May 16, 2021

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Television writer Cord Jefferson challenges audiences to think more deeply


To read about the rest of the Cultural Transformation Program members, including TV executive Jasmin Lawson and spiritual counselor Emilia Ortiz, refer to the full list here.

In the midst of ascensionAmbient TVThis does not require many of its viewers, including their full attention, Coward Jefferson’s writing is not only thought-provoking but challenging. From the spiritually ambiguous quartet of “the good place” and the morally threatened “heirs of the caliphate”, to the social and political torment of the masked guards in “the guards” and the predicaments of an American-Indian man in “the master of nothing”, he challenges the masses to think beyond the realms they know.

For Jefferson, that’s intentional. “My goal is to try to make things look like additives,” he said on a call from his Los Angeles home. “I think if there is any connective tissue between them [my stories]They are trying to do something new, or help people think about their lives or think more deeply about the world around them. ”

Jefferson had this feeling of an obligation to reflect on our facts throughout his life. Describing himself as an “introvert”, he was raised by a white mother, who was a teacher and a political liberal, and a black father, who was a defense attorney and a Republican. Their Arizona home was filled, as he described it, with “a lot of divergent opinions, debate, debate, and sound arguments. He was encouraged to engage in the same way: to ask questions rather than just accept what someone was saying.

Jefferson recalled a certain moment in his childhood when he was planning to head to a friend’s house for a swim, and he glanced at a news clip his parents had been watching. Vanity Fair cover of 1991 Demi Moore is pregnant and nude. Without missing a moment, he said, “Oh my God, that’s so disgusting.”

Jefferson said, “I remember my dad and mom were questioning me and they wouldn’t let me leave until I explained to them why I thought it was disgusting.” “And I couldn’t because it was just something that I picked up on TV. I was proving it as my own idea, but I didn’t really understand why people thought it was gross.”

It took, Jeffersonian recalls, 45 minutes of his parents pleading with him to think independently to realize that this is an essential part of being a human being. He said, “It’s complicated.” “Things are subtle. The idea that you can view the world as a binary thing between good people and bad people and good things and bad things is not a way to approach life.”

From then on, Jefferson walked his journey – so much so that he became a “devil’s man’s advocate” in college in William & Mary, Virginia. “I think the 23-year-old Kord Jefferson would have been a nightmare, if I had to be honest,” he said with a laugh. “But as I get older, I think so [I’ve] I was less than Satan’s advocate and more than someone who thought deeply about everything. “

This was evident during our conversation, as Jefferson paused to rethink something he had said. Referring to a character in The Good Place, he said, “Chidi was very close and dear to my heart, because I often find myself bogged down in even the smallest decisions in my life, and I spend days and days inside discussing most of the small details of my existence.”

These include the implications of his parents’ divorce when he was fifteen, the navigating white space as a bi-racial black man, and the constant anger he said he felt about the world around him. He was able to compare each of these things through “doing a lot of therapy” and in his varied work, including the awesome “Sentinels” episode “This Extraordinary Being,” which earned him an Emmy. The one-hour story explored the pent-up trauma of racism and homophobia in a trilogy, nostalgia with mesmerizing black-and-white cinematography.

The screenplay, co-written by model Damon Lindelof, was a “healer” for Jefferson. “I spent my childhood in Tucson, which can be a fairly laid-back place,” Jefferson said. “I was a black kid with a funny name in this city as there was no one else who looked like me or resembled my family and I felt very lonely often.”

This frustration has intensified over time, and is exacerbated by today’s bleak political landscape. “I think these are the feelings that any number of blacks in this country is likely to speak to,” Jefferson said. This is especially the case in Hollywood which, even in light of the current cultural shifts, is still marked by the White Gate guard.

He said, “A black friend told me years ago that to be a successful person in this industry and in America, I felt like he was a sociopath.” “Because he was constantly lying about who he was, and the things he believed, to everyone around him. I still think about saying that, especially when it comes to that. [‘This Extraordinary Being’]; How do people, myself included, hide their emotions in order to remedy it, because you don’t want to be considered an angry black man or an angry black woman. ”

That is why Jefferson tried so hard to live without fear of judgment throughout his life and career, first as a journalist and now as a cinematic storyteller keen to create his own shows with New package deal with Warner Bros.. It also helps empower others to do the same with Susan M. Fellowship launch. Haas For journalists interested in TV writing. Named after his mother, who died of breast cancer in 2016, the initiative will give two people the financial and creative support needed to develop the original pilots.

It’s just another way Jefferson strives to get others to think – and in the case of collegiality, creativity – outside of their own funds.

He said, “I think a lot of people have learned to live their lives in a way that allows them to always avoid fear.” “We have to really look for things that make us fear all the time, because these are the things that make life worth living for me.”