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Sharena Sigmon ’20 MFA

MFA Graduate in Writing for the Screen and Stage

Sharena Sigmon ’20 MFA

I want my writing to reach people who feel like their voice is ignored. I want them to read my work and see parts of themselves that they haven't yet fully recognized.”

Sharena Sigmon is a recent MFA graduate from the Writing for the Screen and Stage program in the School of Communication. Her work seeks to encompass the life of Black people, specifically Black women, through screenwriting, TV writing, and playwriting. In 2012, Sharena graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in fiction writing, where she was selected for their exclusive Semester in LA screenwriting program. Since then, she has continued to immerse herself into the world of writing and currently, she is revising a screenplay about a murder that took place in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, where she grew up.

How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?
I explore how I can encompass my life as a Black woman and Black people's experiences through screenwriting, TV writing, and playwriting.

What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns of your career?
I graduated from Columbia College nearly six years ago, and I thought I would never go back to school. Finding myself back in an academic setting, I've been able to network more and get my voice out there through my writing here at Northwestern. 

Tell us what inspired your research and/or work.
I am heavily inspired by Black people and our everyday life experiences.

What is a mistake you have learned from in your career?
I've learned to never let Imposter Syndrome overpower my strengths and talents as a writer.

Whom do you admire in your field and otherwise, and why?
I am inspired by the work of Jordan Peele, Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, and Stephen King. Their work is very grounded and it inspires me to push myself as a writer.

What do you find both rewarding and challenging about your research and/or work?
I challenge myself every day as a writer to find new ways to tell a story from a new perspective.

What is the biggest potential impact or implication of your work?
I want my writing to reach people who feel like their voice is ignored. I want them to read my work and see parts of themselves that they haven't yet fully recognized. I want to make sure to keep writing for the future Black screenwriters, directors, and TV showrunners.

Why Northwestern?
My program combines all forms of writing I am interested in and helps me gain experience in fields I hadn't before. 

How do you unwind after a long day?
I like to watch a TV show (right now it's Twin Peaks) and eat chocolate.

What books are on your bedside table?
Right now, I am finishing up Little Weirds by Jenny Slate.

What inspires you?
I'm inspired by anyone who lives in their purpose and follows their heart. They motivate me and encourage me to do the same thing.

What did you originally want to be when you grew up?

I originally wanted to be a pediatrician, but medical school scares me.

What advice would you give your younger self or someone considering a similar path?
I would tell my younger self to follow your heart. You know what is best for you and your journey. Do not let others sway you off course.

Tell us about a current achievement or something you're working on that excites you.
I am currently revising a screenplay that's very close to home. I grew up on the south side of Chicago, in Englewood, so telling stories of growing up there is a massive exploration for me. 

Tell us about a time when things did not go as you planned, what did you learn?
As I stated earlier, I didn't think I would ever go back to school because I believed that I wouldn't be accepted into any MFA programs. I tried to go right after undergrad, but it didn't work out. I learned timing is everything, and everything happens for a reason. I am where I am supposed to be.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?
I am most proud of my achievements in believing in myself and my writing. I have gained confidence in my voice that I've never had before. 

Published: August 18, 2020

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