Yassir Lester- Writer: Girls & The Carmichael Show
When did you realize you wanted to work in television/ writing?
I initially wanted to be a comic book artist who also wrote, and then realized I didn’t really have what it takes to draw well. I’m good, but didn’t have the discipline to get amazing. Writing seemed to come natural. I know that sounds lame but it true. My brother Isaiah is also an amazing writer and we both started taking it seriously around the same time. I was 17, he was fifteen. And I’ve always been a TV addict. I don’t have the mind to be able to sit down and write a movie. I’d rather write six episodes of something and make it worth my while.
What advice do you have for college students who are looking to pursue the television industry?
RUN AWAY AND WORK IN FINANCE. If you don’t, be prepared for a lot of rejection and self doubt and anxiety. Also enjoy that time because it won’t be like that forever. It’s hard. Very hard to break in and no one can really prepare you for that because everyone’s path is different, but there isn’t really a short cut. I wish there was. I know people who are the children of TV writers or producers or siblings and they still have problems getting in. It’s just a hard industry. Like anything creative. It’s not built for the creators. So it’s hard to break in.
First job in entertainment? What you learned from it?
I mean if we don’t count PA jobs, my first real writing Job was for “Black Dynamite” on [adult swim]. It was great. Carl Jones (the show runner) is brilliant and taught me to trust my instincts.
What is your writing process like?
Let something stew in my head for a few weeks then write it all down at once and write like nine drafts of something over the course of two weeks until it’s out of my system.
Does writing for a show like “Girls” differ from writing standup?
Yeah for sure. Stand up is just what’s in your head. “Girls” is a real narrative. You have to make adjustments to make sure what you’re writing isn’t just funny, but truly serves the story.
How has your time been so far writing on “Girls”?
The writing season is over but it was amazing. Lena Dunham is by far one of the most creative, hilarious, genuine, and pure people on this planet. The way her mind works is insane to see. I know she’s my boss so it sounds like I’m just sucking up, but Lena is someone you see work and you think “wow she can literally do anything”. She’s that dope. And Jenni Konner (the Showrunner) is by far the most brilliant, sharp, quick witted, and efficiently funny person that I’ve ever encountered. She knows where the joke is, how to get to it without a bunch of non sense surrounding it, and make it really fit a story. She’s amazing. They along with Murray Miller, another EP who wrote “Seven Days in Hell” who I could listen to talk all day he’s that funny, Tami Sagher, Jason Kim, Max Brockman, Bruce Eric Kaplan, and Sarah Heyward are all so great that the total experience was crazy fun and cool.
What show made you fall in love with television? What show are you currently loving?
A few shows defined and solidified what made me fall I love with TV and still remain tent poles of what I want to do are: “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, “Martin”, “Roseanne”, “In Living Color”, “Arrested Development”, “Get a Life”, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, “The Chris Rock Show”, and “Tracy Takes On” to name a few.
Shows I’m loving right now are: “The Last Man on Earth”, “The Mindy Project”, “Real Husbands of Hollywood”, there’s a ton.