Actress-Playwright Dominique Morisseau Advice to Writers and Other Creatives

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Dominique Morisseau actress
Award-winning playwright and actress Dominique Morisseau may seem like one of those professionals whose success was handed to them on a silver-rimmed gold platter. The truth is that the University of Michigan BFA graduate has been at it for quite some time. She’s been honored for her creative labors with prestigious prizes like the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, and even two NAACP Image Awards, and not to mention the John F. Kennedy Prize for one of her plays. Film is in the future, for sure. After all, theatre and film are the dearest of cuzzos. If the intensity present in her plays Sunset Baby, Follow Me To Nellie’s, and Blood At The Root are some indication, then her future features for the big screen are bound to be more complex than the films we’re used to.

Kreyolicious: When you’re writing a play, what do you do when you get stuck, whether what direction the plot should take…or how the character should be developed?

I go back to my outline. Rarely will I start a play these days without some outline or story structure that I’ve written out. It helps me not get stuck in the play. But occasionally when I do write blindly (with no outline) and I get stuck, I stop and think about where I want the story to go. I may begin an outline from that point forward so that I can see the finish line. It’s hard to write without visualizing the finish line. Once I know where I’m trying to go, I can always find the words to get myself there. Knowing where I’m going is the hardest thing to figure out and the most necessary.
Dominique Morisseau

Kreyolicious: If you could recommend three books to the creatives out there, what would you recommend? And what effect have these books had on you?

I’d recommend four: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, The Street by Ann Petry, Native Son by Richard Wright [and] Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat.

Kreyolicious: What effect have these books had on you?

Each of these books opened up my senses, made me laugh and cry, charged me to wrestle with my social and racial politics, and asked me to look deeper into my own soul. Loved them all.

Kreyolicious: What would you say to someone who wants to be a film director or a playwright?

Find a mentor who can help you measure your steps and who can help you strengthen your voice as an artist. We can’t do any of this alone, so find someone who you admire—several people, actually—and look at their work. Try to decipher what about it excites you. And then, seek their guidance so that you have resources to build your art. But first and foremost, exercise your craft whenever you can. Write. Write. Write. Direct, direct, direct. Whenever. However. Just do it.
Dominique Morisseau

Kreyolicious: Anyone observing your career can see that you’re on the brink of making the transition from stage to screen.

I’m expanding, for sure, and adding the screen into my repertoire. I deeply respect television and filmmaking these days. However, I’ll never be fully finished with the stage. Just expanding. Not replacing. I will love and practice theatre forever!

Kreyolicious: Where do you see yourself…say five years from now—career-wise?

Doing more of what I do now but better and more efficiently. I’m still growing as an artist. I plan on having a long career in Theatre, TV and Film. I want to write more about Detroit, Haiti, NYC, and other places that I’ve been or that resonate with me. As a filmmaker, I’m only just beginning. So in five years, I see myself with a completed film and perhaps my own TV series. That’s the plan. Let’s see what happens.



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