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Reading Richard Wright’s autobiography “Black Boy” and visualizing his life in the early 1920s Jim Crow-era South sparked Wilson native Tyatti Speight’s interest in creating worlds with her words.
“I always gravitated to words,” Speight said. “I was so fascinated to see what he wrote just by reading his words.”
Speight said her parents, particularly her father, encouraged her to be a strong reader and communicator. Her dad’s stories about growing up in the South during the 1950s and ’60s deeply influenced her own storytelling.
“He made sure I was good at saying what I needed to say,” Speight said. “I took things that my dad said and my mother said about writing and about life, and I applied that to my writing.”
Speight began using her own words, writing short stories, poetry and prose. Online, she found writing groups and a community of like-minded people. She began submitting and having her work published in anthologies and short story collections.
Now a screenwriter, Speight is working to bring her words to life on big and small screens.
“I can really write and create this space where I basically have so much control over the world. I can create a whole other world that I can immerse myself in, and I can be whoever, do whatever and see whatever,” Speight said.
Speight said one of the things that strengthened her as a screenwriter was actually taking a break from writing for intense self-study.
“All I did was read screenplays. I would download them. I would read them, and I would study them, and I would learn. I couldn’t afford to go to art school, so I said, ‘OK, I’m just going to figure this out myself.’”
Speight also used several applications and online tutorials to learn how to structure her screenplays. Going this route instead of attending a traditional school, she said, has given her a greater appreciation of what she has learned.
“You can go to school for anything, and you can quit at any time. But when you’re self-taught, I don’t want to feel like I wasted my own time. By teaching myself, I appreciate it more, and I respect it a lot more.”
Speight has just completed writing her first feature film, “The Fatal Signature,” a thriller about an artist who has the power to make her work come to life by signing her name to it. She is now working on financing the making of the film and having it distributed.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” Speight said. “The writing part is the easy part. Now, the work begins. You have to find someone who believes in what you’re doing, to say, ‘I want to help you.’”
Speight said that her goals are big because she dreams big. She said that sometimes being in a small town, people don’t always see that it is possible to achieve big goals, and she had to learn to discuss her goals with people who also dream big.
“I stopped talking about it. Not everyone will think as big as I do. Not everyone will see the dream that I have. My dreams are for me, and I had to learn to preserve them,” Speight said.