Our Chat with Devanshi Patel!
The CW has put into development dramedy Make Divya Great Again, from writer Devanshi Patel (Black-ish), Eric and Kim Tannenbaum and CBS Television Studios.
Written and co-executive produced by Patel, Make Divya Great Again centers on an Indian-American woman, who under tremendous pressure from her traditional parents, bails on her arranged marriage and invents a perfect Indian boyfriend. She then sets in motion an absurd and poignant series of events that derail her life, all while she is trying to clear her name in the darkly comic accidental death of her ex-fiance.
We had a chance to talk to her about her journey and leading up to the exciting news on her upcoming show! Check out our interview with Devanshi Patel!
In a phase where networks are at their competitive best and choosy, how does getting a Dramedy to CW feel?
It’s pretty exciting to be in the company of pilots that are in contention at the network. Especially at CW, because they impress upon depicting strong, unique voices, like those expressed in Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. So, I’m happy have this opportunity and hope to see it
Women in American Television and the idea of Equal wages – what are your thoughts on it today?
The fact that equal pay for women in any industry is still an issue is tragic. We’re still trying to break through the glass ceiling and we’re finding that it’s reinforced and double-walled. But I think all of these shows that are coming out featuring women as the central characters or a bulk of the cast is helping to turn that mammoth ship around. The more that people watch shows with female leads, the more advertising money those shows will bring in, and increase the “value” of women’s roles in television. At the end of the day, it’s a business and we in the industry need to work to reverse the wage gap, but audiences can help that by watching more female-driven shows.
Your Favorites in Bollywood and if you had to write for a Bollywood Cast, who would it be?
Oh, man. I haven’t watched a Bollywood movie in ages! I just can’t sit for that long! My favorites from back in the day were Madhuri Dixit and Rekha – she was a force!
The Weinstein story, as a Woman at your pedestal in the industry – does the expose make
you feel safer in a workplace?
Actually, yes. Not just Weinstein, but all of these prominent men being outed for their predatory behavior will – I hope – serve as a check-and- balance in the workplace. Thankfully, I’ve never felt threatened in this manner, but I do think people in power will think twice before using their power to take advantage of women and men in such a violating way.
Tips to aspiring writers or the ones wanting to pitch a pilot to the big sharks?
Work on your craft and be ready to hustle!
For those don’t know you – tell us how your journey all started and when you had a passion of
I started out doing stand up comedy in New York, which I thought would be my main gig for a while. And a friend and I would write spec scripts for existing TV shows to try to get into these writing fellowships and workshops that big networks have to nurture new writers. And I loved it. So, I kept writing spec scripts and pilots and got into a couple of these workshops. Since I didn’t have any formal education in writing, I took a couple of classes, but mostly I really studied it and
worked on it on my own and eventually, one of my scripts got me a meeting that landed me my first writing gig.
Do we see a desi Shonda Rhimes in the making – this is a big step for you and also the South Asian Community? 🙂
From your lips! Or I should say, your keyboard! That would be a dream come true for me to have multiple shows on the air at once. Right now, though, I’m concentrating on taking this first step and making it as great as it can be.
Tell us a little bit about your show Make Divya Great Again – what made you come up with this title and the concept of the show?
The title was initially meant for me, after I had a couple of pilots fall through in the development phase. So, I transferred all that hope onto this pilot to make me great again! But as I was getting to know Divya’s character and her journey better, I realized the title fit who she is and what she wants for herself perfectly. I also left it because it’s a fun tongue-in- cheek slight at all of the antiimmigration supporters for a show that’s all about the 1 st generation immigrant experience. The
concept came about when a few family members of mine were put in situations that weren’t exactly arranged marriages, but where the weddings were, let’s say, expedited as much as a grand scale Indian wedding can be. And I put myself in their shoes but twisted the idea a little so that I didn’t know the guy all that well, I’d probably run away and that would cause an absurd amount of destruction. The show is really about this desperate, misguided woman who always
makes the wrong choices in life.
You are also a graduate of the Disney/ABC writing program and a stand up-comedian how has the experience and journey been and how has it helped you get where you are today?
Stand up helped enormously in my ability to craft hard jokes. And interestingly enough, I wrote about some of my stand up experiences in a script and that’s what helped get me in to the ABC Writing Program. I loved stand up – there’s nothing more raw and intimate than trying to make a bunch of strangers laugh and it takes a specific type of personality to expose themselves to that trial by fire day after day. The Disney/ABC program cut my teeth in understanding the business of TV writing. I met some really great people in the program, who I hope to be friends with for life. It’s like going through a battle in some ways. But it also gave me more insight into how
shows are developed in terms of race, culture and trends.
South Asians are taking over a lot lately in Hollywood – Aziz, Hasan Minhaj, Mindy, Aasif and many more. Do you have any advice for South Asians wanting to break into the scene?
Yes – work really hard at it! Whatever you want to do – writing, acting, stand up – study with the greats and hustle. It’s never too early to hustle!
Lastly – when do we expect to see the show on TV for many fans asking.
I have no idea, but I highly recommend all those fans – and really, anyone with a phone – call up CW and ask them when Make Divya Great Again is coming on!
Well all we can say at UrbanAsian is we are really stoked to see this show and can’t wait to see it air on CW! CW keep us posted!