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Monique Matthews

New Yorker adds touch of magic to her gritty stories

Age: 30

Birthplace: Harlem, New York

Repped by: Shauna Eddy at UTA; Shawn Hopkins at AMG

The film that changed her life: “Star Wars”

Worst advice/studio note ever received: “Make it ‘bigger.’ What the heck does that mean?”

A proud Harlem native and a lover of hip-hop culture, Monique Matthews’ fascination with writing about people was fostered during her Thursday afternoon trips to the movies with her father.

“You’d get to be around so many different kinds of people, but that same energy was being shared,” recalls the 1999 winner of the Independent Feature Project/West Screenwriting Lab contest.

These days, her star is rising fast in the screenwriting world. Her latest project, “Urban Nanny,” is being developed for Lisa Bonet at Disney.

The up-and-comer, who holds two degrees in sociology from UCLA, says she gravitated toward entertainment journalism and screenwriting because she “was trying to figure out a way to write for a living in a way my parents would think was legitimate.”

Matthews says she wanted to write her urban fairy tale because she got the chance to tell a story that “was set in some kind of hood, but didn’t involved drugs, active violence or guns.”

The writer, who lives in Los Angeles these days, stresses the importance of including minority voices in Hollywood.

“When you don’t know people, you have these cardboard cutouts, these stereotypes,” she says. “Humanism puts a face with emotions. You learn how people live, how people bleed, how people live their lives.”

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