Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate these various personalities with us.
Today, meet the extraordinary Cheril N. Clarke. She is a multi-faceted writer whose body of work encompasses a unique blend of creative and business writing. Beginning her career 20 years ago as a creative writer, she has since written five novels, several short stories, multiple children’s books, and award-winning stage plays.
Cheril has five novels to her name including Intimate Chaos, Tainted Destiny, and Losing Control. Alongside fiction, Clarke had also written a non-fiction book, Love and Romance: The Gay and Lesbian Guide to Dating and Romance, and a collection of erotic vignettes entitled Illusions of Love.
She is also the author of a short story series entitled The Beautiful People and a novelette entitled The Edge of Bliss. Her third novel, Intimate Chaos, has been adapted into a play of the same name and has been mounted in Bordentown, New Jersey, Plainfield, New Jersey and twice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Cheril has been featured in numerous publications and media outlets, including National Public Radio (NPR), Curve Magazine, The Princeton Packet, Out IN Jersey, The Philadelphia Women’s Journal, The Atlanta Business Chronicle, and more. She is also a ghostwriter and speechwriter for executives and entrepreneurs worldwide.
What did You Originally Want to be When You Grow Up? I think I wanted to be a physical therapist (briefly), but by the time I was ending eleventh grade I knew I wanted to be a creative writer.
How did You Get into Writing? Head first. I dove write in by writing poetry collections and my first novel by the age of 19. I’ve always worked independently because I wanted to control timelines and artistic vision of my projects.
Who were/are Your Mentors? Though we don’t have a relationship now, my mentor for producing live theatre was Stephen Stahl. For fiction, I greatly admired E. Lynn Harris. He actually sent me a package with a book and info on how to be a great novelist a long time ago. It was so kind because he was in such high demand at that point in his career. I don’t have a mentor for film, but there are some incredible directors whose work I admire. Tina Mabry immediately comes to mind, and of course, Ava DuVerney.
What is Your Biggest Achievement? Having my second stage play win the Audience Choice award at the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival in NYC.
What is Your Biggest Disappointment? My relationship with my first mentor ending on a sour note.
Name Your Biggest Pet Peeves? Lack of attention to detail in productions. Also, people who constantly want others to work for free. I hate that. Everyone deserves to be paid for their contribution to a production—even if it’s a small stipend.
Predictions for the Entertainment Industry Over the Next Decade: I think the diversity in film and live theatre is going to continue to widen and deepen. More unique stories are going to be told, and thanks to technology, those stories have the potential to reach global audiences!
Name a Job You had that Would Surprise People: I worked at PayLess shoes when I was in high school. To this day I organize my shoes by heel height and color. I’m not sure if that was the rule at PayLess, but working their made me very particular about closet organization.
Who Plays You in Your Life Story? Jada Pinkett Smith.
What Marvel or DC Superhero do You Get to Play? Black Widow. She’s super smart and outwits others.
What do You Wish You had More Time to do? Read the great works of others.
What Drives You to be Extraordinary at What You do? A deep desire to dissect love, passion, and intimate connections between people. I love, love and know that everyone is in search of ways to master it for themselves. I want to spark conversations and drive ideas to accomplish that.