Exclusive Interview "Mykell Barlow"
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in writing.
I have always loved writing. Even before I could write I always had stories bursting out of me. My mother likes to remind me of how much I would ramble on and on about the things my imagination would fashion. As a child, I would write plays and comic strips for my family to read and perform. I spent my college and post college years as a singer/songwriter with further developed my writing. It was my music that eventually gave me the opportunity to move to Los Angeles where I found myself in screenwriting classes. I have fallen in love with the art of screenwriting.
How would you describe “202 The Series” to someone who has never seen it?
202 is a short form dramedy that follows the tenants of apartment 202 as they struggle to make their dreams come true all while figuring out how to pay rent. Lola, Nya, Dwight, and Stephen navigate through new love, daunting careers, and the messiness of being 20something and not having life figured out. It’s funny, true to life, and completely relatable for anyone living through the dramas of making their dreams a reality.
What was the inspiration behind “202 The Series”? Are any of the episodes based on your own personal life experiences?
Honestly, I just wanted to make something that captured what we go through trying to make a career in the arts. I think all to often the reality of this life is shadowed by the glamor that is often portrayed in the media and social media. 202 is filled with real life experiences my friends and I have seen or lived through trying to “make it” in our industries. Addictions, unplanned pregnancies, romantic encounters and the fallout of said encounters, industry rejection, feelings of loneliness and hopelessness…some part of it can be found in the stories of even your most well-known celebrity.
What was the writing process like for the series? Did you write each episode one at a time or did you write them together?
With any of my work, before I write a word I spend a good amount of time getting to know the characters. Who are they? What are their temperaments? Why are they the way they are? What is the story they want to tell? I like to see myself as more of a conduit between the story the character wants to tell and the audience.
With 202, I initially wrote the pilot episode and an outline of where I wanted the season and the series to go. Once we got started with production I would take mini writing retreats to write and rewrite a cluster of episodes, usually 2-3, at a time.
Tell us about your casting process. How did you go about it?
All of our amazing cast are friends that myself or the other producers, Malynda Hale and Justin Patten, have worked with on previous projects. We called in people that we felt naturally embodied these characters. Malynda Hale plays Nya, Tia Robinson is Lola, Lyonel Reneau is Dwight, and Harry Holmes is Stephen and they are phenomenal in these roles.
What has been the fan reaction to the series so far?
People are loving the series and look forward to new episodes every Thursday. The funny thing is, I don’t think our audience was expecting it to be as well done as it is. We surprised a lot of viewers with the quality of acting, writing, and overall production. When the pilot came out, I had someone leave their job and show up at my apartment just to tell me how amazing the show was and that she felt like she was watching an actual television show. I replied “it is.”
Why did you decide to produce your work independently on the web?
If you want to be seen as a writer you MUST write. If you want to be seen as a producer you MUST produce. If you want to be seen as a creator you MUST CREATE. This is my mantra. Producing some of my work independently on the web was the simplest and more effective way to live out my mantra. I do not believe in waiting for doors to magically open. I desire to create opportunities for myself and others to live out our dreams. As more and more people have seen my work online, it has created more opportunities for me to write and produce my own content as well as write and produce with other industry colleagues.
What are your future plans for “202 The Series”? Would you want to develop it into a TV series at some point, or do you feel its home is on the web?
While there is a plan to develop 202 into a full blown TV series, I do like the idea of it being at home online. I would love for the series to find a place on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon. My dream would be for it to be picked up by a cable network like HBO. There are a lot less restrictions on where I can take their stories when writing for a cable network.
For anyone trying to get into film making, or screen play writing what tips do you have for them?
Just do it. The thing I wish someone would have told me earlier in life is to just create. Stop waiting around for someone to give you an opportunity or a chance. If you really want to write then write. If you really want to be a filmmaker then make a film with your friends and the resources you have around you. 202 is made in Malynda’s apartment with friends, a camera we already had, and inexpensive lighting. But the thing is, we are making something we love! Even if your first attempts are terrible you can say that you have begun. You can start to see yourself as a screenwriter, a filmmaker, or whatever you are aspiring to be.
A lot of people never move passed the “getting started mark”. The first draft is the hardest part. Once you get the idea on paper just keep going.
What’s next for Mykell? What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I started a production Company with the director of 202, Justin Patten, called “A Great Adventure Productions.” We are in pre production for two television pilots, one of which I co-wrote with Justin called “DELIVER-ANTS.” We are also producing another webseries I am writing and creating called “SKIDS”, a drama that follows the teens of a homeless camp on the fringes of Los Angeles. There are two short films we have written that we hope to produce this year. We will return in the fall with season 2 of everyone’s favorite new webseries 202. I am also SLOWLY adapting a book I was writing into a feature film screenplay in the middle of everything so the rest of 2017 is going to be a busy one. I love it!
202” is a brand new dramedy that details how complicated life can get when you are chasing your dreams. Follow the three tenants of apartment 202, Nya, Lola, and Dwight, as they deal with the drama of life, addiction, new love, and paying rent. The series is created by Mykell and directed by JUSTIN PATTEN “202” premiered February 2, 2017 with a brand new episode every Thursday at 2:02 pm PST.
Nya, played by MALYNDA HALE, is an aspiring singer/songwriter who often finds herself as the mediator of the other roommates. She is strong and opinionated but she struggles with getting her career off the ground and falls into addiction.
Lola, played by TIA ROBINSON, is a dancer who spends more time as a cocktail waitress than actually dancing. She is the Nya’s childhood best friend and her more fragile demeanor is often overpowered by Nya’s strong opinions.
Dwight, played by LYONEL RENEAU, is the newest roommate and brings with him an air of mystery and a whole lot of sass. Despite his quick witted attitude, he cares deeply for his roommates and is always looking out for them.
Stephen, played by HARRY HOLMES, is Lola’s boyfriend and always seems to be hanging around the apartment. He has a volatile history with Dwight that causes some friction but ultimately Stephen is the most kind-hearted and naïve one in the group.
This series is for anyone who relates to the pain of pursuing your dreams, whatever they may be. Anything worthwhile takes time, persistence, and commitment. As the tenants of 202 will show you, getting there is messy, funny, and the people you meet along the way will change you forever.
For more information contact Mykell at (818) 940-1242. To catch past episodes visit our website www.youtube.com/202theseries
To keep up with Mykell’s journey follow him on Instagram and twitter @officialmykell
Meet the creator "Mykell Barlow":
Mykell is an actor and writer from Atlanta, GA. He spent his teenage and college years as a singer/songwriter and was given the opportunity to perform on stages from Los Angeles to Bangkok Thailand. He released an acoustic EP which included his first single "New Stage". This song and the music video (shot with a single hand cam by director, Justin Patten) got Mykell a starring role alongside Mike "The Situation" in a web series called New Stage (titled after his single of the same name). The track was also the theme song for the series. After this experience Mykell released a full length album,completely reinvented himself, and then moved to Los Angeles California to put all his effort into making his dreams a reality. He finished 6th in the reality show called "Take The Stage" where the contestants are mentored by super music manager Johnny Wright (manager of Justin Timberlake, Jonas, Ciara, Akon, Janet Jackson)and Grammy winning songwriter/producer Rodney "Dark Child" Jerkins. Over the last few years Mykell began taking workshops, writing classes, and experiencing various opportunities to write and perform. He has written short films, web series, TV pilots, and he is currently developing a feature film. He recently created a web series called "202" with each episode written entirely by him. New episodes air online every Thursday.