By Tracie Isaac –
Local author, Karen Ward-Wilder is holding auditions locally for a television pilot based on her current book Jack Wentworth – The Real Belt. Youth and adults recently participated in auditions held at RCTV studios at 20 Gorham Street.
Ward-Wilder, who writes books to help children navigate life, published “Jack Wentworth – The Real Belt” two years ago in response to young people experiencing issues like bullying and racism.
With a background in counseling in city and suburban schools, Ward-Wilder wanted to find a way to share solutions to issues that affect many people especially the youth. She has worked with at-risk youth, parents that have dropped out of high school, gang members and gained a wide range of experiences from working as a counselor. In order to appeal to a wide audience, Ward-Wilder says she aimed to create characters that appeal to everyday families and real life situations that anyone can see themselves in.
“Most youth feel they cannot speak to their parents or find it difficult to tell someone when they are being bullied, abused or have experienced racism by an adult,” she said. “Young people love television and I wanted to show a visual in a creative way that would reach a wider audience and present issues that are happening nationally with solutions, along with various adults that young people can reach out to for help and how to discuss what is going on in their lives.
Jack Wentworth – The Real Belt is the third book written by Ward-Wilder. The first book title is The Kings Men which is also a play by the author. She is also planning a six part series of books that relate to each other with a biblical reference.
Ward-Wilder pointed out that there are various new inexpensive options to cable like Netflix and Hulu or YouTube which is free, where audiences can find relevant shows for young people of color that are educational and have meaning in their lives. “That’s what I want to do with this television series. Television programs are meant to be entertaining but it is important for there to be a meaningful message. Bullying and racism are issues that reach many audiences and my message is to reach inside of yourself and tap into your inner strength to know who you are and that you can overcome situations and not allow people to treat you in a demeaning way,” she continued.
Ward-Wilder says her series will reflect on incidents of students being harassed or bullied and other circumstances where a young person might be afraid to tell someone what occurred.
Ward-Wilder hopes to convey the following messages:
* A child can feel helpless and not know how to speak up for themselves. It is important that children learn that no one, not even an adult can speak to you in a manner that hurts emotionally.
* We have to give a voice to the voiceless.
* Words and images are very powerful. We need to be aware that how we speak to our children at home and in public.
* The images that we allow our children to wear, such as graphic designs with images of animals or words can send the wrong message.
* Negative words and images are not befitting the image of who we really are as people.
* When a child encounters a situation that could be the result of a negative image, they should be able to say “you cannot speak to me that way”, or “I am a human being not an animal.” This is not disrespectful but a way of letting anyone know that a child can stand up for themselves in a positive and confident way.
Casting for Jack Wentworth – The Real Belt is still open for all roles. Auditions or performance clips can be submitted via video. The community is invited to participate for various roles including extras, production assistants and even donations are welcome.
Ward-Wilder is creating a pilot in hopes of getting the show on some national platforms.
For more information visit the website at karenwardwilder.org.