Fangirlin' Women In Film

Go on and take my Black card, ‘Waiting to Exhale’ sucked!

waiting to exhale film review | onicia muller comedy chicago

I finally watched Waiting to Exhale. Controversial thoughts in 3…2…1…That film was some Tyler Perry-levels of overly dramatic and corny shenanigans. Forest, I didn’t know you had it in you.

Everything Angela Bassette’s character did would land you court-ordered domestic violence classes and probably even lose your kids — the very thing she was fighting for.

I bet Wesley Snipes ain’t even had no white wife with cancer. His entire back story was some master-level pickup artist ish.

If Angela Bassette was so good at business, why she didn’t sell her house, downsize and start her own venture? Since she helped to create such a successful company, she could do like rich white kids and “bootstrap.” Beloved, the boots already strapped; just leverage your network, net worth, and other resources.

Lela Rochon was sleeping with 3 men at the same time and still managed to get dickmatized??? That’s the opposite of what’s supposed to happen!

After watching Waiting to Exhale, searched “Whitney Houston crack timeline”. Thanks, MTV. 🙁 I wonder if they gave Whitney that dialog as a way to drop some hints. The movie was so bad that I’m not reading to book to find out.

Are moms really out here telling their children to date married people who won’t leave their spouses? With such scallywag life advice, it’s no wonder Whitney Houston’s character’s mom only had $67 in her bank account. Foolish. #WaitingToExhale.

I no complaints about Loretta Devine’s character — except her man wasn’t cute and general homophobic attitude. Considering the lack of character all the cute dudes had, I’ll take a homely handyman any day. #WaitingToExhale

I can’t believe I waited almost 25 years to watch Waiting to Exhale — is this the iconic film that had so many black women empowered and ready to leave their ain’t ish men??? Well, the film is trash, but the tunes still slam.

It took me until 2020 to watch Waiting to Exhale because all I remember was my mother telling me that I’m too young for such subject matter. Somehow even at 13+ I told myself that I was too young. Woosh, talk about being obedient.

Did y’all know that Forest Whitaker directed Waiting to Exhale? Yup, The Last King of Scottland was serving cinematic Tyler Perry realness before Tyler Perry was real. Perry probably saw how y’all supported the film and said “I can do that”

So yeah, give me my Black card for finally watching Waiting to Exhale. Now revoke it because I hate it.

Fangirlin' Women In Film

‘The Haven’ using Web Series to Launch Chicago TV Pilot – Women in Film

The Haven written by Mia McCullough. Tasha Crystal
The Haven written by Mia McCullough features Sage Lorinne Miskel as Tasha (daughter) and Alex Dauphin as Crystal (mother)

What do you do when you have an original TV pilot that explores a world and characters different from traditional Hollywood scripts? You do like Mia McCullough and Elizabeth Laidlaw and create a web series!

THE HAVEN is a web series covering an extensive period in the lives of the clients and staff of a domestic violence center. The staff forms the main cast. The clients are secondary characters. 

Web series is a great storytelling tool for exploring characters and worlds. Compared to a TV show, these short format made-for-the-web productions often require fewer resources to produce. These scripts, which are usually under 30 minutes/pages, allow screenwriters to tell stories by and about underrepresented communities. Best of all, the finished content is immediately available to that community — #RepresentationMatters. 

Mia and co-producer Elizabeth Laidlaw knew that if developed and produced in the traditional Hollywood/LA-focused system, the project would likely evolve into something totally different from the original pilot. More importantly, the creative duo was unlikely to realize their dream of making an hour-long drama that’s shot and written in Chicago.

All sorts of insane things happen at this fictional center for victims of abuse. The web dramedy (drama + comedy) covers domestic violence, drug abuse, and — depending on who you ask — supernatural beings. 
Mia worked for a domestic crisis line on and off for 15 years. She’s learned that some victims don’t realize that they can leave until they see it on TV. 

In an interview for WDSE WRPT, Mia told Cathy Wurzer, “…There’s just not enough modeling happening on television for women. They can see women getting beaten up, but they can’t see people moving on with their lives and what that looks like.”

Screenwriter Mia McCullough makes heavy subject matters more palatable by adding dark humor into the mix.

Stories about such a world aren’t typical. Usually, domestic violence is presented in a sort of “tragedy porn.” Mia was very adamant about not creating “domestic violence porn”. The shown scenes happen after the violence occurs. The Haven is not depressing or man-hating. Lots of people – not just female romantic partners – experience domestic abuse. 
In an episode of The Plot podcast hosted by Sean Douglass, Elizabeth explained that “There have been a number of television shows are shot here in Chicago. But, for the most part, they are not really chicago productions in any sense. … Most of the series regulars, all of the guests, casts, and a lot of the recurring are cast out of town, — the small parts are left to the Chicago actors.”  

The Haven is not just a story about domestic abuse; it’s a project with a mission to showcase Chicago’s amazing creative talent. The production features mostly femme talent on screen and behind the camera.
Inspired by ER, The Wire, Nurse Jackie, Orange is the New Black and other dramedies, The Haven presents the multiple facets of the domestic violence issue. The storytelling goal of The Haven is to provide a better understanding of domestic violence. 
While the creative teams wait for the perfect collaborators to help realize this project as a 1-hour scripted series, they’re following this strategy:
  1. Write a 1-hour pilot with a Chicago focus.
  2. Reformat the script/story into a web series.
  3. Shoot the cheapest episode first while being mindful to pay their mostly femme cast and crew equitable rates.
  4. Use that first episode to raise money for more episodes.
  5. Shoot more episodes and raise more money.
  6. Promote and network.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until they find the perfect collaborator(s) who will help them write and shoot The Haven as a hour-long television series
Help Mia and Elizabeth achieve their goals by watching and sharing this amazing Chicago-made web series. The Haven was included in Open Television’s Cycle 4 programming lineup. You can watch full episodes of The Haven at haven or
Fangirlin' Women In Film

Everyone in Hollywood is Blowing ‘Big Smoke’ – Women in Film

Leah. 'Big Smoke' web series by Laura E. Bray and Miriam Glaser.
Miriam Glaser as Leah. ‘Big Smoke’ is written and created by Laura E. Bray and Miriam Glaser.

Big Smoke is basically what my life would have been had things not worked out for me and Le Roommate. 

About four episodes into this 6-part comedic web series about selling a TV show, I realized that Big Smoke is basically what my life will be once I work up the courage to actually sell my scripts.
Here’s what Big Smoke creators Laura E. Bray and Miriam Glaser taught me about selling a television script.
You can’t sell a screenplay if you don’t shop your screenplay. There are plenty of people looking to buy, so shoot your shot.
Despite what LinkedIn profiles, IMDB pages, or company websites say, everyone is just blowing smoke and hoping for the planets to align. So, yes, go to that pitch meeting with a positive attitude. Don’t sweat it if things fall through.

Don’t cyber-stalk your ex or creative competition — especially not before your big pitch. That’s a self-sabotaging activity that can lead to getting drunk, binging on ice cream, and weird headspaces. Focus on yourself. 
Pivot and wing it. Memorize your TV pitch and be ready to reframe the story so that your audience can better relate. 
Take all feedback with a grain of salt. The female exec might be going through a nasty divorce. Their note to kill your male lead might have less to do with female empowerment and more about unsigned divorce docs. Get it together, Liz!

Beware of full disclosures. It means to prepare for some bullshit. David, I’m looking at you!
BIG SMOKE: Things aren’t going according to plan for Leah, a thirty-something unemployed screenwriter who finds herself back home in suburban Melbourne after a whirlwind New York romance ends in heartbreak. Given her fragile mental state, Leah should probably see a therapist. Instead, she’s wrangled six US network executives to listen to her tragic tale via Skype in the hope of transforming her misfortune into a hit TV show. Watch full episodes at
Fangirlin' Women In Film

Winnifred Jong’s “Tokens on Call” is a Masterclass in Woke Storytelling – Women in Film

You know a series is great when you feel the same or more excitement when watching it a second time around. I had to wait about two years, but Tokens was worth the wait. Winnifred Jong’s Tokens is a masterclass in woke storytelling.

As a viewer, Tokens was a fun ride with lots of surprises and instantly lovable characters. Jong’s storytelling is educational without feeling like an afterschool special.

As a screenwriter, I was confronted with all the tired tropes that I’d picked up and unintentionally repeating in my work. Rewatching the series was a great study in how to flip the script on race and gender issues without being heavy-handed or preachy.

In the eight 5-minute episodes were featured multiple storylines that came together for a fresh and fun viewing experience. I wish there were more Bettys (Shelley Thompson) in the casting world.

After watching the series, I daydreamed about how much more exciting the storytelling world would be if there were more diversity in gender, race, and bodies on stage and screen. Like, what if there were a mandate that one role must be randomly cast.

In her interview on tokenized POC characters in visual media for LA-Screenwriter, said she was tired of seeing Asian characters as one-dimensional caricatures. Realizing that good scripts are hard to find, Jong set out to write her own story.

Oh yeah, Tokens also calls out issues with diversity in the production team. This series is everything. Winnifred and her team really did something.

Tokens is a tongue-in-cheek comedy about the actors who find themselves randomly sent to productions desperate to hit their diversity quotas. Think Uber for actors. The project was nominated by the Women In the Director’s Chair for Telefilm Canada MicroBudget Program funding. It’s also was one of 21 projects that received funding in the inaugural year of the Bell Fund – Short Form Digital Series Fiction Program.

Created on St. Maarten. Based in Chicago. Onicia Muller (@OniciaMuller) writes, says funny things, and enjoys hanging with creative minds. Originally published in The Daily Herald‘s Weekender, Just Being Funny is a weekly reflection where Onicia laughs at life
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