For #BlackHistoryMonth PBS Kids went behind the scenes of their favourite shows to meet the grownups who make them possible!
On Monday, February 25th Brown Bag Toronto screenwriter Desmond Sargaent, who is currently working on our newest series Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, took over the PBS Kids Instagram account and gave followers a glimpse into his daily life.
We took advantage of this exciting opportunity and chatted with Desmond to learn more about his role, what it's like working on a fun new PBS series and why #BlackHistoryMonth is important to him.
How did you get started in your role?
Desmond: I began writing as a hobby while I was teenager. At first I was interested in telling stories in comic book form, then I discovered script-writing. My first job was working at a screenwriting agency. I sent a few samples until I was hired on my first kids TV show.
What's it like working on a PBS series?
Desmond: I grew up watching PBS. I have a tremendous amount of respect and nostalgia for their kids programming, which was so impactful on my upbringing. The opportunity to be a part of the PBS legacy was a dream come true. Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum is exactly the kind of show I would have watched when I was younger. It's funny, smart, educational, and has a ton of heart, all things I look to bring into my own writing. I could not have asked for a better match.
Can you give us a taste of your experience working on Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum?
Desmond: It's great for me because I'm constantly learning new things with every episode. The show focuses on important historical figures, so with each script, I'm given a great deal of information from the studio as well as do my own additional research and discovery about our subjects. It requires a lot of attention to detail and working long hours, but it's a great deal of fun to come up with stories, gags and jokes that will hopefully be enjoyed by the audience.
What do you like best about your role?
Desmond: It gives me the chance to be creative for a living!
What type of interests, abilities, and skills would help a person to be successful as a scriptwriter?
Desmond: Having a lot of creativity and a big imagination. Strong writing and language skills to communicate your ideas verbally and on paper. An interest in writing, storytelling, film or art.
What advice do you have for someone interested in your job?
Desmond: A great way to start is to tell a story that is personal and close to you. Keep writing, because the more you do the better you will get. The main goal at first is just to get to the end of the story you want to tell. You can always go back and make it better—getting your story told beginning to end is a milestone all on its own. Keep positive when you get stuck, it's OK to take a break.
As you know February is #BlackHistoyMonth, can you tell us why it's important to you?
Desmond: I think it gives us the opportunity to gain knowledge about people and moments in time that may otherwise go unrecognized. It allows us the chance to celebrate some very monumental accomplishments both from the past and present day.
If you could use your skill to make a show about any Black historical figure, who would it be? Why?
Desmond: The Tuskegee Airmen. They have an incredible story of breaking down barriers and facing oppression with bravery. From a visual standpoint, a TV show about pilots would be very exciting with a lot of cool action based scenes.