“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~Anne Frank
Continuing our Dream Catcher series about visionaries who have come to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams of working in the film industry. Meet Yolanda Erica Buggs, and her “Kid Justice Webseries”.
Yolanda Erica Buggs epitomizes the dreamer who believes in “giving back” to her world. She’s mentored youth (elementary through high school), since she graduated from The American Film Institute in 2001. Her sincerity and natural abilities in working with these students led to her dream, a web series entitled Kid Justice.
When I met Yolanda, I saw compassion and caring in her eyes. She was approachable and engaging. From Decatur, Georgia, Yolanda’s initial intent for her life was to become a doctor. In 1993, she graduated from Tennessee State University, majoring in Biology. But, her heart was in writing, producing, directing so she immediately continued her education at New York University receiving a certificate in Film/Video.
From that point, Yolanda’s dream began to become a reality. By bringing together her creativity, her interests and her love for working with youth, she has developed an amazing concept that will help give back.
Q. How did you get involved in entertainment specifically and why did you make it a career?
A. Upon completing the film program at New York University’s School of Continuing Education (in 1994), I moved back home to Atlanta, and hooked up with some independent filmmakers to produce and direct short films and Public Service Announcements. As my own toughest critic, I felt something was missing in my work, and I enrolled in Georgia State University. I believed I needed to learn the art of filmmaking. It was the best decision I made, and I was soon accepted at The American Film Institute, where I graduated in 2001 with a Masters in Screenwriting.
I credit my late mentor, Darryl Nickens, along with my current mentors Bill Boulware and Sara Finney-Johnson with bringing me into the industry by immediately giving me a job right after graduate school. I was fortunate to work as a WGA writer-trainee on the sitcom, The Parkers. After my trainee term, I became a Producer for Steve Harvey and Rushion McDonald’s production company, Nu-Opp, Inc. for 3 years, moving on to form my own production company, Buggsy Productions, Inc. where I could independently write, produce and direct my own projects. In 2008, I teamed up with some of my AFI colleagues and co-produced and directed a web series called The PuNannay Diaries. In 2011, I was honored with an Outstanding Directing Award in the Los Angeles Web Series Festival. Intrigued with this new emerging web series genre, I decided to embark on creating my own web series… Kid Justice was born!
Q. How did your project unfold?
A. I realized early-on that I not only had a passion for working with youth but I was very good at it, a natural as they say in the educational field. It takes passion, patience and a special blend of no-nonsense and lightheartedness to work with our youth of today. They sense insincerity and impatience and most times they don’t respond favorably to it. I have watched poor teachers get chewed up and spit out by some young people.
I started off working in after school programs teaching writing, video production and editing classes. I then became a classroom teacher at an inner city Los Angeles high school. It was challenging some days but rewarding mostly. Through this experience, I learned our youth quickly resort to violence and verbal abuse at the first sign of what they perceive as disrespect, rather than verbalizing their conflicts into resolutions. I also noticed bullying was rampant. As their advocate, I wanted to do something about this by offering them an entertaining platform to vent their problems.
I am in a unique position to pursue this project. As an educator, I believe Kid Justice meets students’ communication needs on a consciousness level. And, as a producer/filmmaker, I also understand the television industry and what drives it. Kid Justice also offers the entertainment and marketing value that will make the brand an advertiser’s candy store.
Q. What awards have you received?
A. I am an award winning writer/producer/director. I have won writing competitions and directed short films, commercial specs, Public Service Announcements and music videos.
In, 2001 Winner of the Fox Diversity TV Writing Competition for a Malcolm in Middle spec script. In 2005 Grand Prize Winner for the Cynosure Screenwriting Competition for my feature script, Lovejoy. In 2011 Outstanding Directing in a Dramedy series for web series, PuNanny Diaries. And in 2013 Los Angeles Web Series Festival Winner for web series, Kid Justice, won 4 awards for Outstanding Producing in a Reality/Documentary series, Outstanding Hosting in a Reality/Documentary series and Outstanding Editing in a Reality/Documentary series. Additionally, we received an Advanced Selection into the 2013 Marseille Web Series Festival in France.
Q. Tell us about the process you’ve been through to garner attention for your work.
A. We are launching our website and using a petition to garner support to move Kid Justice to the next level – on TV as a series. We would appreciate any and all support from online bloggers, magazines, social media gurus and any other publications to help us spread the word to sign our petition in favor of Kid Justice. Signatures can aid in taking us to the next level. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/kid-justice-tv-series/
Q. Can you tell us about some of the people who have stepped up to support your efforts?
A. My loving, supportive mother, Josephine Buggs, stepped up and financed the making of Kid Justice. LAWEBFEST Founder/Executive Director Michael Ajakwe Jr., liked the show so much he has become one of the Executive Producers, believing it is an ideal adaption for daytime television. Priscilla Leona, Question Reality Productions, one of the Kid Justice producers, has been extremely helpful with our marketing efforts. Ernest Thomas, Toi Juan Shannon and Alvin Mount, also Kid Justice producers, have been vital components to bringing to show to fruition. I also have to acknowledge the crew, the cast and all the litigants, as well as all the parents and kind-hearted educators who played a large role in helping us locate real cases.
Q. What do you see developing in the future? Any further dreams.
A. I see Kid Justice becoming a national and international franchise. Providing a global forum for our kids is my dream and I will not stop until it happens!
Q. How can people learn more about what you’re doing? Website?
A. They can visit our website at: www.KidJusticeTV.com
They can support us by signing our petition and spreading our petition to their friends at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/kid-justice-tv-series/
They can support us by Liking us and leaving a comment at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kid-Justice-TV/192347407580197
They can support us by following us at: https://twitter.com/KID_JUSTICE_TV
Q. Do you have some advice or encouragement for “Dream Catchers” in the entertainment industry?
A. Embrace networking! Don’t forget the “business” to the “show.” As artists, we can have the tendency to hibernate inside an artistic incubator forgetting to socialize and network. It is the cultivation of those relationships that will help open doors and make a difference in your career. So take the time to NETWORK!
Q. Do you know of organizations “Dream Catchers” could utilize to further their careers?
A. Check out the resources at www.wga.org as well as the Director’s Guild and the Producing Guild. Filmmaker Magazine also offers great information.
Check out the Kid Justice series at:
Don’t forget to leave comments, sign their petition and like them on Facebook!
Dream Catcher Yolanda Erica Buggs