Kourtney Richard Interview: The brains behind 'Star Trek Discovery After Trek' on being a 'fantasy nerd' and her debt to Shonda Rimes
Kourtney Richard, the talented writer, producer, and entrepreneur shot to fame after she started writing for 'After Trek'. She speaks exclusively to Meaww
If you've wondered for the longest time about who writes the witty lines in 'Star Trek Discovery's After Trek'? Here's your mystery solved - it's LA-based Kourtney Richard. The talented writer, producer, and entrepreneur shot to fame after she started writing for the show.
Her expertise is unparalleled but the real reason why this show worked so well for her was that it was more than just a regular job. A self-proclaimed "fantasy nerd", she tells Meaww, "It was my passion for the franchise. Not only am I a huge science fiction but I loved what Star Trek stood for."
Of Hispanic origin, she says that as a woman of color too, it was a great experience. "The Roddenberry team embraced the concept of diversity years before it became a "thing." As a woman of color, it is great to see diverse cast who isn't playing "their ethnicity."
It all started with her dad and brothers, who were huge fans of the series, coaxing her into watching the films and before she knew it, she was a fan too! "When I was younger, I was forced to watch Star Trek every night because my dad was a huge fan. I remember like it was yesterday seeing Nichelle Nicols on our big new color TV and I was ecstatic! She was so talented and most of all, she was a part of the main cast."
It didn't take long for me to become a fan, alongside my dad. Watching Star Trek took us to another place -- away from our reality." Her favorite sci-fi shows include films from Marvel and DC, Stranger Things, Interstellar, and Ridley Scott's 'Alien.'
Apart from 'After Trek', she's also worked for big names in the industry like Kevin Hart, for his production venture Hart Beat Productions. She assures us that Kevin is actually just as funny in real life. "Working for Kevin Hart is just pure comedy all day. I remember sitting in the writer's room and all we did was write and laugh. I was so nervous that my jokes wouldn't hit, but they did!"
She's no newbie to the industry and has worked in 'Screwed', 'BSU: Black Student Union' and 'According to Him + Her'. But producing a good script is no child's play, she says. Insecurities creep in and there is an intense amount of effort. "When writing a script, I always keep the audience in mind. Will they laugh at this joke? Will this particular scene capture them? Will they tune in again? So I when I'm finished with a script, I always lean on my closest peers to read it and give me feedback," she tells Meaww.
It's a lot like being a chameleon she says. "Also, as a writer, you have to become someone else when writing characters -- so your script won't sound like one voice. If I'm writing for a character named Jack from New York who is a part of a cartel, I have to write as if I am him. I take myself out of my own world and become the characters."
She also reveals she always had a knack for it, but it was a certain Will Smith starrer that got the ball rolling initially. "Fresh Prince of Bel Air...I would watch it and think, "I would have written that line differently" or "I would have introduced this character sooner." I slowly became a critic versus a viewer. I would seriously stress myself out while watching TV shows and movies because I was too busy studying the character's dialog and their storyline. It got to the point where I would print out scripts of my favorite shows and rewrite them," she tells Meaww.
But it was Shonda Rhimes' iconic 'Scandal' that really started her writing journey. "Once ABC's Scandal came out in 2012, I felt like it was time. There I was sitting in my living room in Brooklyn witnessing a black woman, Shonda Rhimes, give us one of the best political dramas in the history of TV. I then began my quest to scriptwriting and I've never looked back since."
A script critic of sorts, what makes a great script according to Richards? One that can keep the mystery alive till the end, she says. "When a reader gets to the last page and wants more! Not only does the story need to be compelling, but the format is everything."
If you're someone who's starting out, she advises that you keep your script as precise as possible. "I love reading scripts that aren't overly detailed. Some writers will write a long paragraph describing one scene -- and it's not necessary. It's great to paint the picture for the reader, but don't overdo it. Interesting characters make a great script!"
She also advises that if you want to make it in the industry, always be prepared. "Wake up early and get dressed even if you don't have a job to go to -- you're one step ahead of the people who are still sleeping waiting on a call. Always be prepared for whatever blessing that may come your way. The irony? Each major job I've ever had in the past have called me in AM wanting to meet ASAP. Be ready!"
She works as a freelance writer at present after her mum was diagnosed with mental illness. "A few years ago my mother was diagnosed with dementia so it's been a challenging journey thus far. The great part about being a freelance writer is that each job is usually 3-4 months, so during hiatus (or if I'm able to write remotely), I'm in Texas with her. My mother is my best friend and I refuse to let her travel down this path alone."
Super close to her mum, even the idea of an "ideal day" revolves around her. "Ideal day for me is to wake up, write, hang out with my mom, write some more, watch a TV series, and write before I go to bed."
Kourtney is also working on her own super secret film. "Though cannot disclose much, what I will say is -- it's a "made for TV" Christmas movie for single folks! Its slated for 2019 and I'm super excited!" Will she be working alongside her dream names of Shonda Rhimes, Ava Duvernay, John Ridley, James Cameron, Ryan Murphy, JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman? Hopefully, she will be receiving her "third Oscar award". Time will tell.