One of the most gratifying experiences an indie sci-fi film scriptwriter can have is seeing their script recognized. For sci-fi fan and screenwriter Aimee Dansereau (one of the two minds behind the sci-fi community known as She-Fi), that experience happened recently with her contest win in the Television category of the Fall 2018 WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Lab. The Diverse Voices contest encourages and highlights the scripts of writers of color, women writers, writers with disabilities, writers over 40, writers in the LGBTQ+ community, and any other voices that have historically been ignored by Hollywood.
Aimee chatted with us about here Diverse Voices win, why she loves sci-fi, and why it matters to promote diversity in the filmmaking industry.
RECURSOR: Tell us about your Diverse Voices win.
AIMEE: It was really cool. WeScreenplay (which runs the contest) had a script lab for us, and we got to meet with industry professionals. It was a good experience. A lot of the people we met were judges for the contest, so they had already read our scripts. We came in and talked about who we are, what our brand is, what kind of screenwriter we are, and what kind of mark we want to make on Hollywood.
What script did you win for?
I submitted my sci-fi series called BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, which reflects the Diverse Voices theme. This script deals with racial oppression and discrimination. The lead is a female lead, and the main characters are of all different ethnic backgrounds. So, it seemed like it would be complementary to the contest’s vision.
Why does the idea of diverse voices resonate with you? Why does it matter?
If you look around at society, there are so many diverse individuals. TV, movies, and other media should reflect the real world we live in, rather than portray just one kind of person. Everyone should be able to see themselves represented on the screen.
That idea resonates with me. As a biracial woman, I’m ethnically half-Latina, half French-Canadian. Growing up, I didn’t always see myself represented on the screen, and it made me feel kind of bad.
I’m loving what’s happening today with more voices being represented. We’re seeing Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther. People are ready for that. They want to see different people represented onscreen.
What attracted you to sci-fi as a genre?
I grew up loving STAR TREK. In fact, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION was one of my first doorways into sci-fi. I love sci-fi, fantasy, and genre shows in general. As a writer, I want to express myself within that genre. I think I’ll add a unique voice to it as a biracial woman, because I don’t think we see a lot of biracial or Latina women writing sci-fi.
Give us some examples of diversity in sci-fi that you’ve enjoyed.
BLACK PANTHER was inspirational. THE EXPANSE has a diverse cast. STAR TREK: DISCOVERY has always been great with diversity. They have an African American woman, Sonequa Martin-Green, as the lead. (Editor’s note: The original showrunner, Bryan Fuller, has said that casting an African American woman as the lead in a Star Trek project was his vision for yearsbefore it came about.)
As far as women, it’s great to see CAPTAIN MARVEL and WONDER WOMAN out there as well. And of course, Dr. Who is a woman now.
Who are some of your favorite sci-fi writers?
There’s an African American sci-fi novelist Nnedi Okorafor—her main characters are African women, and there’s a lot of African mythology and culture in her sci-fi. Neil Gaiman is really amazing. Douglas Adams. A childhood favorite was Lewis Carroll. Aldous Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD, George Orwell’s 1984.
I enjoyed the writing in Joss Whedon’s shows (FIREFLY), Ron D. Moore (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, OUTLANDER), Jane Espenson (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), Tara Butters (REAPER). The creator of VIKINGS (Michael Hurst) is a phenomenal writer. There are so many shows, it’s hard to keep up. One of my favorite screenwriters is Jenji Kohan (WEEDS, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK). I love AMERICAN HORROR STORY – it’s a very character-driven TV series.
You also run a sci-fi community called She-Fi, which you started with writing partner Sarah Cooke. Tell us about it.
Sarah and I met in grad school, and we’ve been friends ever since. We both love sci-fi. So, She-Fi started out as a YouTube channel where we talked about different sci-fi TV shows, books, and movies. While the YouTube channel isn’t active now, we have a social media presence—a Facebook group. And it’s a lot of fun. Other artists are allowed to promote their sci-fi art, products, and videos as long as it’s sci-fi/fantasy and geek-related content (that’s not pornographic).
You’ve also worked with Sarah on scripts. Which do you prefer—having a writing partner, or writing solo?
I really like working with people because it inspires me creatively to have someone to bounce ideas off of. At the same time, picking a writing partner is kind of like picking a romantic partner, because you are birthing this project together and they own 50% of the intellectual property (IP). You need to make sure that when you choose a partner, it’s someone you’re compatible working with, who brings something to the table when you collaborate, and they’re passionate about the project as well. It’s not something you should go into lightly.
Working alone, you’re the sole owner of that IP, and that’s kind of cool too, but I do like working with partners.
What advice do you have for fellow screenwriters?
Not to let rejection stop you. There is going to be a lot of rejection. I’ve had people like my work; I’ve had people really hate my work; and even after the win, I don’t think it stops. Criticism is always there. And if you let it get you down, then you won’t make it as a writer.
In a sense, my work gets more criticized because it gets shown to more people. I think that’s just true about life. There’s always going to be criticism, and you just have to keep going and find a way to not let it get you down.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, Sarah and I are producing MY HUMAN EXPERIENCE, a sci-fi project that is still in the early development stages. It’s a sci-fi comedy about two aliens. One’s a logical scientist, a socially-awkward type. The other is a really creative type, the opposite of the first. And they need to work together to study the human race from a sociological perspective. In doing so, they find their own humanity.
Aimee Dansereau is a writer based in California. Her sci-fi TV pilot script, BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, was the Television Category Winner of WeScreenplay’s Diverse Voices Contest (2019). She co-wrote a sci-fi comedy pilot script, MY HUMAN EXPERIMENT, which was a finalist (one of the Top 10) in the Creative World Awards Contest. She is also co-founder with Sarah Cooke of She-fi: Ladies Who Love Sci-Fi, an online community that aims to be a fun, positive space to share news, ideas, and discussions about sci-fi and fantasy TV shows, movies, books, and comics.