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Where Genre Has No Limits: Spotlight on Screenwriter Delé Adams

Screenwriter Delé Adams shares with Script his favorite genres to write in, what inspired him to become a screenwriter and the importance of not shying away from feedback.
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In this series, we will talk to up-and-coming Screenwriters, find out their writing process, what projects they are currently working on, and get some tips of the trade.

Born in the UK and raised in the Caribbean Isle of St. Kitts, Delé Adams leans on his love of Afro-Caribbean myth and mystery in his writing. A lifelong fan of storytelling, Delé yearns to tell stories bigger than the land he hails from.

What is your favorite genre to write?

You know, I was going to say horror, since most of what I write is in that wheelhouse, but honestly, I’ve only done it a few times; but comedy is where my voice lives. It’s how I speak to family and friends, so it’s a breeze to write. It feels natural, you know?

Delé Adams

Delé Adams

What story, film, or novel has left an indelible impact on you as a writer?

Oooh, baby, The Matrix was the film that was the proverbial kick in the pants, way back in 1999 (dating myself here, I know) but I ignored the call on account of, well, life. But one day I had it on as background sound as I was cleaning the house and this quiet, persistent voice in my head was saying, 'Dude, like, you should like, make movies like this.' I went out and ordered my first computer and started knocking out really bad scripts in Notepad. I had a lot of grandiose ideas and wanted to see them come to life. The mind-blowing visuals that surrounded this chosen journey was exactly what I needed to figure out my life.

If you could give any tips to an upcoming writer, what tips would you provide?

Do your best to avoid Screenwriter Twitter discourse about sluglines! No, but seriously, I still consider myself a fledgling writer, so I would suggest that getting in with a group of writers who are willing to read and be read, is the best thing you can do to grow. Don’t shy away from critique and learn to not to take notes personally. If you get stuck, leave that script alone for a week, maybe two. The story will break organically if you give your noggin' a break.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I had dabbled since ’99, but didn’t get serious until the TRAVESTY that was the Sleepy Hollow episode "This Red Lady from Caribee”, which featured a soucouyant. Seeing a Caribbean mythical creature rendered so completely wrong awoke my inner petty and I saw red and black and white as I knocked out my answer, a pilot script for a show I call A.N.A.N.Si.

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What current show or movie do you wish you were in the writer's room?

A man would maim to be in the writers’ room for the Amazon adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys. As a West Indian who grew up on Anansi stories, I have a deep and emotional connection to this character who represents the amazing power of the narrative craft.

Tell us about your current WIP and favorite character and why?

My current WIP is a half-hour comedy called Message to the Front, set in a busted hotel in the Caribbean. It follows the hapless and helpful Gabe as he tries to manage guest expectations and the shenanigans they bring, all while his superiors run amuck. Even though he is the main character, I love writing his responses to the ridiculousness of the hotel situations; probably because so much of his story reflects my own time working the hotel circuit in St. Kitts back in the day. He says things I wish I had said back then.

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If you had the chance to recreate an IP, what would it be and what would your spin on it be?

I’ve already spoken about an issue I had with Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, so I would love to have the chance to course-correct that narrative. I certainly would do a massive overhaul where Abbie’s story was concerned. They did her so damn dirty. Take her out of the nonsense of purgatory and get her and Ichabod’s wonderful dynamic back on track. Delve into the lore of the Witnesses and their importance in preventing the Apocolypse. There were so many other places they could have gone to that just went …nowhere. OK, clearly I have a bone to pick with that show. 

What keeps you motivated as a writer?

A huge motivation these last two panoramic years has been the table reads organized by Kelly Krause and the writer group organized by Mo Moshaty. These two incredible women have, between these spaces, kept me sane, and hearing your words in professional actors’ mouths is a joy unlike any other. Having them react in real-time to the nonsense I’ve put on the page is just incredible. With any luck, I’ll get to see them being recorded on set and finally on a tv screen.

What would you consider your "brand" as a writer?

My brand? My wife would tell you my brand is eyeball-rolling dad jokes and punchy dialogue. I don’t disagree with her opinion [laughs]. I would say for my part that I swing between the horrific and the ludicrous; between them, I find the emotional connective tissue.

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What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?

I don’t really think about what I want my legacy to be. I feel as though that’s a rabbit hole and one ends up daydreaming more than writing. I think that ultimately, I want what all screenwriters want: to see our names on the credits of a show or film that people see and feel emotionally engaged and connected to. If I can do that to just one person to make them feel seen and heard? That’s legacy enough for this island boy.

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What's up next for you?

In my fantasy, it’s sitting with my wife and kids at the Emmys. In reality, it’s all about writing pilots that will hopefully slide across the desk of an agent who wants to rep a West Indian writer with a penchant for corny puns. 


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