We had the opportunity to chat with Waves creator Shania Banton about the series, her writing process, and her future projects.
For anyone who hasn’t seen Waves yet can you give us a brief description?
WAVES is a drama series about sisters Nia and Jean trying to repair their relationship while Jean keeps a secret that can ruin her relationship with Nia forever.
What inspired you to create the series?
I have been writing and acting for about five years and once I stopped going to acting school, I wanted to make sure I kept my momentum. I started writing WAVES and then one spring I thought to myself “Why don’t I bring one of my screenplays to life?” so I started the pre production for WAVES. I wrote it, directed it, acted in it, and FUNDED the entire thing myself. This story is based on true life and my strong belief in blood is not always thicker than water. Season one was the base to what a real family drama is actually like and season 2 is going to switch it up. Now I want to make a note that I have great relationship with sister, lol.
We often see very shallow representations of relationships between black women in the media. Where does Waves see itself in the discourse on the relationship between black women?
I don’t usually play into generalizations when I’m writing, I don’t write what I don’t know and that goes for all my screenplays. I even wrote a whole article about writers writing from what they think versus what they know. My series is solely based on true life situations and real life relationships. Therefore, black women’s relationship in the show is based on what its like in real life. We have two best friends Jean and Shanel who are black women and they both own it and know it, and it doesn’t change their dynamic. A honest relationship between black women is just as normal as it is with any female relationship. I wouldn’t over dramatize attitudes amongst the two because stereotype, or create unnecessary drama between friends because of generalization. I am a black woman and I know the truth behind these relationships which is what makes my writing authentic.
Your series also touches on addiction. Why did you feel this was a topic to include in your story line?
Again, I pulled from real life. My character make up is from multiple people I know. So although Jean is the sister, if she was a “real” person she would be 20 of my friends, a cousin, an uncle, and four strangers. LOL. I understand addiction and I sympathize with it, and I feel as though no matter what you’re writing whether it be a comedy, drama, or sci-fi, if there is not at least one pressing matter that can draw light to a situation that is overlooked and criticized, then the voice isn’t being used. I don’t like to speak generally, we can all write what we want. BUT, if I’m going to do a series, A WHOLE SERIES, I’m for sure going to include some pressing matters, and try to represent as many situations and circumstances. Isn’t that what makes a good show, being able to get more than one type of person to relate?
What was your biggest obstacle creating this series and how did you get over it?
Writing, directing, funding, acting throughout this entire series made it difficult. I’m one person. So every week there was an obstacle, we had some days that were 16 hours long, and then I would have to return to my full-time job in the morning. Hard is an understatement. The biggest obstacle for me however wasn’t even the production it was post-production. Getting the editing done while being in school full-time and working full-time. But by the grace of God at the beginning of 2018 I got the biggest blessing of my life; I got enough
time to finish my series, release it, and watch the blessings flow in from there. I don’t want to sound cheesy at all, but I’m big on the idea that the universe has powers and everything happens for a reason. So, when I found myself running behind on editing and not being able to release it by my deadlines, I did a lot of meditations and praying and the unexpected happen. That’s how I got over the obstacle of time, through belief and faith in what’s meant to be will happen.
How do you think the Black community can increase diversity in media?
WE NEED TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER. Thats the only sentence I really think is necessary but I’ll give you more to work with. We as people of color need to remember, we got our own back. No one is going to look out for us the same way we look out for us. So, if we support each other as heavy as we support certain companies that don’t do anything for our community we would all be better off. Im not just speaking to the consumer or the watcher audience, I’m also addressing the creators. Creators need to ensure that we provide
things that our people can get behind, understanding professionalism no matter the notoriety of the person, remembering quality over quantity will always win, stop keeping us in a box and writing your characters of color as stereotypes because it sells, represent the power in us instead of the downfalls.
What upcoming projects do you have in the works?
Ever since WAVES released its now streaming on 4 platforms, Kweli TV, Afroland TV, Brainwash Media and Youtube. It’s featured in a Spike Lee documentary for Uber called ‘The republic of Brooklyn- Sunny’ and I’ve started writing season 2. But that’s not all for me as a creator, I have a pilot I’m pitching to networks currently. I have a short documentary releasing on August 3rd, I’m in pre-production for a short film that I’ll be submitting to festivals once completed. I’m never done. This year I graduated. Now that there’s no more school all there is for me to do is keep working on projects until I get a budget for a feature film or casted in an award-winning series. LOL. I am speaking it into existence.