On the Write Track: Local Writer Kristin Tucker Brings Comedic Ideas to Your Streaming DeviceJun 01, 2022 ● By Lisa Dawson
Envisioning the setting. Developing characters. Eliciting emotions through words. Collaborating with producers, directors and actors. Writing and rewriting.
These are all aspects of a screenwriter’s job – plus dozens more intangible tasks that go into creating the television shows, limited series and films that capture viewers’ hearts and entertain us.
There is much more to the process of creating a movie or TV series than meets the eye. Screenwriters create a visual blueprint for the story, develop storylines as well as characters’ back stories, and provide detailed descriptions of scene settings, direction and dialogue. Whether an original piece or a story adapted for the screen, without a screenplay a film or television project cannot be made.
It’s possible that no one in Frisco knows these processes better than Emmy Award-nominated resident Kristin Tucker, an established screenwriter who is considered a fresh, new voice in Hollywood.
Her professional screenwriting resume is impressive. One of Tucker’s first writing projects was for Disney’s hit series Dog With A Blog. She also worked on the Showtime series Black Monday and was accepted into NBC’s Writers on the Verge program, which readies writers for staff writer positions on television productions.
Tucker was a writer for HBO’s groundbreaking, Emmy-nominated series A Black Lady Sketch Show, which was the first sketch-comedy series written and directed by and starring black women. She also recently wrote for season two of the Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated series The Flight Attendant on HBO Max.
She has a new writing project in the works, a Netflix drama called Redd Zone. It is based on the true story of a single California mother who helps her son and his high school football teammates deal with the murder of their friend Dominic Redd. The film is set to star Jada Pinkett Smith and be directed by former NFL wide receiver-turned-Academy Award winner Matthew Cherry.
A resident of Frisco since 2007, Tucker’s passion for writing and telling stories is rooted in tradition. During her childhood in Dallas, she was influenced by her aunt, Dianne Tucker, who founded the Dallas Drama Company. Dianne Tucker, who passed away earlier this year, was a maven of drama, playwriting, storytelling and acting within the area’s theater community.
“Growing up in Dallas, screenwriting wasn’t really a thing,” Kristen Tucker says. “My aunt Dianne was a playwright and I spent time at her company. She really was the first writer that I knew and looked up to. I announced to her drama company at a young age that I was going to be a writer.”
Tucker says her aunt was a passionate storyteller who dedicated her life to her nonprofit community theater organization. “She wrote, hired actors, raised funds for productions. … She did it all.”
These days, Tucker’s work frequently takes her to Los Angeles. However, she says family is what keeps her tied her to Frisco. Her mother moved here in 2007 and Tucker soon followed. “I moved to Frisco before it really exploded in population,” she says. “What I love about it here is the access to outdoor spaces. There are beautiful walking trails and I really enjoy the quiet beauty.” She especially enjoys exploring new areas to go walking, which “helps give me time to think and connect with nature.”
Her Dallas roots have had a big influence on her career. Dr. Terry Flowers, principal of St. Philip’s School and Community Center in South Dallas, encouraged her to write. “To this day, he has a folder at his desk of things I’d written as a child,” Tucker says. “That beginning helped me hone my talent.”
Tucker graduated from The Hockaday School where she had been actively involved in the theater program. “I started Hockaday in fifth grade and it had a huge impact on life. It was a crucial period of my development,” she says. “Being in an all-girl space gave me a sense of confidence in terms of not being afraid of stating an opinion or speaking up. The school also challenged me academically.”
She recalls school trips to Europe where she visited France, Switzerland and Italy with her classmates. There were also trips to historic Williamsburg, Virginia, and New Orleans as well as San Antonio. “Attending Hockaday helped me cultivate a work ethic I saw growing up in my own family. I am very focused and organized and I think a lot of my early education experiences shaped that for me,” she says.
Tucker, who was president of her senior class, delivered the commencement speech for Hockaday’s 2020 graduation ceremony. She joined a list of impressive previous speakers who have included Gloria Steinem and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Tucker attended Georgetown University and the University of Southern California. She took a screenwriting class at the latter. “I thought, ‘This is it. This is what I want to do,’” she recalls and went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in screenwriting from the University of Texas at Austin. Later, she was among seven comedy semi-finalists at the Austin Film Festival, and also won the sitcom division for Scriptapalooza, an internationally recognized screenwriting competition.
During the pandemic, opportunities to travel to Los Angeles for production slowed down and Tucker says she missed seeing her fellow writers and being on television and movie sets.
“The writers were set to be heavily involved in production for A Black Lady Sketch Show and some of us were even going to be in the show’s sketches,” she says. “I was excited for that opportunity but obviously, due to the pandemic, it didn’t happen. Also, The Flight Attendant was in production and I missed out of being on set and seeing that script come to life.”
Tucker recently sold a script pitch to Warner Brothers and is looking forward to having more shows in development. She says there are also a few additional writing projects that she is wrapping up. “Now that things are opening back up, I am looking forward to traveling again. I did get to be in Los Angeles for the premiere of the second season of The Flight Attendant and it was a joy to see my co-workers.”
Aside from her supportive family’s roots in performing and having an education that inspired her to pursue her dreams, Tucker says that television has inspired much of her screenwriting. “I’ve written more for television than film,” she says. “The Office was the show that made me want to be a comedy writer.”
She enjoys watching reruns of such shows as The Golden Girls. “I actually watch it every night,” she says. “The writing and jokes are great, and most of it still holds up today – though not all of it, of course.” Other favorite shows include Barry, Reservation Dogs, Atlanta and Hacks.
“I enjoy shows that can blend dramatic moments with comedic elements ... those are my favorite,” Tucker says. “If something deeply entertaining also has something meaningful to say, that's gold to me.”
Lisa Dawson is a freelance writer and Frisco resident.