Dominque Holmes is a Jamaican-born screenwriter in the midst of a majorly impressive winning-streak. Over the past few years, her work has garnered recognition across several significant screenwriting competitions including ScreenCraft’s Pilot Launch, the Austin Film Festival, and, most recently, WeScreenplay’s Diverse Voices contest for her TV Pilot, Bog Walk. Dominque recently took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with us a bit about her experiences, as well as the importance of diversity in capturing a global audience.
Dominique, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Tell us a bit about yourself. Where’d you grow up?
I grew up in Jamaica. My Dad is Jamaican and my mum is Trinidadian, so I’d visit her side of the family in Trinidad in the summer.
Has writing always been a big part of your life?
I’ve always kept a journal. The focused writing came much later. I spent my childhood listening and observing. Between Trinidad and Jamaica, I was surrounded by all kinds of people from all walks of life. I loved soaking up their stories.
Let’s talk a bit about your influences. Give us some idea of the things that inspire your craft, from writers and filmmakers, to life in general.
I love to read. I love to paint. I love to travel. I love to go to museums. All of these things inform my perspective and sense of story. I’m currently reading Tove Jansson, Willa Cather and 18th century erotica. Also, Simon’s Cat on YouTube. Genius.
You won the grand prize for WeScreenplay’s Diverse Voices competition for your TV pilot, “Bog Walk”. Tell us a bit about the script, as well as the contest experience. Has the recognition helped you make in-roads in your professional life?
It was such a surprise to win WeScreenplay’s Diverse Voices contest! BOG WALK was the first script I had written about home. It’s a story that’s very close to my heart and I held off on writing it until I was sure I could do it justice. The competition provided valuable feedback and some good publicity and exposure. Shortly after the Diverse Voices contest win, I signed with my manager who has been a terrific advocate for my work, helping me navigate industry meetings and career strategy.
Let’s talk about the state of diversity in the entertainment-industry. What’s your experience been like? Do you feel like Hollywood has made any genuine strides towards increased inclusivity?
The success of shows like MASTER OF NONE, EMPIRE, FRESH OFF THE BOAT and films like MOONLIGHT and GET OUT demonstrate the demand for more diverse perspectives in Hollywood. The entertainment industry is increasingly reliant on reaching a global audience. Likewise, alternative distribution options (like Netflix) have made inroads for foreign cinema in the west. My background has given me a natural tendency to approach stories with an international perspective.
Tell us about your favorite film festival experiences so far?
I really love the Austin Film Festival. I first went to Austin with a film that I co-wrote with director Alle Hsu called SOPHIE which screened at the festival. The second time I went I was a finalist in the Austin Film Festival’s screenwriting competition, and I had a blast attending the panels and parties and the awards luncheon. Another memorable festival experience was last year’s Nashville Film Festival where ScreenCraft produced an excellent screenwriters conference with top screenwriters, producers, managers and agents. The conference culminated in an impromptu trip to a double-wide trailer dive bar for late-night karaoke with almost all the conference’s VIPs.
Now that you’ve made several important strides in your career, what advice do you have for international screenwriters just beginning their journey?
A TV writer once said to me, “Every script you write will change your life.” I’ve found this to be true. Every time you write a script and send it out into the world, you will make things happen. Most of those things will be unexpected. That’s the joy of it.