Vixen Initiation: Alaina Lewis Talks Screenwriting and Her Moment of Inspiration
To say Clutch Magazine’s former Senior Editor Alaina Lewis is on the move is an understatement—her pace is more like a gallop. Since leaving Clutch to focus her efforts on her own PR company, Electric Heart Media, Lewis has carved out a unique niche by combining her talents as a journalist and a media producer.
Not only does Lewis generate press for her clients, the talented CEO also offers a wide range of hard-to-come-by services like video production, website development and photography. As a result, the client roster for EHM is already robust: prestigious events (Cannes Festival, American Black Film Festival, Miss Black Minnesota Pageant), international restaurants (London-based Pizza Fresha), as well as up-and-coming celebrities (teen rap sensation Young Marqus and NBA-hopeful Marcus Hill).
Lewis prides herself on providing her clients with personal attention. She’s even traveled with Young Marqus on his recent 12-city tour while simultaneously shooting footage and arranging exclusive backstage interviews.
Vixen caught up with the writer-slash-director-slash-producer just days before she was about to jet off on a promotional trip to Mexico and Hawaii for Young Marqus and Jacob Latimore. Excited about her successes, Lewis was eager to talk about screenwriting, her moment of inspiration and sneaking in through the back window.
A lot of us have dreams but never live them. What pushed you?
I was a postal carrier for five years. I was also pursuing my degree in screenwriting and working with Clutch. I wanted to finish my last class and I couldn’t take the time off, so I quit. This is what I’m supposed to do.
Wow, just like that?
If you do it at home for yourself, it’s a hobby. But if you do it for the world, it’s a business. So, I have to go all in.
How was year one?
2012 was great! I have been on a five-year plan--this is my fourth year. Every single year I can say I have added another layer to what I do and really pushed to manifest my dream. I am absolutely floored to look at where I was then and where I am now.
What about that film degree?
[Laughs] I’m using my film degree! I shoot a lot with my clients. I created all the behind-the-scenes footage for Young Marcus for the web series “Life on the Road w/Young Marqus” and shot some footage for a [yet-to-be revealed] reality show.
My goal and dream in life is to be a screenwriter. With the exception of Ava Duvernay and Shonda Rhimes [Scandal], we don’t have a lot of heroes who have a household name like [Steven] Spielberg and James Cameron.
I want to have a name in the industry as someone who creates diverse works--that aren’t necessarily Black works. I’m laying my tracks out now so that when I actually do board my train, I have a way to get there. I’m not looking to be the next Tyler Perry. I want to be the first Alaina Lewis.
When did you realize you wanted to be a screenwriter?
Well when I was a kid, I was awkward. I was shy, so I’d create characters. I would do it in the sense that I knew I was too awkward to live the life, so I tried to become the characters. Then, I met [Mighty Ducks creator] Steve Brill in downtown Minneapolis. I almost passed out. He told me if I wanted, I could be in the movie. So, I was in MD3 in the scene at the Mall of America. While they were glorifying all the actors, I was watching him make a movie. I saw someone putting a movie together and I had never seen that in my life. It was that day I made the transition from wanting to write novels to being a screenwriter.
How does that tie in to what you’re doing now?
This is my way of showing the world this what I do, but it's not all that I do. I recently sold a script. And, I’m working on my big feature, called Assassin’s Avenue. It’s a Precious meets Hustle and Flow. It’s about a 14-year-old boy whose mom is addicted to heroin. His only salvation is hip-hop. His goal is not to become a rapper, not make a million dollars, it’s just to get to high school. It’s such a pure goal. Just to be able to be educated and have an opportunity to have an education and promise. And, there are things in his life making that seemingly simple desire seem unattainable.
Words to live by?
My mantra has always been I’d rather have you underestimate me than see me coming. If you are not going to let me in through the front door, I am going to come in through the back window.
New Year’s Resolution?
My New Year’s resolution is to have an amazing year. Believe it and then you will see it.
For more on Alaina Lewis and her company, visit electricheartmedia.com and press play for her 2012 highlight reel below.