Attica Locke no longer lives in Houston, but the author and producer came to Furr High School on April 27 to share tales from her journey as a writer, and to explain how her latest novel came to be named after the near-eastside neighborhood where she spent time as a child.
“Pleasantville came to my attention when my father [Gene Locke] ran for mayor in 2009,” explained Locke. “When I learned about the history of the neighborhood, I fell in love.”
Locke, who writes and produces the hit Fox series, Empire, visited Furr High School (which serves the Pleasantville area) to encourage students to share their own stories with the world. “It matters to me that young people feel their stories matter and that they understand the importance of recording their stories—be it in a poem, a rap, a short story, or a script,” she said. “I want them to understand that they can make a career from a life as a writer.”
Locke also spoke to students about segregation, the political process, and how she landed a job producing a popular TV show.
“Students had many questions about the writing and producing process,” said Furr HS Principal Bertie Simmons, who served as a regional superintendent in the Pleasantville area years ago. “Especially about the fate of Vernon Turner, a character played by Malik Yoba who was recently killed off [on Empire].”
Locke has written three novels so far, the first of which was nominated for multiple awards. She has also worked as a scriptwriter for a number of production companies, including Paramount, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO, and Dreamworks.