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Playwright Jason Odell Williams Shares The Difficulty Of Writing For The Screen On WHY I'LL NEVER MAKE IT Podcast

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Jason Odell is an award-winning playwright and Emmy-nominated TV producer.

Playwright Jason Odell Williams Shares The Difficulty Of Writing For The Screen On WHY I'LL NEVER MAKE IT Podcast

Award-winning playwright and Emmy-nominated TV producer Jason Odell Williams (Church & State, Brain Games) reunites with actor and host Patrick Oliver Jones to give the ins and outs of writing for the stage as well as shares how he's handled being out of work in television and having no theaters to write for.

He says it's been a mixed bag of productive days and then wanting to do nothing but sit around and binge on Netflix. "I was depressed for a couple of days [once the shutdown happened], and I'd never felt that feeling." Just trying to find focused and distraction-free time has been difficult. And what writing he is doing is affected by the times we live in.

A political-themed play Williams started working on before the pandemic has had to have revisions in light of COVID, addressing the state of affairs and this new normal we're all dealing with. "It feels unavoidable," he says. "You gotta talk about it at some point."

However, he wasn't always on track to be a writer. He studied acting at the famed Actors Studio in midtown Manhattan with hopes of making it big here. But he realized that despite the adulation and thrill of opening nights and sold-out runs, acting didn't fulfill him. He wanted more creatively, and he wanted more control over his career.

"I don't like being at the mercy of casting directors." And thus began Williams' push to write and create his own works with the help of his wife, fellow actor and producer Charlotte Cohn. The two of them went on to produce his first Off-Broadway play, Handle With Care, a New York Times Critics' Pick starring Carol Lawrence. His second was Church & State, a Huffington Post Top Ten Theatre Production in 2016, and featured Jones in the cast.

Williams' writing skills have led him into TV shows as well like Brain Games and Homocide Hunter, where he has a knack for presenting stories and information in a conversational, easy-to-understand format. But bringing Church & State to the big screen has been a tougher process, taking what was meant for the stage and putting it into another medium, one that relies on the visual more than the words. It's a process that requires constant rewrites and feedback. But that's the job of a writer -- to write and rewrite till you get it right. And Williams wouldn't have it any other way.

Listen to the episode below!

Why I'll Never Make It is a weekly theater podcast hosted by actor Patrick Oliver Jones and features conversations with fellow creatives about the realities of a career in the arts. Past guests include Off-Broadway composer Jeff Thomson (Mad Libs Live!), Off-Broadway actress Erin Cronican (Dutchman, Sistas The Musical), and FringeNYC award-winner Remy Germinario (Bradley Cole). Find these episodes and more at whyillnevermakeit.com.


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