, Boston Public) are among the filmmakers embracing cyberspace as the next realm for their for artistic ventures.
Good and Bass joined forces to launch Krazy Actress Productions, and the team’s debut project is the new web series All That Matters. The drama follows a recently engaged couple’s journey after an unexpected turn takes place in their lives.
All That Matters was developed by Bass. Good fell in love with Bass’ script, and the longtime friends decided to co-direct the project - a feat rarely attempted by African-American women. As the duo set to create narratives both directors were passionate about, one partner’s strength counterbalanced the other’s weakness.
Bass also stars in the lead role of Joy alongside Tracey Dukes (Kevin) and Josiah Smith (Kayla). WorldStarHipHop founder Lee "Q" O'Denat and Shade 45 host Sway Calloway serve as executive producers for All That Matters. The 5-episode presentation will stream on WorldStarHipHop.com.
AllHipHop.com spoke with Tamara Bass and Meagan Good about their first foray into creating content for the Information Superhighway. The ladies behind All That Matters address using the series to display positive images of African-American life and to provide a window into the challenges families face everyday.
How did you first meet and what led you to start a production company together?
Meagan: Tamara and I started auditioning with each other when we were teenagers. She moved to California to pursue her career of being an actress. I lived in California. We would see each other, and we bonded on auditions which is very rare in this business. Often times, you’re told the other person’s your competition, but we immediately hit it off.
One day I went home with her, and from there, history was set on its course. We became - not just best friends - but sisters. As we got older, we both wanted to create.
She’s an incredible writer. We talked about the kind of projects we wanted to do and the kind of things we wanted to put in the universe. Also, we talked about the kind of roles we would like to see Black women have an opportunity at and the ways we would like to see Black men portrayed in the world.
How was the transition going from being in front of the camera to behind the camera?
Tamara: I can honestly say directing yourself is extremely difficult. There’s so many things that you don’t always think about, but I’m someone who strives on the difficulties in life. If it’s too easy for me, it’s not as rewarding. I like things that make me step outside of my comfort zone.
That aspect of the transition, while it was a little strange, was very fluid. It felt very natural. It felt very organic in the process. It just seemed like the natural evolution. I’ve always been multi-faceted. I’ve always been someone that liked acting, directing, and writing. I just wasn’t always confident to put it out there to the world completely.
Then one day I said, “What do I have to fear? What’s the worse that can happen? If it doesn’t work out, I can still try.” And to do that transition in the comfort of this friendship made it even easier. Because I have her as my partner, it felt seamless.
The story that plays out in All That Matters touches on several family dynamics. Why did you choose to tackle those particular themes?
Meagan: Initially, the thought process was you don’t get to see the girl next door’s story. It’s usually the love interest, the victim, or if there is a character that isn’t one of those two then she’s usually not the lead. When you look at women across the world, we come in different shapes, different sizes, different walks of life, different mindsets, different perspectives.
I think exploring this side of the story is really more interesting than a lot of the ones that were projected on screen. Seeing the truths, the vulnerabilities, and the complications of life - it’s a lot more interesting to tell a real story from a woman’s perspective.
As it pertains to men, it’s showing them in a different light. A lot of times when you see a Black man on camera, he’s either the cheater, the guy who left his kid, or the guy who’s all about his money. So for us, it was let’s tell the other side of the story that is less seen, but in actuality is more of the truth of who we are as people. Everybody can relate to it, because it’s your brother, your sister, your cousin, your mother, your daughter.
Tamara: We were just playing with the idea of your plans being derailed. We all as human beings have these plans in our lives. My plan was going to be graduate high school, graduate college, and move to Los Angeles. My career was going to go in this linear trajectory, and then never look back.
Well, life threw me curveballs and a different set of circumstances. Where I thought I was going to go from A to B to C, life said, “No, I’m going to take you from A to J then back to A again.” In my everyday conversations with my sisters and friends, we always talk about what happens when you have to deal with those curveballs.
I wanted to play with that in different arenas. So I threw in a kid - a definite curveball. What does your life look like now? You’re thinking, “I got engaged. I’m planning weddings,” and life says, “Ha, ha. Now you have a five-year-old.’” How do you deal with that? I wanted a creative way to answer those questions.
Why did you decide to pursue this story as a web series as opposed to a TV show or a film?
Tamara: For a web series, we got to have a very contained environment. We have control of the narrative. We don’t have to answer to a studio, a network, executives, or everybody and their grandmother having an opinion.
Outside of independent films, when you do any kind of film in Hollywood you have 20-30 people to answer to who all have an opinion. That’s not the world that America wants to see.
With web series and with this platform, you have more control over the narrative. We get to tell the story that we wanted to tell. And it’s creative. It’s a way to get it out quickly. It’s a way to get around the red tape.
If it does eventually transfer to TV, at least we got to own the narrative for however long it lived in this space. It gives us a track record, so if our next project goes to TV, we now have a way to say, “Hey, if you guys step back and let us do our job, this is what we can create.” It gives us a little bit more leverage going into the future.
WorldStar has its supporters, but it also has its critics. That criticism mostly stems from some of the violent and sexual content posted on the site. Were you ever concerned about the negative imagery that’s sometimes associated with WorldStar being connected to your brand?
Meagan: For us, it was instead of complaining about the negative imagery let’s change it. Let’s be on the forefront of creating something different. Initially, when Tam and I put this together it was “Okay, we’re putting this together. We’re going to put it out.”
At the time Q and I were in conversation about doing something potentially different that Tam and I was going to get on. He expressed wanting to change some of the content that was on WorldStar, wanting to go in a more positive direction. Also, he wanted to create more original content. We met with him and told him we do have some original content that might be a good fit for that particular audience and demographic.
We know there are a lot of people that are skeptical and say there are a lot of negative things there, but for us it wasn’t about complaining about it or judging it. It was about being on the frontline of changing it. Let’s put something else on there that’s different for people to look at. It was an opportunity to go into a very active space where people are paying attention, and bring them another option of something to watch.
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Watch episode one of All That Matters below.