Tracy Oliver – First Black Female Screenwriter of 100 million dollar box office grossing film

2017 Variety's Power Of Women Luncheon, Beverly Hills, USA - 13 Oct 2017
Photo Credit Shutterstock

Tracy Oliver is the epitome of  what intentional success looks like. As a female screenwriter who didn’t feel she was getting her worth out of her successful scripts; instead of complaining she put the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out the next steps she needed to take.

Definitely Oliver realized the next steps for her in addition to writing screen plays had to be to become a producer and showrunner. It’s almost like after the success of Girls Trip which grossed over 100 million dollars at the box office (screenplay she co-wrote with Kenya Barris) a light-bulb went off that let Tracy know she was destined for greatness!

According to Indiewire.com:

“Girl’s Trip” screenwriter Tracy Y. Oliver got a career by getting mad. Before she became the co-star, writer, and producer on fellow Stanford University alum Issa Rae’s web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” she watched the 2009 ensemble rom-com “He’s Just Not That Into You” starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly and Scarlett Johansson. The film was set in Baltimore, which has a population that is 64% black and 30% white.

That let to a spec script: “Marriage Is for White People.” She said she wrote it in jest, but it stemmed from a very real response. “It had an all-white cast, which made little sense to me,” she said. “Baltimore is very black, and it felt like an aggressive erasure of people of color. So instead of just being upset about it, I thought, let me write my own ensemble version but will be all people of color.”

Since then, Oliver became the first African American woman to write a feature (with co-writer Kenya Barris) that grossed over $100 million domestic with “Girls Trip.” The film’s critical and commercial success led to a first-look deal with Topic Studios, and a work calendar that includes a serial adaptation of the 1996 dramedy “The First Wives Club,” a “Clueless” remake, and the adaptation of “The Sun Is Also a Star,” which Warner Bros. releases May 17.

Oliver said that while her spec script got Hollywood’s attention, she was dismayed to learn that her message seemed to lose something in translation. “It helped get me a reputation, although what I discovered from all the meetings I took is that if I wanted to advance, at least at the time, I had to write something ‘white’,” Oliver said. “That was really disheartening because one of the reasons I wanted to even do this was because I wanted to see myself and people I knew, reflected on screen.”

That led to the creation of “Awkward Black Girl,” which later became the precursor to HBO’s “Insecure.” “We weren’t making any money from it, because all of the money being made was reinvested back into the show,” Oliver said. “So I had to get a real job to be able to do other things that I hoped in the long run would pan out.”

Eventually, “Marriage Is for White People” made its way to Dan Fogelman (“This Is Us”), with whom Oliver shared a manager at the time. “He read it, thought it was hilarious, and then met with me and said that we should figure out a way to work on something,” she said. “And as soon as ‘Neighbors’ went to series, he made good on that and hired me.”

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