Franchesca Ramsey, also known as Chescaleigh, is an American comedian, activist, television, and YouTube personality, and actress who has appeared on MTV and MSNBC. Join Michael Jamin and Francheca as they explore her path to success, lessons learned, and what it takes to make it in Hollywood.
Franchesca Ramsey’s Personal Site – https://www.franchesca.net/
Franchesca Ramsey on Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franchesca_Ramsey
Franchesca Ramsey on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/chescaleigh/
Franchesca Ramsey on TikTok – https://www.tiktok.com/@franchesca_leigh
Franchesca Ramsey on Twitter – https://twitter.com/chescaleigh
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Franchesca Ramsey (00:00:00):
No. You, you never, you never know. And, you know, on the topic of Nose and Failures, I went to the red carpet for the Emmy’s in 2008 and I swore that was gonna be my big break. I thought, I was like, I’m never going back to the chamber. Like I, I remember my boss.
Michael Jamin (00:00:15):
So you went as what?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:00:17):
As I was a red carpet reporter for.com. Oh yeah. I was on the red carpet. I interviewed like Kathy Griffin and Neil Patrick Harris. And I sang with Josh Groin. Like I had the best time. Right. And then I had to fly back to Florida and go to work. And I was heartbroken. I thought I was gonna get an agent. I thought I was gonna, I just thought like, this is it. I’m, I’m making it. And I did not make it.
Michael Jamin (00:00:42):
You’re listening to Screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.
Hey everyone, it’s Michael Jamin. Welcome back to another episode of Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I have a wonderful special guest today and she’s extremely inspiring. And if you want to be a screenwriter, you need to hear how this woman broke in because it floored me. I’m here with Franchesca Ramsey and she has all, she’s a multi-talented person cause she’s an actor or writer performer. But she started as a YouTuber.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:01:13):
I started on the internet. It’s honestly, it still blows my mind when I say it. But the internet opened so many doors for me and I could not be more proud of the career that it’s helped me build.
Michael Jamin (00:01:26):
And you have so much. But I think what’s most, like, I wanna talk about all your successes, but to me, what I really interested by are all the failures that led up to your
Franchesca Ramsey (00:01:35):
Michael Jamin (00:01:36):
<Laugh>. Cause this is not overnight. No. that you made it.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:01:39):
No, absolutely not. And I really try to be transparent about those things because I know how it is when you’re on the other side and you’re watching people have all of these wins and you’re comparing yourself to them and you’re suing that everything is going their way. And the reality is, more oftentimes than not, there are so many nos behind the scene before they got to the yeses that you’re getting to watch and experience. Right. So I, I’ve had a lot of them. <Laugh>,
Michael Jamin (00:02:09):
We’re gonna go through ’em, but lemme just tell everyone how we met. Cuz we only met on, on Friday. On Friday. I’m not big on Twitter, but I checked it for some reason, fate told me to check it. And someone had tagged me in a tweet saying, there are two screenwriters you need to follow me and you and your your, your Twitter is tr is is Cheche
Franchesca Ramsey (00:02:26):
Michael Jamin (00:02:27):
Chely. Which is, which is Lee’s probably your middle name.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:02:29):
Lee is my middle name. Yeah.
Michael Jamin (00:02:31):
Okay. And so they tagged me and you and I, I didn’t know you, so I was like, oh, look at her. And I clicked on your link and then I, and I realized, oh, what, you got a huge following and you have some interesting, you talk about interesting things. So I follow you. And then later that day, literally that day, I’m picketing cuz run, strike the Disney lot. And then you call out to me cuz you recognized me.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:02:49):
Yeah. Oh my God. I mean, I, I mean I, so I started following you on TikTok. It’s been a while. I’m still pretty new to TikTok. I think I’ve only been on there like a year. I’d begrudgingly joined. I was one of those mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. and so there’s not a lot of TV people on there. Right. And the thing that I was saying to you at the Disney lot was, I appreciate that you have demystified the, the process and the business because there are a lot of people who love and enjoy television, talking about the business, and yet they have never worked in the business. And you come from a place of, yeah, I have sold shows. I’ve worked in hit series. I, you know, you’ve done so many things. And just being able to see someone who knows what they’re talking about, but again, is making it accessible, is really inspiring. And it really is in line with the ethos of my work.
Michael Jamin (00:03:39):
And and you do all of that. I wanna talk about, jeez. Well, actually, actually, I should probably say how everyone knows you. Okay. Yes. You’ve done a ton. You first of all, you were a correspondent on the Nightly Show with, with Larry Wilmore, who Yes. It’s funny I know so many writers and he, I, I think of him as a sitcom writer because he’s written, he’s a writer. Yeah. But he’s also a performer’s. Like you’re singing yourself. He’s a multi-talented person, but also decoded on m comedy Central. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>
Franchesca Ramsey (00:04:05):
Mtv. Mtv. Decoded. Oh,
Michael Jamin (00:04:06):
Mtv. Yeah. Okay. I, Carly, which you did one season on Yeah.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:04:09):
The reboot. I, yeah, I did the first season of the reboot.
Michael Jamin (00:04:12):
Right. And that must have been, oh, I don’t wanna talk about that. Yeah,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:04:16):
Michael Jamin (00:04:16):
We’ll talk about that. We’re gonna get into all that. You, you wrote for the Oscars in 2020. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> you were, you were recurring on superstores an actor, right?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:04:24):
I was, yeah. I was recurring, recurring for 12 episodes in season six.
Michael Jamin (00:04:28):
Wow. That’s, that’s, that’s,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:04:29):
Yeah. And I did that and I did that while I was a writer, producer on iCarly. So I had They didn’t let you leave? They did let me leave. And I had many a times that I was on set at five o’clock in the morning to shoot, to go to shoot a superstore. And then I still had to get my outline and on time <laugh>, and I did it. Oh my God.
Michael Jamin (00:04:51):
But, but Oh, and but you started mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, even before this, you had a, you had a viral video Yeah. That went on YouTube.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:04:58):
Yeah. So I, I started making YouTube videos when I was in college. Not to date myself Right. But my senior year of college, YouTube was founded and I started making YouTube videos. And I had my very first viral video in 2012, which was Shit, white Girls Say to Black
Michael Jamin (00:05:15):
Girls. Oh, you started, but you didn’t start in 2012.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:05:17):
When did you start? No, I started in, I started in 2006.
Michael Jamin (00:05:20):
And then, right. So you had many, you did years of not making viral
Franchesca Ramsey (00:05:25):
Videos. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I was working as a graphic designer. I worked I worked in beauty and fashion mostly. So I worked at Maybelline, I worked in the package department. I was Photoshopping eyelashes on packages. The mascara does not make your eyelashes that long. <Laugh>, that was me. And then I also worked at Anne Taylor and I was working at Ann Taylor when I went viral in 2012.
Michael Jamin (00:05:50):
But did you not, did you, like when you were in high school, in college, did you want, I mean, guess, did you wanna
Franchesca Ramsey (00:05:55):
Be a writer performer? Yeah, no, actually I wanted to be an actor. I went to a performing arts middle and high school. There are a number of alumni from my high school. The person that most people know is Eric Andre. He’s a comedian. Right. He was a year older than me. And there are a lot of us from my high school that are still in the business. And I went to college for acting. I went to the University of Michigan, but I left largely because I was struggling after losing my acting scholarship. I had a scholarship my first year, my second year I didn’t. And I got a job. Did
Michael Jamin (00:06:26):
They, could you a scholarship for only one year? Is
Franchesca Ramsey (00:06:28):
That how works? Well, it was so it was not a need-based scholarship, meaning that it was not based on your parents’ income. It was a talent based scholarship. So I auditioned for the school. I got a scholarship my first year. And then after that, the whole faculty voted on who got the scholarship. And because I was only a sophomore, I didn’t know everybody. So most of the people that got the scholarship the next year were like juniors and seniors. So I was working part-time at school. I worked for the School of Public Health. I was working on their website. I was a self-taught designer had a bootleg of Photoshop and I’d gone to H T M L camp in middle school. And so I was like uploading files and shit, and I was getting paid 20 bucks an hour. And I was like, yo, this is it. I was like, maybe I should be a graphic designer. <Laugh>. So I left Michigan, moved back to Florida, which is where I’m from, and went to design school and was Oh, really? Studying graphic design. Yeah. And, you know, just I always kept a blog. I’d had a website since middle school. And when YouTube came out, I was like, yo, this is, this is really neat. But
Michael Jamin (00:07:34):
This was just cuz you wanted personal expression.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:07:37):
Yeah. I just thought it was cool. I’d always, I was on live journal and I had dreadlocks at the time, and so I was always like taking photos of my hairstyles and like doing tutorials and just writing about my daily life. I mean, before, before there were digital cameras, I had like a scanner. And so I would go and get my photos developed and then I would scan them and I would post them on my little website. And it was just, I’ve always been a journaler. I’ve always like really loved, like just keeping track of my life. I am an only child, so I, I just like, I, that’s just always been my form of expression. And so when YouTube came out, I felt like it was the perfect combination of all the things I was already interested in. Right. So I started making YouTube videos in 2006.
Michael Jamin (00:08:21):
But, and some of those, cause I went, I I scrolled down. You got a long list.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:08:24):
Yeah. I have so many <laugh>.
Michael Jamin (00:08:26):
And some of them were just like, oh, here’s, here’s how I do my hair. And here’s like, yeah. But then you started venturing off into more scripted, you know,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:08:33):
Compliment stuff. Yeah. I mean, so honestly what happened was I was watching Eric become a successful standup, and I remember him calling me and him saying, there are no black girls in New York doing standup. And I was like, really? And he was like, yeah. Oh my, this is my bad Eric. He’s like, yeah, yeah, yeah. You got it. You got you. They’re so funny. You should be doing this. And I was like, oh, I don’t know. Like, I’ve never done standup. Right. And so I got a copy of the Comedy Bible, which is a great book that I recommend. Okay. And I used it to write my first standup set and was doing comedy in, in Miami and was making sketches and trying to promote my comedy career via YouTube. And
Michael Jamin (00:09:14):
Was that working? I mean,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:09:15):
Yeah, it was. I mean, I was, it’s so interesting because where we are with social media is just like, it just feels so accessible now. But like back in my day, I didn’t know anyone that had a website. Right. And I had business cards that had my website, my YouTube on them, and I would go to comedy shows and I would say like, oh, you should watch my YouTube channel and like, get on my email list. And, you know, when I would do competitions at the Hollywood Improv, like I would send out emails and I would say, please come to my shows. And did people I Yeah, they did, they did
Michael Jamin (00:09:51):
Come. So these are your fans would come basically people who were on your email list? Just
Franchesca Ramsey (00:09:55):
People that I would, I would, I would, if you met me somewhere, I was asking you to be on my email list. Really. And after I graduated college, I got a job as the communications manager at the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. So I was doing all of their graphics and PR stuff. And so I was learning how to write press releases. And so like, I was using that to build my online community for my YouTube channel. Right. And I, yeah. And I entered a YouTube contest in 2008, I guess. Yeah. 2008. It was the Red Carpet Reporter contest. Really? And I went to the Emmy’s. Yeah. And I I You,
Michael Jamin (00:10:33):
You entered and you won?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:10:34):
I entered and I won. And I, I <laugh>, I really used the things I learned at the Chamber. Like I sent out a press release about myself, <laugh>, to like, local news. And news was on like my local news. Wow. I threw a party so people would vote for me. Like <laugh>.
Michael Jamin (00:10:52):
So this is like, it was a lot. Cause so many people say, well, you know, how do I get an agent? How do I, people expect agents, managers, producers to make their career. And that’s not what you are doing. No,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:11:03):
Michael Jamin (00:11:03):
You’re doing it yourself and you’re not asking for permission, you’re doing it.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:11:07):
No, I, working at the Chamber was really eye-opening for me because I learned so much about the power of networking. Right. I always had business cards. Every time I would meet someone like a tip that I learned was I would keep a little sharpie in my bag and I would write a interesting tidbit about them on their, on their business card. And then I would email them and I would talk about something that they had said to me. So like, if you said, oh, I gotta leave for my kid’s soccer game, I would email you and I’d say, it was really great meeting you at the, the Coffee with the President event. I hope your kid, you know, killed the soccer game. You know, some, just something like that. And then people would be like, oh my gosh, she was so thoughtful. Like, yeah.
Michael Jamin (00:11:44):
But these are people who you, you don’t, are are these people that you think that can help you? Like, who are these people you’re meeting that you want their business card, that you wanna wanna email them? No, they’re
Franchesca Ramsey (00:11:52):
Not, they’re not people that I think can help me. Like, I, I just think of it as, you know, when you meet someone and you connect with them, it’s not necessarily that they’re gonna help you get further mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But like, if, if we have a connection and we like each other, like maybe there’s a world in which we work together, or Yeah. I’ve got this, I’m doing this contest and I need as many votes as possible. And I met you at an event and we got along, or I’m doing standup now and I’m like, Hey, you know, remember I was kind of funny when we met, like come to the standup,
Michael Jamin (00:12:22):
But how often would you, if you met, I don’t know, let’s say, I don’t know how many people we’ve met in a month, let’s say it’s a dozen. How often are you contacting them to stay in touch to let them know they’re
Franchesca Ramsey (00:12:32):
Live? So I was, so, so again, I was working at the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, which is a membership organization for small businesses. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And we would put together events. We had a weekly coffee with our president every Friday. We had dinner galas, we had golf tournaments. We would go to like, opening of businesses. Like we were doing events all the time. And at every event I was just like, hi, hey, nice to meet you. And I was just meeting as many people as possible and I was doing some of this on Company Jam. I was sending emails and being like, Hey, I met you at this event, can I put you on my email list? You know? Right. so
Michael Jamin (00:13:06):
I How did you get to be so smart about this though? I mean, like, like did someone teach you this or is this like, I’ll just gonna, I like this
Franchesca Ramsey (00:13:11):
Idea. I, I will say I learned a lot from the Chamber because we had we had like a women’s group and we had like a young professionals group. And because I worked at the Chamber, I was there for all of these events. And I will also add, this was my first job outta college. I am still friends with the people I worked with at the Chamber. I’m still friends with the members that, you know, I met when I did my book tour in 2018, I was able to do it at a bookstore that was one of the members of the chamber when I, you know, I was like trying to get something together. And the bookstore was like, yes, we will absolutely buy copies of your book. We remember you. Right. And right. And it’s, I think oftentimes people think about networking for like, these selfish, you know, I’m gonna move forward.
Right. But if you come from a genuine place of just getting to know people and, and showing real interest, my dad always says, be interested. Not interesting. Right. Actually, just like getting to know people and connect with them, you will find that people are like, yeah, you know what? I could throw you five books. You know what? I got a place that you can host a comedy show a actually I will buy a book. Like, people wanna help you. And I was really fortunate I got that job not knowing what it was. And I say all the time, it really like laid the foundation for me when it came to the power of networking and that people like who, you know, really does help you get ahead. But it also enriches your life and your career.
Michael Jamin (00:14:38):
But how else did it help you knowing any of these people later? Like how, how else did it, you know, materially Okay. I get, yes, you had a and you could, you could do a signing at the store, but how else did it help you?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:14:50):
I think just helped me to see people that like believed in me. You know, when it was time for me to have comedy shows and stuff. And especially there’s so many places where you have to ha bring 10 people. Oh, okay. You, you, you gotta do a bringer show if you’re gonna get on stage. And so, you know, kind of corralling my email list to get people to come and support me when I did that YouTube contest and I needed people to vote for me. Right. I, there was a member who had a nightclub and so I threw a party at the nightclub and it was genuinely me just being like, can I throw a party here? And they were like, yeah, no problem. Your, are your friends gonna buy drinks? Right? Yes. <Laugh>. So I set up little laptops and I had people voting for me at the party and Wow. And I, and I won the contest.
Michael Jamin (00:15:35):
So these are just so small, little, little unexpected ways that just pay that just pay off. But you don’t know how or when
Franchesca Ramsey (00:15:41):
Yeah. Pay off. No, you, you never, you never know. And, you know, on the topic of knows and failures, I went to the red carpet for the Emmy’s in 2008 and I swore that was gonna be my big break. I thought, I was like, I’m never going back to the chamber. Like I, I remember my boss. Well
Michael Jamin (00:15:57):
You went as what? As
Franchesca Ramsey (00:15:59):
I was a red carpet reporter for people.com. Oh yeah. I was on the red carpet. I interviewed like Kathy Griffin and Neil Patrick Harris and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I sang with Josh Groin, like I had the best time. Right. And then I had to fly back to Florida and go to work and I was heartbroken. I thought I was gonna get an agent. I thought I was gonna, I just thought like, this is it. I’m, I’m making it. And I did not make it. I went And
Michael Jamin (00:16:24):
How did you get that job to begin with? The, you know, the red carpet shop? I, because you didn’t have an agent?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:16:29):
I, I entered the YouTube contest. So the
Michael Jamin (00:16:31):
Contest that was just from that.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:16:31):
Okay. Yeah. So you had to send in a video of you doing an interview. And I interviewed like my boyfriend at the time and my dog. And then I, you know, I was in the finalist and then I went on the streets of Miami Beach and I just interviewed people. Right. And and then it was voting. So then I, you know, I was doing all, I was hustling to get votes.
Michael Jamin (00:16:50):
It’s so funny cause you are not shy. I mean, no, like, that’s how I met. I mean, right. And good for you and good for you. I mean, who else is gonna advocate for you, if not for yourself? I think people want agents. Like they want an advocate. Well be your own advocate. How
Franchesca Ramsey (00:17:02):
About that? No. Yeah, no, it’s totally true. And look, I, I, I did that red carpet reporter contest and I, you know, I was kind of thrown to the wolves in that nobody was helping me. Right. interview people. They gave me a list of potential celebrities and I watched as many shows that were nominated as possible. I wrote jokes. There was a person under the camera poking me in the leg being like, you gotta hurry it up, wrap it up, wrap it up. I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing. Like, I just was going for it. And I really thought, and my videos were, they were funny, the clips were viral. I was doing great. And then nothing happened. Like, it was it,
Michael Jamin (00:17:39):
Did they ask you back the year later? Or No?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:17:41):
No. Nothing. No. They didn’t even do the contest again. It just, it just was over. I thought people, people.com was like, we loved you. And I was like, great. Do you wanna hire me? And they were like, no, <laugh>,
Michael Jamin (00:17:53):
No. What makes you, why, why would you think we wanna hire you <laugh>?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:17:57):
I was so heartbroken. I moved, I moved to New York the next year, Uhhuh, and I did kind of like the little tour. Like I went to the people offices. I got all dressed up and I was like, remember me? I won that contest. And they were like, yes. When like, what, what do you want? I was like, I, I thought I would get a job. <Laugh>.
Michael Jamin (00:18:14):
Really? Yeah. And so then what happened? So, okay, good, good. <Laugh>, you got, you’re here and then you fell back a couple pegs. That’s fine. And then what happened?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:18:21):
Yeah, so I was kind of pounding the pavement in New York. I did all sorts of jobs. I stuffed envelopes for like a a temp agency. And, you know, I’d gone to school for graph graphic design and I was going to lots of events in New York. Like I went to social Media week in New York. Right. And I met a guy at Social media. He probably was trying to date me in, in hindsight, I had a boyfriend. Right. But I met this guy at Social Media Week and he worked for a creative temp agency. And he was like, oh, well I can help you find a job. And I was like, really? And he was like, yeah. So as this, at this temp agency, I was just doing design for a bunch of different places. So I did some design for the botanical gardens. I had to ride a hour plus train up to the freaking Bronx. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I was, you know, pushing pixels around for the for the botanical garden. I also worked for this place that did like a big book of I guess it was like a, it was like a fashion book that got put out every year. I, I don’t really remember what it was, but I was, you know, just doing a lot of photo editing and stuff. And that’s, and then I got the Maybelline job through a friend.
Michael Jamin (00:19:32):
But that wa I, I wanna, but Okay. But then all the while you’re still putting out YouTube videos, right?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:19:36):
Yeah, I was still making YouTube videos. I was usually like waking up early and editing. I was stealing my neighbor’s wifi so I would upload before I went to work because Uhhuh, that was when nobody was on the internet. Youtube was very slow <laugh> back then. So Yeah. You to like, leave your computer uninterrupted to upload videos
Michael Jamin (00:19:57):
And, but, but pe people were slowly finding you at this point, or no?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:20:01):
Yeah. I mean, I was building a little bit of an audience cuz I was making those hairstyle videos. And remember I had had a website in middle school and high school. Right. So I had, I was building my audience. Like I was in this live journal community called, oh no they didn’t, which was like a gossip community. Uhhuh <affirmative>. So I posted my videos there. I was in a dreadlock community called Get Up, dread Up, and I would post my hair videos there. And, but at
Michael Jamin (00:20:28):
Some point you, you decided to make a leap Cause you you had that one video that went viral.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:20:32):
Yeah, so actually before that, I entered another contest in 2011 called the YouTube Next Up Contest, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And and I won that contest. It was a contest to find like YouTube’s next big stars. Right. And it was me and 25 other people. And we each won $35,000. Nice. And we spent a week at YouTube learning how to like better produce our videos and we got new cameras and
Michael Jamin (00:20:57):
Out here YouTube and, and my, in
Franchesca Ramsey (00:20:59):
New York? In
Michael Jamin (00:21:00):
New York. Oh, New York. Okay. Yeah. You know, my partner and I ran a show by from Renton Link.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:21:04):
Oh, well yeah. I love them.
Michael Jamin (00:21:05):
Yeah. They’re, they had a show, YouTube offered them money, like a lot of money to make a sitcom and they hired us to, to be the right to run.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:21:11):
Oh, cool. Yeah. No, I love, I love them. I was in one of their, I was in the old collab video with them years ago. Oh wow. Yeah. So I got to meet so many YouTubers from that, and actually my current writing partner, I met her through the YouTube. Next up she was a freelance producer at YouTube and they put us in little teams and had us make YouTube videos, Uhhuh. And she and I, she and I really hit it off and we stayed friends. And the, the year after I did next up is when I had my first big viral video. And I really believe that next up taught me a lot about, you know, tentpole content. Like thinking about my content around holidays and special events and trending stories and finding ways to infuse my personal voice. And so I started kind of like changing my content right. Where I was just doing hair stuff. Right. And I was doing random comedy things, just being more focused.
Michael Jamin (00:22:03):
And what was your focus?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:22:04):
Well, my focus was more of looking at trends and finding ways to infuse myself in them uhhuh. And looking at what everybody’s talking about and how can I put my own unique spin on it. Right. And so what happened was, there was a viral video called Shit Girls Say. Right. And it was a guy in a wig just doing a bunch of different things that girls say. And there were lots of parodies. There was like, shit, black girls say shit, moms say shit, dad say, and I was trying to figure out, I was like, I wanna do one, but I don’t know what I wanna do. And I had gone home for the holidays and I was at a party, a Christmas party mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and everyone was drinking and I was not, because I was the designated driver. And as my friends were getting drunker, people were starting to say some things to me that just were at the time things that a lot of my white suburban friends would say to me.
And I wouldn’t think twice about, but because I had this video in my head, I was like, oh, maybe this is the video. People were like touching my hair and, you know, just saying things that I don’t believe were coming from a bad place. Right. But I was like, something is in this. But I was like, I don’t know, like, I don’t know what to make this. It’s like, I was like, shit black girls say, I was like, shit, white girls say, and I hate to even say it. My ex was like, maybe it should be shit white girls say to black girls. And I was like, no, that doesn’t make sense. The the meme is shit. Girls say so it has to be that. And my ex was like, why, why does it have to be like that? And I was like, I dunno, I don’t, I really wrestled with it. And then I thought, well, maybe that’s what it’ll be. So I wrote down all of the things that people had said to me. Right. I shot the video, I uploaded it before I went to work. And by lunchtime it had like a million views. And my email was just like blowing up. My phone was just like going nuts. No one at Ann Taylor knew I made YouTube videos, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And I was like freaking out. It was like, what? The frick is happening?
Michael Jamin (00:24:02):
Freaking out. Because you were worried you were just in trouble, Atara, or what? No,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:24:06):
No, I was just freaking out in the sense that I was feeling overwhelmed because my inbox was suddenly, you know, NPR wants to interview you and the Huffington Post wants to write something about you. Yeah. And like all of these agents and S n L reached out to me and they were like, we would love for you to audition for S N L. And I was like, what the f I was at work while this was happening. Wow. And I was like crying at my desk and, and my coworkers were like,
Michael Jamin (00:24:31):
What is all like tears of joy. No tears.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:24:33):
Yeah. Tears of joy, but also tears of like, I’m very emotional. I was very, I was just overwhelmed. Like, I don’t know how to handle this. And, but
Michael Jamin (00:24:43):
That video is, is wonderful. Yeah. obviously I watched it, but were you, I mean you were making a statement?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:24:50):
Yeah. I mean, I don’t think I knew I was making a statement. I thought I was just genuinely, I thought I was making a video about being from West Palm Beach, going to private school, where oftentimes I was the only black person in my class. And having my friends who were well-meaning say things to me that I knew made me feel uncomfortable, but I wasn’t really sure why.
Michael Jamin (00:25:14):
You weren’t sure why?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:25:15):
I wasn’t sure why, but I knew I, but I knew there was something funny about it. Right. And I, and I think my surprise was realizing that I had captured a universal experience that other black people and just marginalized people in general experience where people in their lives are like, you’re different from me. And they’re acknowledging it in a way that is not necessarily malicious, but it does still feel uncomfortable.
Michael Jamin (00:25:39):
But, but some of them were kind of cringy. Some were like, Ooh, did someone, some of them really say that to you?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:25:45):
Like, oh my god, really? Oh my God. Yeah. Yeah. And, but that’s also what was incredible to me about it is because the comments were like, this is my life. The comments were saying, I am the only black girl in my school in Idaho, and this has happened to me. And, and I’m, I’m watching these comments coming come in and realizing like, oh, I did something with this that I didn’t anticipate. Yeah. I, you know, I got invited to be on Anderson Cooper. They did a whole segment about me in that video. I had never been on national television before. And, and, and I, I was like, I had no agent. I had no help. I did my own makeup, which mm-hmm. I think I did good. But like, I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing. And I still
Michael Jamin (00:26:25):
Have How did your friend, how did your friends react to it though when they saw it?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:26:29):
Oh my God, they thought it was amazing. My whole, I I mean this was, but
Michael Jamin (00:26:32):
But they were the ones who said these things to you.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:26:34):
Yeah. And they were like, this is really fun. One of the girls that like was the main culprit came with, with me to Anderson Cooper <laugh>.
Michael Jamin (00:26:39):
But aren’t they supposed to apologize for, I mean, they’re not supposed to think it’s funny. They’re supposed to say, I’m sorry. I said those things.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:26:45):
<Laugh>, you know, I, I I think it’s also just a symptom of where I was in my life because at that time now we talk about privilege and microaggressions in a way that feels, you know very forward thinking and, and progressive. And in 2012, we were not. Right. And so again, while I knew that those comments made me uncomfortable, I did not have the language to explain why. Right. And I, and I did not believe my friends were malicious, and I still don’t believe that they were malicious. It’s just a symptom of your privilege. And that is something that people do all of the time, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, like straight people do that to gay people. Right. Gay bodied people do that to disabled people. Like cis people do that to trans people. It happens across every dynamic and, and every identity. And so I don’t think my friends, some of them did feel like, oh my God, this makes me like look bad. Right? But I didn’t have anyone that felt like, oh, Francesca hates me. Like, everybody knew I was making comedy content. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And a lot of my friends that were sharing it across all backgrounds were like, oh my God, this has happened to me. Or Oh my God, I need to check myself. Because Right. In the context, this doesn’t seem great. Right.
Michael Jamin (00:27:59):
Do Now I imagine putting yourself out there, cause I know what it’s like, it exposed you to backlash too. And my
Franchesca Ramsey (00:28:07):
God. Oh my God, yes.
Michael Jamin (00:28:09):
<Laugh> What, what and what was that like for you the first time? And what’s your advice? For me it
Franchesca Ramsey (00:28:13):
Was r it was really hard. It was really hard. So that video got about 12 million views in the first week. Right. And, you know, again, today 12 million views maybe. Doesn’t seem like a lot.
Michael Jamin (00:28:24):
No, it’s a lot. It’s a
Franchesca Ramsey (00:28:25):
Lot. I mean, I, I, you know, TikTok, people are blowing up all the time, but it was really big for me. Right. But again, because I was talking about race, there were a lot of people that were uncomfortable and there were people that were calling me a racist. They were saying that I hate white people and you know, this is not right. And if it was reversed and, and I, for better or for worse, am very accessible. So I was in the comments, like fighting with people. I was arguing back and forth
Michael Jamin (00:28:52):
And why? So that’s the thing.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:28:54):
Yeah. And I, and I do you
Michael Jamin (00:28:55):
Should you do that?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:28:57):
No, I, I think you really have to pick your battles mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And I think that, I think that there are some people that are always gonna dislike you no matter what. And they always have, they already have their mind made up about you. Yeah. And so you have to decide like, what is the purpose of me engaging with this person? And for me, especially on Twitter, even if I engage with someone who I disagree with, if I think I can make a broader point about the misconception, or I can clarify something, or I can use them as an example of how to better defend yourself on certain topics, I’ll do it. Versus there are a lot of people I just don’t engage with at all. But
Michael Jamin (00:29:37):
You, I I’m gonna guess I’m taking a wild guess though. I’m gonna guess that you’ve never once changed anybody’s mind.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:29:45):
I dunno that that’s, I don’t, I I’m gonna push back and say I don’t necessarily think that that’s true because I got a lot of emails from people that said that I did change their minds. Really. But I think, but I think it’s, again, it’s also a matter of what your approach is. And it also has to be somebody who actually wants to have their mind changed. There’s a difference between somebody that just wants to argue. Right. And someone who genuinely says, I don’t understand this thing and I want to, and I think whether it’s online or in real life, we have to be better at gauging the difference because it is a waste of your time to argue with the person who already has their mind made up. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> versus to engage with the person who says, you’ve made me think about this differently. I’m not sure I agree yet, but I’m like close to figuring out if, if I could be.
Michael Jamin (00:30:31):
And that makes you feel good knowing that, I mean,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:30:34):
Yeah. I mean me, it’s
Michael Jamin (00:30:35):
Exhausting. That’s all. Yeah.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:30:37):
Michael Jamin (00:30:37):
Exhausting. It really is.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:30:39):
It is exhausting. But I think what that video taught me about myself, and it really kind of shaped the direction that my content went in Yeah. Is that there’s a lot of, that comedy is really powerful, that we can tell stories that we can tell the stories of people that don’t necessarily see themselves represented and feel like they’re being heard. We can expose people to new ideas. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we can get people to think about the world that they inhabit and how they move through the world differently. And I realized like using comedy to talk about serious stuff is something that I wasn’t seeing other people do on YouTube. And so I really started like shifting my content Yes. In that direction.
Michael Jamin (00:31:19):
That’s almo. Would you say that’s kind of your brand now? I mean, what? Whatever that means.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:31:23):
Yeah. It was, and I’m, I don’t know. It’s hard. I’m trying to get out of it if I’m being honest.
Michael Jamin (00:31:28):
Why? Okay. Yeah. Why?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:31:29):
Because it is exhausting. Because, because as a black woman moving through the world, I’m constantly being asked to justify my existence and educate people mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and talk about serious topics all the time. Right. So then to do that for my job is, is dually exhausting. And, and I, I struggle with it because I know I’m good at it. Right. And I know it’s important, but it takes a lot out of me. Yeah. It ta and, and you know, like, I’m dealing with this right now with the writer strike where I’m making a lot of content about the strike because I think it’s important. But I’m also being asked and pulled and every direction where people like, explain this will tell me this, well, it makes sense, da da da da da. And I’m like, this is actually my livelihood. Like this is not just a trending topic on Twitter. Like this is about how I’m gonna continue to make a life for myself, you know?
Michael Jamin (00:32:21):
But Okay. So you’re, are you’re still, are you still making original content on YouTube? No. No. Why not? I think you should <laugh>
Franchesca Ramsey (00:32:29):
I have, I have a, cause I, I have a complicated relationship with YouTube Uhhuh. I guess the, the best way to say it is, you know, after, after, after I went viral, I got an agent. I left my day job, I started auditioning and, and
Michael Jamin (00:32:45):
The, and the, I say want, I wanna slow it down. The agent reached out to you?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:32:49):
Yes. Yes. Okay. Yes. Okay. And I will also add that prior to that, I had made DVDs of all my standup and all my sketches, and I had mailed them out to every agent in New York. And not one person got back to me.
Michael Jamin (00:33:03):
This is exactly what <laugh> Okay. So I do a, a monthly webinar, free webinar where I talk about Hollywood and how to break in, this is exactly what I talked about yesterday. Yeah. Is that you have to make them beg Yeah. If you’re begging them, it’s not gonna happen. Right. It’s not gonna happen. Right. They have to look at you like you are, like you have dollar signs on your face Yeah. And you’re a big bag of money. And when they see money on your face, they’ll come after you. Yeah. Which is what they saw with you. Okay. This is
Franchesca Ramsey (00:33:27):
Someone, it was like the, it was like the year prior I had sent out those DVDs and I did not get one person to get back to
Michael Jamin (00:33:33):
You. Same person, same talent. Yeah. You just didn’t have the platform yet.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:33:37):
Yeah. And then suddenly everybody wanted me. So then I, you know, I got this agent and, you know, I got the opportunity. I, I met with a manager and she said like, what’s your dream? And I said, I want my own TV show. And
Michael Jamin (00:33:50):
She What kind of show, by the way?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:33:52):
Well, I didn’t really know. I just knew I wanted a show. And she looked at my YouTube channel and was like, well, we should pitch like a sketch show. So I was out pitching the sketch show, nobody bought it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And one of the places I went to though was M T V. And M T V was like, well, we really like you. We have this show about feminism and and pop culture that’s doing really well. Would you be interested in developing something similar about race? And I was like, yeah, that sounds cool. So I met with this production company called Corn Neighbor Brown. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, we started developing what then became M T v Decoded mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And, you know, I, Dakota has opened so many doors for me. I’m, I’m so proud of that show. But I dealt with so much harassment because of that show so much. And YouTube, for Better for worse, did not really support me. And, and I, and I, and I really struggled with that because
Michael Jamin (00:34:45):
What kind of support were you hoping to get from them?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:34:48):
Well, people were making death threats. Oh. People were taking my content and they were editing together videos of me to make me say that I hate all white men and I hate all white people. Oh my God. And I think people should die. And, and, and, and YouTube was like, well, you know, it’s not a copyright violation. And I was like, how is this not a copyright violation? Like, so
Michael Jamin (00:35:07):
What do you do when that hap what do you do when that happens?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:35:10):
I mean, what I did was I ended up walking away. I mean, I did it for six years. And again, I am so thankful for all the doors that it opened, but I had to ask myself like, is this worth it in terms of what I want? And what I want is to be a comedy writer. I don’t want to be a professional educator. I don’t want,
Michael Jamin (00:35:29):
But I imagine you were also monetizing this from YouTube. You were making monies, right?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:35:32):
Well, it was MTV’s content. So I was not making, I was making a flat rate on every episode. I was credited as executive producer because I had developed the show. So I was being paid as the host and executive produ producer, and I was paid anytime I wrote an episode mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And I wrote about, I’m gonna say I wrote about like 50% of the episodes, and then I got hired on the nightly show. Right. So I was on TV and I was doing Dakota at the same time. So we brought in writers. Right.
so I was making a flat rate. I wasn’t making, I wasn’t making a ton of money. I I I, I worked part-time jobs. I worked as a writer for Upward for three years. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I was speaking at colleges, I was doing like little TV things here and there, but I was M T V was not paying all my bills. Right. and so when I really like took a step back and looked at where I wanted to go in my career, I was like, I just don’t wanna be an internet personality for the rest of my life. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I don’t wanna be the girl who just talks about race. And I was like, I’m glad that this is given me a platform and opened all these doors for me. But I would meet people and they would, they were surprised that I was funny. And, and I would say, well, I’m a comedian. They’re like, no, you’re not. I see you onde coded. And I’m like, right. Well, Dakota is like an educational show. I’m, I’m not, I’m not know. But the thing
Michael Jamin (00:36:54):
Is, people say to me, I’m afraid about, like, they’re not even in the business yet. I’m afraid about being put into a box. Right. I’m afraid of about doing this one thing that getting stuck in the box. And my attitude is get in a box first. You know, you need to get work.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:37:06):
Yeah. Get in the box first. Yeah. And then
Michael Jamin (00:37:07):
You worry about getting out of the box.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:37:09):
Yeah. Right. Yeah. And I, and I would, yes, I, I agree. Like, and if, for me, I didn’t know I was getting into a box. I was following what was being successful for me and what I was enjoying and what I was good at. And I did that for six years. You know, I was on the nightly show. And, and even that, like, I started for a minute. I was like, oh, I think I wanna be a late night host. And then I was realizing like, oh, this is really hard. Like mm-hmm. <Affirmative> talking about the news and, and, and writing about news, writing about what’s happening in the world and trying to put in a funny spin is just a, it’s hard. It’s so hard. And again, I learned so much, but I think what I really learned was, I was like, if I have a TV show one night a week, I don’t wanna do five nights a week, <laugh>.
Michael Jamin (00:37:51):
But even on your channel, which I poked around, I was like, oh my God. Like you interviewed Michelle Obama. I was like, what? Like what? How did that come about? <Laugh>?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:37:58):
Yeah. I mean that was, that was through YouTube. I, so, because I was so active and I had won that Emmy’s contest and I won that next step contest, like I had a relationship with YouTube, like I would speak at events there. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> one time they had this party where they had an airplane circling LA with like celebrities. And I hosted the plane. Like I was speaking over like the, the speaker in the plane. It was so weird. It was very fun. But like, that was because of YouTube. And so they would regularly reach out to me and say like, oh, we’re doing this event which you hosted, or would you speak on this panel? Or whatever. So
Michael Jamin (00:38:36):
Leaving, it must’ve been very hard for you because on the one hand, they were good too. You on the other hand,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:38:41):
Yeah. I mean, I wasn’t getting paid for a lot of those things. Like I Oh really? No, no, it was just
Michael Jamin (00:38:45):
Franchesca Ramsey (00:38:46):
Yeah. It was just ex it was exposure. And that was also part of it. Like, that was me making a conscientious decision that I wasn’t gonna do unpaid work anymore. Uhhuh. <affirmative>. But I started saying like, okay, cool. Like, you guys are happy to have to fly me out and have me speak on a panel, but I then have to run back to my hotel room and like write these articles because I’m, I don’t have money. You know? And like, my visibility, I think a lot of times people think like, oh, I see you everywhere. So that must mean you’re making a lot of money. That must mean you’re, you’re, you’re crushing it. And that’s just not always the case.
Speaker 3 (00:39:23):
Hey, it’s Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I’m not gonna spam you and it’s absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.
Michael Jamin (00:39:47):
But even on your videos of, on your YouTube videos, you were mon like, cause you can’t monetize them. Yeah. You just didn’t, you weren’t getting a lot. That’s
Franchesca Ramsey (00:39:53):
No, I wasn’t, I I was never one, I was never consistent largely because I always had a regular job. Like I, I tried being a full-time YouTuber and I just, the money is so inconsistent. It’s a once a month paycheck. Yeah. And you don’t know how much it is because some months you have a really good month and your views are really up. Other months your views are really down. The, I don’t know what they’re like now, but at the time your ads did not automatically come on your video. Sometimes the ads wouldn’t show up for like a day or two. Uhhuh <affirmative>. So if you got all your views in those first two days and then they dropped off by the time you got ads, you didn’t make any money.
Michael Jamin (00:40:30):
Franchesca Ramsey (00:40:31):
And then there’s like certain times of year that were really good, I was always trying different things. Right. Like I was making Holiday vi, I made these Christmas card videos. I made these videos that you were supposed to send to people for their birthday. I did Parodies, lady Gaga came out with a song. So I did a video for like, you know, I stayed up all night like editing this video. So Yeah,
Michael Jamin (00:40:50):
You did Gwen Stefani, you sounded just like her. Yeah. I was like, that was great. I would
Franchesca Ramsey (00:40:53):
Do all these impressions and I was, I was just realizing that the amount of hours I was putting in were not, it wasn’t paying off for me is what I was realizing. And that was a big part of my transition into like, I want to be in tv. Right. That’s always been the goal. You know, I, I went to acting school. I didn’t know I was gonna become a writer and, and I was so glad that I was doing that, but I was like, this is, I don’t wanna be on YouTube for the rest of my life. I don’t wanna make videos in my apartment. I don’t wanna make videos about my life. I want to work in tv. So really focusing on that, and again, doing Decoded was awesome, but I realized what I have to do is I gotta get a sample. Right.
Like I have to, I have to put together a packet. Like I have to start doing the things that are gonna move me into the next phase. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I think kind of to your point about being in a box, I think you have to be open to, if you’re in a box or people are seeing you one way, being open to saying, what else can I do? And like, how can I show people that I’m more than this one thing? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and taking that risk and believing in yourself is really scary. But it’s essential because I could have done decoded for the rest of my life and I don’t want to do that <laugh>,
Michael Jamin (00:42:11):
You know? But then, so iCarly was prob was your first scripted? Yeah.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:42:15):
And then it was
Michael Jamin (00:42:16):
What, so how did you get that? Cuz that’s a big leap you have to
Franchesca Ramsey (00:42:19):
Write. Yeah. So before iCarly, what did I do before iCarly? So I did the nightly show and then I sold a pilot to Comedy Central. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And the pilot was with the same producers that did Decoded and it was kind of like a late night sketch type show, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And we didn’t go to series. They actually gave us a mini room and I did not know it was a mini room at the time. I was just happy that I was getting a writer’s room. And so we wrote 10 episodes of the show. We didn’t go to series. I wrote a book. Right. I did a book tour.
Michael Jamin (00:42:54):
And how, how did the, how did the book come about? Which the book is called, well that escalated quickly, <laugh>, which I imagine and the memoir and memo, it’s memoir Mistakes of an Accidental Activist, which is Yeah, that’s a perfect idol. Cause I think that’s exactly what you were, right?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:43:08):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it, it really was a collection of essays about a lot of the mistakes that I had made in communicating with other people on the internet and talking about things that were important to me and all the lessons that I had learned along the way. And after Shit White Girls say Went viral, I had a number of people reaching out to me, asking me to write a book, but I just didn’t know what I wanted to write a book about. These
Michael Jamin (00:43:32):
Were agents or publishers
Franchesca Ramsey (00:43:34):
Literary agents saying like, you should write a book. And I just didn’t know what I wanted to write a book about. I kept putting it off funny. And then after I was a nightly show was still on the air and I, I decided, I think I wanna give this a chance. And I finally had initially I wanted it to just be called Accidental Activists and that was gonna be the title. And I started putting together a book proposal and meeting with literary agents. And I met this great literary agent and she gave me like really good notes on my proposal. She really ripped it apart <laugh>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I was so happy because I had felt like she was the first person I talked to that wasn’t like blowing smoke up my ass. She was the first person that was like, this is good, but it could be better. Right. and so she and I worked together for like two months on the proposal and then we went and did a number of meetings. I think we met with like six publishers and
Michael Jamin (00:44:28):
I And you didn’t wanna write it first, you wanted to pitch it first as get it sold first?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:44:32):
Yeah. So in with non-fiction, you don’t have to write it first. With fiction, usually you do have to write it first. Right. If you’ve written a book before the fiction proposal usually don’t have to write the whole thing. But for non-fiction you usually write like two or three chapters mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and then you do like a summary of what the book is about and a bio and who you are and, and why this book and you know, what are books that are in the same family as yours and Right. What your plan for press would be and all that stuff. And I’m, you know, I went to school for graphic design, so I made like a really beautiful book proposal with like photos and Oh wow. Artwork and I drew all these little charts and graphs and stuff cuz that’s kind of like, I love infographics. And so yeah, we went to maybe six or seven publishers and I got four offers. Wow. And they went kind of head to head and my agent was pitting them against each other. Wow. yeah. And I got a six figure book deal, which was a big deal. <Laugh>.
Michael Jamin (00:45:30):
That is a big deal. Yeah.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:45:32):
Michael Jamin (00:45:33):
Did they help you, what, you know, promote it, put you on tour?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:45:36):
Yeah, so I mean, that’s part of when you work with a publisher is they have a a publicist, like an in-house. I was at Grand Central Publishing, so they had a publicist and we did a photo shoot for the book. And I spent my own money, like I got a publicist. I also had a website built for the, for the book. And then we did an eight city book tour and I got cities added because I really wanted to do something in Florida where I’m from. And that was where I reached out to some of my contacts from the chamber and got my local Miami bookstore.
Michael Jamin (00:46:09):
Why these, the only eight cities, though. Like, what, when they say they’re putting on tour, like, I don’t know.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:46:14):
Well, they looked at, they looked at the analytics from like my Facebook and my Instagram and, and my YouTube to see like where my audience was at. Okay. And they used that to pick what cities
Michael Jamin (00:46:25):
And then people came out. Yeah. And, and you read, you read and signed books.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:46:28):
Yeah. Yeah. So I kind of, I picked, I reached out to friends in different cities and I had different people as kind of like my co-host in each city. And it was awesome. But it was, it was exhausting. It was really exhausting. And I was doing that at the same time that I was doing my comedy Central pilot. And all of this is to say that like, in that moment I thought like, I’m making it. I was like, I’m making it. I’m like, I’m about to be like a star <laugh>.
Michael Jamin (00:46:55):
That’s what I would think. But you know,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:46:56):
It wasn then my showed didn’t go. No. Cause then I showed it didn’t go. But
Michael Jamin (00:46:59):
That’s normal. Most shows don’t go
Franchesca Ramsey (00:47:01):
Right. But I didn’t know that didn know that. I, I, I didn’t know that. I, I thought I’m a failure. Especially because, like, really think about it. Yeah. Well, think about it this way. When, when you, when a pilot gets announced, right? I, this is my first time having a, having a pilot ever. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, a pilot gets announced and people that don’t work in TV think that means you have a TV show. They’re like, where is the show? And I’m like, oh, well I’m making the pilot now. And they’re like, well, when does it come out? I’m like, I don’t know. It hasn’t been ordered a series. So like, people were writing articles about me, like 10 Reasons Franchesca’s gonna change late night. And like, we need Franchesca’s show. And like, she’s amazing. And Larry Wilmore had gotten canceled. So it was like Franchesca Ramsey’s gonna be the only black woman late night host. And like all of this hype was coming for me, and my book was coming out and, and, and, and my publisher was really like, this is it. We’re gonna time it with the show. And then, and you
Michael Jamin (00:47:54):
Were believing this too.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:47:56):
And I was believe of course I was, of course I was believing it. I was like, oh my God, I want this so badly. Yeah. You know? And and hindsight is 2020. Like it was not the show for me. I’m glad that I didn’t end up making that show because I, I really don’t wanna host a late night show about identity. Right. I, I thought I did, but I don’t want to anymore. And so like, when it didn’t go to series, and then, well, we, we did the mini room and, and that was kind of like a consolation prize, but even then I was like, it was another year of staffing and, and, and putting the room together and trying to figure out what the show was, and then waiting around for Comedy Central. And then they said, we’re not going to series. They were like, well, let’s sell it somewhere else. So I was like, shooting these sketches. And we,
Michael Jamin (00:48:44):
That doesn’t, that doesn’t happen. <Laugh>. Right. But that so rarely happens, but, okay.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:48:47):
Right. Well, especially because other networks are like, well, you didn’t want it. Why do we want it?
Michael Jamin (00:48:51):
Yeah. We don’t, they don’t want damaged goods. You don’t,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:48:53):
You don’t. You didn’t want it. So now you think I’m gonna make the show. Like, yeah. Right. Again, and I’m just kind of like, I, I’m just like, I’m just going along. Right. Like Right. I’m going and taking these meetings and, and you know, you have meetings and they’re like, we love you. You’re amazing. You’re great. We’re passing, you know, <laugh>.
Michael Jamin (00:49:09):
Yeah. Yes. I know. All those meetings. <Laugh>.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:49:11):
Right. And so I was just like, I was just like, oh my God, my career is over. And I got a writing job on yearly Departed, which is was a late an end of the year comedy show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And that was through Twitter. BES Calb, who was our showrunner, followed me on Twitter. We were friendly, and my reps were like, Hey, there’s this late, this end of the year comedy special, do you wanna take a meeting? I took the meeting and Bess was just like, I love you. I think you’re super funny. She had read my sample and yeah, it was kind of, it was like a series of eulogies for different things throughout the year. Uhhuh <affirmative>.
And we did it over Zoom <laugh> Oh, wow. During the Pandemic. And I was still auditioning, and that’s when I booked Superstore. I booked Superstore while I was doing Yearly Departed. So I went to LA to do Superstore and it just worked out that it was at the same time that yearly was gonna film. So I got to go be on set and, and Seeba happened. And and after being here for Superstore again in the middle of the pandemic, I was like, I don’t really wanna go back to New York. Right. What if I just stay <laugh>?
Michael Jamin (00:50:25):
Well, you, but you’re married, aren’t
Franchesca Ramsey (00:50:26):
You? I was, I got divorced. You was? Okay. I got divorced in 2019.
Michael Jamin (00:50:30):
Okay. So you don’t have to worry about your husband coming over
Franchesca Ramsey (00:50:32):
Here. No, no. We got divorced before, before I got hired on that show. Yeah. I mean, right. Like the year before the pandemic. Right.
Michael Jamin (00:50:42):
And then how did I, Carly come about then?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:50:45):
My managers were just like, Hey, you know, I, I told them I wanted to staff. Right. And so, yeah, I took a meeting with Ally Shelton, who was our showrunner, and again, she read my sample. And I think what she really appreciated was that I had this background as an internet person and mm-hmm. You know, Carly is an internet person personality, and I had actual experience and dealing with trolls and dealing with going viral and Yeah, of course. Live streaming and course bands and social media course. And so Allie was a perfect
Michael Jamin (00:51:18):
Franchesca Ramsey (00:51:19):
Yeah. Allie was like, you really understand this world. And I I came, I went into my meeting and I had watched episodes of iCarly and I pitched some ideas as for what I felt like would be the direction that I would be interested in going in. And and prior to that, I had my friend Shameka that I mentioned that I had met through YouTube. She and I had sold a pilot to Fox. And so I learned a lot about the scripted process through that. Right. Just through development. It was with Kay Cannon and and Kay is amazing. I learned so much from her.
Michael Jamin (00:51:55):
But was it intimidating for you to be, cuz now you’re in out of your element again, you haven’t done scripted, so
Franchesca Ramsey (00:52:01):
It, it wasn’t intimidating. I, and I, again, I really feel very fortunate because I was able to work with a friend of mine that I had known for, you know, almost 10 years. And she and I had made YouTube videos together and we had come out to LA for pilot season as actors and we got an apartment together. And through the audition process we were like, all of these scripts are bad, we could fucking do this. Right. We were like, we could write a script better than this. <Laugh>. Yeah. Right. And so we wrote like a treatment. We didn’t even write a full script. And then we, through our agents, went and took a bunch of meetings and we met with Amy PO’s company. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. We, we went to Kay Cannon, which is K and l. We went to a whole bunch of places, but Kay and Laverne, her business partner, we just, we just loved them. And they were like, we wanna develop this with you. And so they really taught us how to develop and structure a scripted pitch. That
Michael Jamin (00:52:57):
Was the Fox show.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:52:58):
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I had never pitched a scripted project before. Everything was like sketched late night. Yeah. Variety. And so yeah, off of that, again, we didn’t go to series, but we wrote the pilot. And so I used that as like a sample, even though I’d written it with someone else. And then I had a sample that I’d written by myself, and then I had like all my decoded videos and I had sketches from my Comedy Central pilot and Yeah. And then just like meeting Allie. And then I had, I had also worked on yearly Departed. Yeah. And I think, you know, I really advocated for myself in the sense that I said, look, I haven’t done this before, but I’m a really hard worker and like, I learn fast and like, I’ll put myself out there and I’ll figure out how to get it done.
Michael Jamin (00:53:45):
But this is the direction you wanna go in writing. Yeah. Script and, and performing. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Right Now I wanna, I know I’m changing gears here, but No,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:53:55):
Michael Jamin (00:53:55):
How often do you post now on TikTok? You know,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:54:00):
I don’t, or
Michael Jamin (00:54:00):
Franchesca Ramsey (00:54:01):
I don’t post that often. I just came off of, in April I tried to post every, or I did, I posted every day in April on Instagram. Ok. Ok. And that was just a personal challenge for myself cuz I really wanted to really kind of wrap my mind around what I missed about creating content. As I’m sure you’ve experienced, I’ve been stuck in development for a few years and I have been feeling disillusioned about the industry. And look at, now we’re on Strike <laugh>. Yeah. But you know, I I was feeling burnt out and
Michael Jamin (00:54:35):
It’s so funny that you were disillusioned because you’ve had, you don’t realize this, but you’ve had tremendous amount of success. Yes. It’s just not the what you thought it was gonna gonna to be. No, but from, for me, from, I’m a, I’m a I’ve doing this longer than you have. Yes. I know. You have a lot of success. You just don’t, it doesn’t what Yeah. It wasn’t what you thought it would be. That’s all.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:54:51):
Right. Right. And I, and I, and I also am guilty of the comparison game. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I, I came up with a lot of people that have had a lot of success and I, and I’m very proud of them. And I, I root for them, but sometimes it’s not hard. It’s sometimes it’s hard to not be like, oh God, when is it my turn? When is it my turn? Yeah. And I have sold a show every year since 2017, and none of them have gone to series.
Michael Jamin (00:55:21):
I’m laughing at, you know, you’re not supposed to, they’re not supposed to
Franchesca Ramsey (00:55:23):
Go to series. I know, I know. But I want one of them to go. I mean, look,
Michael Jamin (00:55:27):
It’s a mistake when Len goes to series, they, someone screwed up and then, and you, oh, the guy, they made a mistake and I’m going to series. That’s how it goes. <Laugh>.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:55:33):
I look, I, I believe that some 0.1 will go to series. Right. But, but it’s, but, and again, I’m, I’m candid and I share this because I know there are other people who do look at me and think like, oh my God, she’s doing it. Yeah. And I’m looking at other people going, oh, they’re doing it. And I wish I was doing it too. And so for me, I was like, you know what, I’m gonna go back to my roots. I love making content. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and I would make content every single day. And I never got paid for this shit. I was doing it and I wasn’t paying my bills, but it, it, it fueled me and I enjoyed it. And it was fun and it was challenging. And instead of overthinking it and instead of having to get on a Zoom and talk to executives and get notes and have everybody else pitch in, I was like, what do I wanna make?
Michael Jamin (00:56:16):
Franchesca Ramsey (00:56:17):
And it was really exciting. I tried all different sorts of new things. And some of the things I would post on TikTok. Something, what’s weird for me is if something does really well on TikTok, it bombs on Instagram. Yeah. And if something does really well on Instagram, it bombs on TikTok.
Michael Jamin (00:56:32):
How funny. See, I feel like I can do stuff that does really well on TikTok, but nothing does well on Instagram. <Laugh> <laugh>.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:56:38):
Well, it just de it just depends. I mean, I, I I, I am fortunate that I’ve been doing this for a long time and so I built an audience just brick by brick. You know, I think people go into this now and they’re like, I wanna go viral. And like, you just have to make something because you have something to say. And if people love it, awesome. And if nobody loves it, fine. You move on. And
Michael Jamin (00:57:00):
It’s also consistency, but also you’re, you’re really putting, there’s a couple of lessons I think from talking to you. Like you’re being consistent. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you’ve been doing this a long time. Yeah. You’re not giving up, you’re putting yourself out there. You are exposing yourself very vulnerably. Like honestly, people are coming after you. Yeah. And I don’t know, I think that may have made that, if I were in your shoes, I may have shrunk away. You know what I’m saying? <Laugh>.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:57:27):
Yeah. I mean, I think that when you’re in a creative field, you have to have a little dose of being delusional. Yes. Like, you, you have to believe in yourself more. You have to, you have to be on your team before anybody else is. And while I’m so thankful for all of the success that I had, I was making videos and no one was watching them. Yes. No one was watching them. And I was still making them, and I was still putting hours. And this is before there was a partner program. I wasn’t making any money. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. I was coming home from work and I was spending all of my time making these videos cuz I just thought it was fun and I enjoyed it and I felt like I had something to say. Right. And when I got my agent, I, I will never forget <laugh>, he was like, you have so many videos. And I was like, yeah, I’ve been doing this for six years. And he picked out ones that didn’t go viral. He was like, this is a really good video. And I was like, no, it didn’t really do it. He’s like, but this is better than shit white girls say.
Michael Jamin (00:58:26):
And I was like, yeah, you never know.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:58:27):
I agree. <Laugh>. Yeah.
Michael Jamin (00:58:29):
You never know what’s gonna go viral and you can’t predict it. You just have to just keep expressing yourself.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:58:35):
No, I I think you’re almost setting yourself up if you say, oh, this is the one that’s gonna go viral. It’s always the one that you don’t think. Yeah. It’s always the one that you like, put no time into and you just kind of like crapped out and then that’s the one that does well.
Michael Jamin (00:58:48):
But you’re still post. So I asked you how many of you post a day? Ont? You said you for a wife one month, you did a, a post a day. But what do you, what’s your cadence now?
Franchesca Ramsey (00:58:58):
On TikTok? Just not that much. I, I’ve been on a posting spree with like the strike cuz I’ve been making a lot of content about it. Yeah. And, and I, and I have felt inspired. I felt inspired because I realized, wow, people don’t understand what we do for a living. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, they don’t understand how TV is made. They don’t know why we’re on strike. They think we’re all millionaires. Yeah. And I was just like, oh, this is what I’m good. I’m really good at short form informational content. I’m really good at that. So I was like, cool, I’ll just make a bunch of that stuff. So I, like, in the past few weeks, I’ve maybe posted like three or four times a week on TikTok.
Michael Jamin (00:59:35):
Okay. and then, but you’re pretty active on Twitter though, but that’s more conversational. Yeah, that’s more, I have a thought and I’m gonna share it.
Franchesca Ramsey (00:59:41):
Yeah. But I’ve been posting videos on, on, in, on tech. My god, I’ve been posting videos on Twitter also.
Michael Jamin (00:59:47):
Right. Oh really? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Really? I I, that hadn’t even occurred to me. I have no fo I have very few followers on Twitter. Yeah. This whole thing is new to me. You’re, you’re teaching me,
Franchesca Ramsey (00:59:56):
Honestly. Yeah. I, for better or for worse, what I like about Twitter is it feels like you can ea drop on a whole bunch of conversations mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And I think for writers especially, just learning how to be concise about your opinions and your thoughts mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, and doing them in a way that is really digestible and also shareable
Michael Jamin (01:00:17):
And get to the point and don’t waste time in the beginning because people are, they’re already, they’re already moving their thumb. They’re already Yeah. Finding something else. And
Franchesca Ramsey (01:00:25):
You have a limited number of characters. So you need to be able to choose your words carefully and, and know how to edit yourself mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and know how to tell a story. Especially if you’re like making a thread of different tweets. Like you need to be able to compel the person to keep scrolling. Like you need to, it’s almost like, you know, that end of act one cliffhanger where you’re like, okay, I want you to come back after commercial break. Right. I’m gonna promise you that there’s gonna be more. And so what’s been really exciting for me is to just learn all of the different ways that my skills and my interests and my experiences have helped me become a better storyteller, a better writer a better performer.
Michael Jamin (01:01:07):
When I, when I ran into the other end, the picket line, were you with other eye colie? I, my my mind You’re with your iCarly?
Franchesca Ramsey (01:01:13):
No, no, no, no. But the people that I’m friends with from iCarly were not there. My writing partner Shameika was there. Okay. Now, so sh Shameika and I sold a pilot to Fox. We sold one to Paramount plus last year. Right. and we had a project at Netflix over the middle of the pandemic. And that’s my work life. I mean, she is my best friend mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And we could not be more different, but we love working together. Right. So I was with her and like some other like standups and stuff.
Michael Jamin (01:01:43):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, are you still performing standup?
Franchesca Ramsey (01:01:46):
I’m trying. I’m, I’m like dabbling. I’m thinking about getting back into it. I did a friend’s, I did my friend Jenna Friedman’s show in support of her book. And I had such a good time and so many people were like, where can I see you perform? And, and I was like, oh, I don’t really do standup anymore. Yeah. I, I’ve been thinking about it and it was, it was all all in the same world of like, me feeling disillusioned about my career and being like, I need something. I was like, I need something that’s just for me and something that I can still be creative and I don’t have to get notes on it and I don’t have to work on a deadline. And like, for example, I painted my apartment, my, my apartment. I’ve painted every wall in my apartment Uhhuh and people, I made all these videos about it and so many people were like, your apartment’s so amazing. And I was like, I needed something to do. That was just for me. I don’t care if you don’t like it, I don’t care what color you think it should be, I’m gonna make something for myself. You
Michael Jamin (01:02:44):
Are speaking to the choir, <laugh>. Yeah.
Franchesca Ramsey (01:02:46):
You really are. I think, and you know what the thing is too is I think especially for people who don’t work in creative fields and they’re like, I wanna be a TV writer. I wanna, you know, make movies and blah, blah, blah. When you turn your creative passion into a job mm-hmm. It can very easily feel like, I fucking hate this.
Michael Jamin (01:03:03):
I did a post about this a couple weeks ago, I think. Yeah. It’s
Franchesca Ramsey (01:03:07):
Hard. It’s hard because you realize that like the business of creativity, and this is what we’re going through right now with the writer strike, is it’s not just about creativity, it’s about money. Yeah. It’s about profits and here you are going, but this is my baby. And they’re like, we have to kill your baby. Yeah. Your baby is going to die. We’re gonna do, now the baby is an alien and now this needs to happen and this and da da da da. And, and it can be really soul sucking and soul crushing
Michael Jamin (01:03:35):
<Laugh>. See, so funny you say, cuz I’ve done, you know, I’ve done this a long time. Yeah. And I’m, I’m, I’m past the, the point where it’s soul crushing now it’s like, oh, you wanna change the to alien to a a robot That sounds good. <Laugh>, whatever
Franchesca Ramsey (01:03:47):
You want. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’ll, I I also admit that I am just very sensitive and I, I, I’ve gotten better at it and I’m, and I learn how to pick my battles. I think the first time around I was so terrified when I would get notes that I would just be like, okay, I’ll do whatever you want. And like, now I know how to say like, Ugh, I don’t agree with that note. Like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, here’s what I would do differently. Or like how to make the exact think that they came up with the idea. Right. Like, I’m gonna address the note differently, but now you’re gonna think that I did what you asked for. And that just took time. And also now, again, because of how precarious this business is, I always have like three or four things going. So I’m like, okay, I hope this project goes, but if it dies, it’s not gonna be the end of my world. I have other stuff going on. Right,
Michael Jamin (01:04:35):
Right. You’re always working on something else. Yeah. Wow, Franchesca, I I just think you were so inspiring. I really like, I hope you know that I look at you as a huge success. Oh
Franchesca Ramsey (01:04:45):
My gosh, thank you. And
Michael Jamin (01:04:46):
I really do because you’re just doing it. You’re putting yourself out there and you’re making it happen. And it’s okay if this one failed something else. You’re just, it’s, it’s okay. You’re moving forward, you’re doing, you’re doing great.
Franchesca Ramsey (01:04:57):
Thank you so much. Don’t stop anything. Yeah. I, that really means a lot. And, and I mean everything that I said when I first met you, that I’ve learned from watching your content and I’m really inspired by you. And I think we need more people in this industry who are generous with their knowledge. Right. And there is space for all of us to win. Your success is not failure. <Laugh>.
Michael Jamin (01:05:18):
You know what though? It’s not so much that I’m being, I don’t think I’m being generous with my knowledge. It’s just that it’s a lot of work to be generous with, your know. Yes. It’s a, it’s a lot of work to post every day. Yeah. Which is why I don’t think people are, and also why put yourself, you know, I get trolls too, so Right. Like, why, why, why, why do that to yourself?
Franchesca Ramsey (01:05:32):
I guess I guess I mean, in a sense that there are a lot of gatekeepers in every industry that move from a place of a scarcity mindset mm-hmm. <Affirmative> in that they believe that if other people know what they know, if other people have access to the people that they do, that it’s gonna be at, at their detriment. And I do not believe that that is true.
Michael Jamin (01:05:53):
No, that’s not true at all. No, I
Franchesca Ramsey (01:05:54):
Don’t believe that. That is true. And I believe that your success is my success and I would like for other creative folks to be in the industry because guess what? You might need somebody to be on staff. Hook me up. I
Michael Jamin (01:06:06):
Wanna, that’s the thing you people don’t realize. It’s not a competition, it’s a community writers. You write writing is a community. Yes.
Franchesca Ramsey (01:06:12):
So, yes. I remember a few, a few months ago, there is a pilot program with TikTok stars and NBCUniversal, like helping them develop and, and and basically giving them like a first look. And there were lots of people on Twitter that were so mad about it, how dare they give these talkers? And I pushed back to say, if any, first of all, a development deal does not mean you have a TV show. No. Most of us know that. Right. That does not mean anything’s going to series. And if something does go to series, guess what? They’re gonna need a show runner. They’re gonna need writers. We should be shepherding new people into the business because when you get a job, we all get jobs. Yeah. Right. And we live in the world of Issa Rae and Quinta Brunson and Bo Burnham, and people who started from their bedrooms mm-hmm.
<Affirmative> and are now making successful television shows that win awards and staff knew writers and people from diverse backgrounds. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> who would never have gotten their foot in the door if it hadn’t been for the internet. So I am of the mind that if I teach you how to make tv, if I teach you how to get an agent or write a pilot or you know, build your online following, it’s not gonna hurt my career. Right. Like, your success could be my success too. And Right. I just say all about to say that, that feels very much like your ethos and I really respect that. So I really appreciate and I, I really enjoy the work that you’re doing. Oh,
Michael Jamin (01:07:35):
Thanks. Tell everyone how they can find you across all your freaking platforms. <Laugh>.
Franchesca Ramsey (01:07:42):
So I’m @chescaleigh across everything except for TikTok. Somebody else got @chescaleigh, it’s Oh damn. I know. It’s fine. I’m @franchesca_leigh on TikTok, right? Yeah. Or just search Franchesca Ramsey. There is an h in my name. I’m the only Franhcesca Ramsey. I think there’s another one, but I’ve buried her in the Google results. Sorry. <laugh>.
Michael Jamin (01:08:02):
Franchesca Ramsey (01:08:03):
I did. She used to come up years ago and I don’t, I don’t think she’s on there anymore. <Laugh>,
Michael Jamin (01:08:09):
Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge here.
Franchesca Ramsey (01:08:12):
Gosh, delight. Oh, thank you for having me. I, I look forward to seeing you on the picket lines. I know you’ll be back out
Michael Jamin (01:08:18):
There. I will be back. <Laugh>. Alright everyone, thank you. What a wonderful officer. Thank you so much. Remember I put a ton of free stuff on my website. You go to michaeljamin.com/shout. I got a, I got an email list, I got a newsletter, which is free tips. I got a free mini course. Go get it. It’s all there. And thank you so much until next week. All right, everyone keep writing.
Phil Hudson (01:08:44):
This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you’re interested in learning more about writing, make sure you register for Michael’s monthly webinar at michaeljamin.com/webinar. If you found this podcast helpful, consider sharing it with a friend and leaving us a five-star review on iTunes. For free screenwriting tips, follow Michael Jamin on social media at @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow Phil Hudson on social media @PhilAHudson. This podcast was produced by Phil Hudson. It was edited by Dallas Crane. Music by Ken Joseph. Until next time, keep writing.