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Spotlight: Kashman Harris, Writer

Kashman writes for Eastender’s online spin-off E20, which was conceived in 2010 as the naughty little brother of the main show. The show’s writers, all aged between 17 and 22, were found as a part of the BBC’s new talent initiative. The show has created two series, and the third has been announced.

Why did you decide to become a writer?

I’m motivated by the chance to be heard, like most writers I guess. Though writing is something I developed a liking for from a young age, telling stories always seemed to have a cathartic effect on people. I wanted to be someone who could do the same.

What piece of art can you remember having an impact on you?

I remember from a young age watching a variety of TV shows, Quantum Leap springs to mind, mainly how it was my first experience with a genre hybrid of drama and sci-fi done so seamlessly. Also 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick, as it’s the most original and inspiring piece of film I’ve ever seen, it made me realise how films could pose questions to an audience and make them think.

Are there different obstacles facing black and ethnic minority writers?

If there are any obstacles it’s finding the outlets for work, but they are there, it’s just how hard you look for them. I can’t say that I’ve faced many obstacles in regards to my ethnicity. There are new schemes within corporations, such as the BBC, where they are expanding their horizons to reach groups that they wouldn’t normally. Such schemes give minorities a chance to enter the industry from a grass roots level, and that’s essentially how E20 started.

What are the common stereotypes that appear in stories about young people?

I think the common misconception is that young people, regardless of colour, have this definite, uncivilised way of talking. In other words, slang. It’s important that writers who choose to write stereotypically show both sides of the coin. It’d be wrong to act as if the stereotypes didn’t exist, but it’s also possible to have a story where young people are not represented in a stereotypical light.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a writer?

I’d recommend Talent Circle, but also joining up with your nearest theatre group, mine was the Oval House Theatre in Kennington. If you have an idea, get it onto paper as quickly as possible. Mainly it’s to be patient with yourself and understand that the results won’t come if you’re not putting just as much work in. Writing is a complicated career choice, but if you’re truly passionate about it then you’ll be able to persevere.

Follow Kashman on Twitter, and click here to find out the latest on the BBC’s E20.