Nathan Louis Jackson is the playwright in residence at the KC Repthrough the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Playwright Residency Program grant. A Kansas City, Kansas native, he is a graduate of Washington High School. He is also an alum of Kansas State University and did his graduate work at The Juilliard School.
His plays include Broke-ology (Lincoln Center 2009, KC Rep 2010), When I Come to Die (Lincoln Center in 2011, KC Rep 2014), and Sticky Traps (KC Rep 2015). He has received commissions from both Lincoln Center and The Roundabout Theater Company. At K-State, he was actively involved with the Ebony Theatre (as a director and as president) and participated in The Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting Intensive. He has twice won the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, is the recipient of the Mark Twain Comedy Playwriting Award, and was awarded the Kennedy Center’s Gold Medallion. He has written for television as well, with credits for Southland (NBC), Lights Out (FX), Shameless (Showtime), Resurrection (ABC), Luke Cage (Netflix) and is currently working on 13 Reasons Why (Netflix).
Jackson will join Danyelle Ferguson and Kristin Huston at our 2016 Writers Conference for a panel discussion on Writing Dialogue.
Introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?
I am Nathan Louis Jackson. I was born and raised in Kansas City. I've lived in both New York and L.A., but am now back in Kansas City where I live with my wife and two children. I work primarily in KC but sometimes in New York and LA.
What kind of writing do you do?
I am a playwright and screen writer.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing professionally for 9 years.
Did you choose your genre, or did it choose you?
I never sat down and decided what kind of genre I would write. It all just kind of happened. I wanted to play basketball when I was growing up, but I figured out in high school that I wasn't good enough. I was kind of lost until my drama teacher introduced me to theatre. After falling in love with performing theatre, I fell in love with writing it.
How many unpublished manuscripts are stuffed in your desk drawer (or in a folder on your computer?)
I have 4 or 5 unpublished plays or screenplays. But I also have tons of unpublished monologues, poems and short stories.
What do you find most challenging or surprising about the writing process? The publishing process?
Rewrites are always the most challenging but also the most rewarding part of the process. The start of the rewriting process is realizing that no play is perfect. Then you have to be willing to make the changes that are best for the play (not the playwright.)
On what does your writing productivity depend? Is it a routine, a place, a special pen?
I am most productive if I have 3 three things:
1. Sleep. My mind works so much better when it's fully rested.
2. My own space. It doesn't have to be the same space every time. Just so long as I'm in control of it.
3. A happy home. I have a hard time focusing if my kids are sick, or my wife is upset, or the kitchen is a mess, or bills need paid.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever gotten?
Marsha Norman said, "Just write. Worry about what's on the page once it's on the page. For now, just right."
To whom do you look for inspiration?
My inspiration comes from watching the world around me. Everyday I hope to be moved by something I experience. An article in the news. A fight I overheard. A delicious meal. Anything that evokes emotion from me is something I'd want to explore on the page.
What books do you recommend to fellow readers and writers?
A few books and plays I'd recommend are:
1. Some of My Best friends are Black by Tanner Colby
2. The Returned by Jason Mott
3. The Mountaintop by Katori Hall
4. The Island by Athol Fugard
5. Cherokee Family Reunion by Larissa FastHorse