MARSHALL - Look out Oprah, Alaina is in town.
Alaina L. Lewis said she wants to be as successful as Oprah Winfrey. Lewis, journalist, a film producer and screenwriter gave a presentation, "Black Journalism," Thursday afternoon as a part of Black History Month activities at Southwest Minnesota State University.
"I'm the only in my peer group, not just as a journalist, but as an African-American filmmaker," she said. "So being black helps me stand out."
Photo by Karin Elton
Alaina L. Lewis, a journalist, film producer and screenwriter, was one of the speakers Thursday at Southwest Minnesota State?University for Black History Month.
Lewis, who lives in Minneapolis, wrote "as a kid," she said. "The protagonist in my novel would be who I always wanted to be."
She finished her first novel at the age of 15.
"It was called 'Killer in the Night,'" she said.
A chance meeting with the writer of "Mighty Ducks 3," led her to work on that movie, but it was there that she realized that it was behind the scenes where the power was.
"Actors are just a tool for the writer," she said.
After high school, Lewis worked at the post office delivering mail, which was a good job, but she felt she was missing something, she wasn't fulfilling the dreams she has as a child.
While delivering the latest installment of the Harry Potter series, she thought, "I don't want to spend the rest of my life delivering other people's books - I'm a writer, too."
Lewis said she "didn't want to be mediocre, I didn't want to be a person who, because I'm afraid, because life happens that I'm not going to go out and do something for myself."
She started a blog, one that only her friends read, but it got her writing.
She soon got herself a gig - unpaid - writing CD reviews at Yo! Raps Magazine which led to her becoming senior writer. She interviewed actor Tyrese Gibson, about his upcoming movie, "Transformers III."
That interview transformed her career and her life. Her career "took off," she said. She also gleaned a lot of words of wisdom from Gibson. He told her about something actor Will Smith had said about succeeding in life.
"If you want to change your life you have to change your circle of friends," she said. "If the five people around you aren't doing the things that you want, then you won't either. Energy is contagious. If they have no plan or goal, they're not going to talk with you about goals. Unfortunately negative overpowers the positive. If they're not on the same path as you, you have to snip those people out."
Lewis said she had friends who told her that her dreams would never happen and "don't quit the post office."
She wrote a piece for the online magazine, Clutch, titled "Top 15 Reasons Why People Hate Beyonce" which became extremely popular, she said.
"Now I know what it means to 'go viral,'" Lewis said. "Within a few hours, it was all over the Web. USA Today posted it, the L.A. Times, websites..."
Having a Tyrese Gibson interview and the Beyonce piece on her resume, gave her entree to other high profile interviews including the cast of "The Last Airbender," the cast of "Twilight," Nick Cannon and 50 Cent.
Lewis said she has no formal journalistic background and doesn't write like a journalist.
"I don't just deliver the facts like journalists do," she said. "I write with passion. I want people to say, 'oh, that's beautiful,' I want to be poetic. That's what sets me apart."
But even after all that success, Lewis said she realized she still felt unfulfilled.
"You only get as far as the arrows you throw," she said. "If you only throw arrows one way, that's the only place you'll go."
Wanting to broaden the means of expressing herself, she then went back to school for film with an emphasis on screenwriting. She is currently working on a web series called "The Flipside of My Pane" a compilation of short films that "tell of a different view of the world outside your window," she said.