In today’s creative spotlight, we have the pleasure of introducing Latasha Mercer, a dedicated and innovative storyteller making waves in the entertainment industry.
Recently relocated to Los Angeles, Latasha is immersing herself in an exhilarating journey from East Coast writer to Netflix collaborator, all while maintaining her roots as an independent content creator. Our conversation covers her career journey, her recent involvement with Netflix’s Created By Initiative, the genesis of her impactful web series ‘Sit Black and Relax’, and the integral role Celtx played in her creative process.
Let’s dive into her story.
Hi Latasha, thanks for taking the time to speak with Celtx.
Hi, Celtx! So happy to speak with you – and to be correct amongst all of my writing friends about how to enunciate “Celtx”!
I understand you just made the move from the East Coast to LA – what brought about that move?
I moved to L.A. because I began a writing residency created by legendary storyteller, Mara Brock Akil, called The Writer’s Colony. I am also signed with Damn Write Originals, and I wanted to know my friends off of Zoom!
Can you tell us a little bit about the Created By Initiative from Netflix?
Yes! Netflix committed to increase representation in the industry through their Netflix Fund For Creative Equity, which birthed the first-ever Netflix Created By Initiative. This initiative offers script development deals to 14 mid-level film and series writers.
How did you hear about them? How did you get involved?
Netflix collaborated with six leading organizations who created access to underrepresented creators: The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment), Native American Media Alliance, and the organization that I’m apart of: The Black TV and Film Collective. The BTFC, specifically Okema T. Moore, asked me to submit my material to the initiative, and I was selected!
How has your life changed since you have been involved?
I am magnificently stressed! This is the precipice of me transitioning from “aspiring” to “professional”, amongst being in an entirely new city and meeting a ton of new people! A lot of huge changes are at my feet.
Let’s go back a few years. You created an amazing web series called Sit Back and Relax – how did you get the idea for the series?
The series came about because in 2012, when the Black community lost Trayvon Martin to national racial injustice, I wanted to transition from Entertainment Host to Storyteller in order to represent the concerns of my community. This moment in time shook my interracial friendships to the core; I was no longer “Latasha”, I was a Black woman – which was an offense to people who were uncomfortable discussing race. The journey displayed in S1 was about bridging the gap of that discussion in an interracial friendship. S2 focuses much more on the journey of “adulting” for a young woman who’s trying to stand on her own two feet for the first time in her life – more like a “remix” instead of a follow up of the first season.
Writer, Producer and Director – sounds like you took a lot on here – many customers at Celtx are solo creators as well – tell us about that process – how did it help shape you as a creator?
As an independent creator, you have to get used to wearing many hats to complete your project. Though you will meet other passionate filmmakers who will help you, ultimately you are the captain of the ship and must be hands on on all aspects of the project. This has given me a ton of hudspa for the marathon that is filmmaking, as well as valuable skillsets that will assist me into stepping into various industry positions.
What role does/did Celtx play in your journey?
Celtx was such a valuable part of my journey; it provided me professional grade tools to create in accordance with the industry standard, while remaining financially accessible. It’s made for the independent and aspiring creative; I’ve used Celtx from Sit Black and Relax all the way to Netflix – and no one has questioned the quality of the work I turned in because Celtx meets the standard of professionalism.
So what does the next few months and few years look like for you?
The next few months are the challenging, faithful road of the unknown; I’m going to work closely with The Writer’s Colony, Damn Write Originals, and Netflix, while pitching my independent TV dramas and acquiring representation. In a few years, I will be the name behind a universe of racy drama television series, while uplifting my community while I climb. Like Celtx, it’s important to me to provide accessibility to the aspiring creative – to give them the hope and courage to dream.
What advice do you have for young people looking to break into the industry?
My advice is that if you saw it in your mind, it already exists. You’ve already accomplished it. The only thing to do, to get where you want to go, is to take one step at a time. And always, rest when you need. Your dreams will never leave you. Create from an authentic, genuine place. Be good to people. Don’t rush your journey.
Finally, we like to ask people for one scriptwriting or production lesson you’ve learned over the years to help get a script finished, that you wish you knew before – it can be as general or specific as you’d like – anything come to mind?
My lesson learned was to plan the entire road out before I started on production. Your team wants to know and see the end, and help you fill in any holes to get you there. Before you begin to hire or shoot: what and when the last stop? Where is the show going? Youtube? Film Festival? Pitch to sell? Digital streamer? And last but not least, CONTRACTS, CONTRACTS, CONTRACTS for relationships of all kind.
Thanks Latasha. How can the people of Celtx support you in your journey and follow along?
Exposure is always a great thing in terms of connecting to more great people. At this point, I am still unrepped, so a connection with a literary agent and / or manager would be incredibly valuable. Other than that, I keep all of my updates on www.justlatasha.com!
As we draw our conversation with Latasha Mercer to a close, we are left inspired by her journey, her tenacity, and her vision for a more representative future in the entertainment industry.
We anticipate great things from her upcoming projects and look forward to seeing how her stories continue to shape and influence the landscape of television drama. In the meantime, follow along with her journey at www.justlatasha.com and remember her sage advice to those entering the industry: create authentically, rest when needed, and cherish each step of your unique journey.
Whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker or an established professional, let Latasha’s story remind you of the power of storytelling and the importance of perseverance in the face of change.