In this exclusive interview you can learn more about , Shanice Soze” the creator of the family comedy web series “All That Shabaz“.
About the web series creator: Shanice started writing plays in elementary; her first play was about a little girl who facing harsh adversity. She continued to write throughout my school days, wowing my English teachers with my creativity and natural storytelling ability, which I attribute to many hours spent watching television as a youngster.
Shanice’s love of story was born by reading novels. Taking in all these aspects of storytelling, she was bound to create my own alternate universe at some point. Her dream was realized in 2014 with the production of “Waiting Room”, her first short film. The film has been selected to screen at several film festivals, including, International Black Women’s Film Festival, Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival and won Best Film award at a local Metro Atlanta film festival in 2015.
Charging back to her sitcom-loving roots, she created, wrote, produced, and occasionally directed her first comedy web series, “All That Shabaz”.
In July 2016, her episodic project, “Waiting Room”, based on my award-winning short film, advanced to the second round of Sundance Institute’s YouTube New Voices Lab.
1) Please give us a brief description about “All That Shabaz”?
All That Shabaz follows the life of Malik Shabaz Muhammad Muhammad, an Army vet and History teacher recently fired from his job at an Atlanta alternative school. He’s also recently lost his home, and moves back in with his ex-wife, Leah, their two sons, Wil and Malcolm, and her new husband, Josh. Of course, this is a temporary move until Melodie, Josh’s daughter with his very own ex-wife, makes a permanent move to the house.
2) What inspired you to create the series?
I love to laugh. I am the silliest person I’ve ever met. My favorite show of all time is Martin, and I wanted to pay homage to that type of humor. My ex-husband is somewhat militant, and he helped create the character of Shabaz for a workshop project. Later, I took a sitcom writing class and decided to develop a show around Shabaz’s crazy persona. I thought it’d be great to put him in a blended family environment, and, since I love cultural humor, I thought it was absolutely necessary to throw some diversity in there.
3) The series is a comedy but it really touches on some serious issues like race relations, and divorce. What made you focus on these topics?
I have issues. Ha! I haven’t yet figured out as a writer, how to not write stories without trying to heal what’s ailing our world. I think laughter is a great place to start. I was very nervous about some of the jokes, and Josh being so passive with Shabaz, but I spoke to our Caucasian cast members very often about whether or not they were comfortable with the scripts. They all loved the scripts, so we went for it.
4) What is the biggest obstacle you had creating the series?
Money. My husband and I paid for every single aspect of this show out of our own pockets. Every actor was paid, and every crew member was paid. We made sure our cast and crew were fed well, too.
5)How did you start your career in the entertainment industry?
I started with a workshop-style program in Atlanta and met a few amazing writers and producers. Though the program was unsuccessful for me, I kept in touch with some of the folks I met, and wrote, directed and produced a short film about abortion in 2014. From there, I just kept writing, and decided to produce All That Shabaz.
6) What tips would you provide to aspiring media makers?
Thoroughly research folks you want to work with before you embark on a project, study your craft. If it’s not in the cards for you to go to school to study, search the internet for information, go get some books, watch lots of film and television.
7) How do you think we as a community could increase diversity in media?
Don’t settle. Sure, we’re seeing several leading ladies of color on primetime television, and we’re enjoying a few African-American-centered shows. Let’s continue to support these shows, but we need to get into the room where the greenlighting is going on. We need to get into the studio executive positions, and I think we’re on a great path with so many smaller production companies putting out great work. But, let’s not drop the ball.
8) What’s next for you and the Soze Studios team?
We’ve got several projects we’re juggling right now, including Season 2 of All That Shabaz. We are trying to decide which one to begin next. Not a bad position to be in.
Visit Soze Studios Websites: http://www.sozestudios.com/all-that-shabaz.html