For Decades, white males have dominated the casting and direction of the entertainment industry. As a result, American culture and its youth have been influenced by only one perspective. This is now changing. In hopes to eliminate the barriers to entry and spread inclusivity Denise Hewett built Scriptd to level the playing field for screenwriters and content producers.
America is vast and diverse and finally, we are seeing a full spectrum of representation. Beauty brands such as Fenty, Huda Beauty, and Flesh have all launched in the past two years to capitalize on the inclusivity. As the population for African-Americas, Asians, and Hispanics grow, we are witnessing a new era of these performers on screen in leading roles. Hence, if there was ever a time for an Asian individual to become an actor, this would be it! (Shout out to Crazy Rich Asians!) But what if you had no connections to the big shots in Hollywood and are mad talented, as a writer, that is?
“Scriptd was built initially as an industry database. Anyone can upload content. All voices are valid. We work between writers and buyers and are eliminating the barriers to entry by empowering women and people of color.”
Lack of diversity was one of the many problems Founder of Scriptd, Denise Hewett set out to solve. As an Executive Producer for Hollywood, Denise had her fair share with the inner workings. “After a certain point of working in these environments, you realize that it is completely skewed. I had lost a lot of work opportunities due to individuals hitting on me and making me feel othered. As a woman, I clearly saw a huge opportunity for a shift in the entertainment industry. We know what makes money is inclusive content, but yet, no one has built the tools for it.”
With no tech background, Denise sat on this idea for 1.5 years until she finally decided to build the tools herself. Scriptd launched in 2015 as a platform for anyone (women, people of color, non-American citizens and white men) to upload their scripts and use upvotes and ratings to display the best performing content that resonates with the public in real time. Buyers can also browse the platform to produce these scripts into films based on data. This lowers their risk of developing a concept that might flop in theaters. Fun fact: 90% of the scripts that have been auctioned are written by women or people of color! Ohhh yeah! (Does the happy dance).
For most tech companies it is all about proving product-market fit when approaching investors for funding. “By working in the business, I had a lot of friends who wrote TV shows. They were our early writers. We had 50 to 100 scripts before we launched and now have over 1,000.”
Having bootstrapped the company herself via friends and family round, Scriptd has relied on word of mouth marketing and organic press to spread the word. “There is a lot of magic in the universe. My tech director built the platform for equity while working at Dreamworks!” Scriptd also participated in a media tech accelerator to help raise funds, build their new product and perfect their pitch.
Born in Florida, Denise moved around a lot as a child. Seven times to be exact. She was captain of her dance squad in high school and was always hustling side gigs from helping out florists to working in nightlife entertainment, fashion editorial, content production and even waitressing. Today, her side gig is DJing where she has performed for Oprah, Glow Recipe, Soho House and more. I have to say, we are big fans of her music!
“I never set out to be an entrepreneur. Since I moved around so much all I wanted was stability and roots. I wanted a stable job! However, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, where both my father and brother are CEO’s.” This helped Denise get the push she needed when starting out.
Denise tells us how important it is as a solo founder to find a mentor, advisor, and therapist you can rely on. “I think everyone should go to therapy. It is a place to deposit your fears, stresses and heal. It has been game-changing for my life! The way I move through struggles today is very different than before. Being an entrepreneur you can’t blame anyone else for your issues and when they surface you need a business coach or life coach to serve you. I am lucky that my therapist functions as all three.”
Her additional takeaways:
If you are a young entrepreneur or have not worked at many companies you should go through an accelerator since it provides you with the basics of running a company and validation for investors.
Try to compensate your co-conspirators, but if you can’t and they are willing to work for equity, feel free to explore that option.
Don't hold your dreams by their neck. Let your company live and breath, trust the journey. Give your idea space to form.
Be radically obsessed with what you are building. We are living in a time where it is very trendy to be an entrepreneur. It is not for the faint of heart as not everyone should be a founder, it takes grit.
If you are obsessed, you will figure it out.
When the going gets tough, double down on your vision.
Get a therapist!
Scriptd currently holds readings in Los Angeles where actors can also participate to get spotted by industry folks. If you are a writer or an actor, sign up for Scriptd today to help disrupt Hollywood. When not DJing or working, you can find Denise obsessing over skincare as her new hobby. For women entrepreneurs, in particular, she recommends reading the book, LeapFrog to kickstart your venture.
Photo courtesy of Scriptd.