Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Private Life of an American Mom - Characters (3)

Monique is a thirty-something black woman. She, like Mom, is the mother of a 4 year-old and a 2 year-old. Do you ever meet someone and just “click”? You feel instant attraction to them, you just know that given a chance you two could share entire conversations with a series of facial expressions. It’s the best thing in the world when that feeling is mutual. Mom and Monique are both strong, smart women who struggle in their role as Moms. Their friendship is immediate, fun, and powerful. One characteristic that Mom and Monique share is that they make decisions based on logic. I used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI) personalities to define, shape, and understand how the main characters would act and what they would say. Monique is an INTJ. She is incredibly smart, driven, and does not tolerate fools. Think Olivia Pope from Scandal, with a few more chinks in her armor - she is a Mom after all. Monique copes with her mental health issues by a means that is all too common. In a lot of ways she is the hero of this story, and provides an object lesson that our weaknesses do not define us and admitting them allows our strengths to shine.

One of my pet peeves that often appears in movies and novels is the impression that the minor characters only exist in reference to the primary character. In rom-com movies there is often the “best-friend” caricature. This role provides some humor and way to discuss the primary character’s struggles. All too often the secondary characters are given no appearance of any interests other than how they serve the primary character. While writing, especially all scenes with Monique, I wanted the audience to have the impression that the story could have just as easily focused on another Mom from the group. I imagined Monique as the star of her own parallel movie and Mom could be her “friend” in that story. Monique is NOT a secondary character in “The Private Life of an American Mom.” I hope audiences leave with the impression that Mom and Monique were co-Main Characters and that their friendship is based on mutual respect and commonalities. Neither is dominant, both are strong, because strong women crave challenge even in their closest relationships.

The name Monique has multiple etymologies: from Greek it means “alone” or “one who advises,” from Latin it means “counselor,” from French it means “madonna” or “wise.” It was perfect for the role of this character. Monique stands alone. She often feels alone, she is not afraid to stand out and she stands up for others. PLAM’s Monique embodies all of these meanings.

A little bit about the Myers-Briggs personality types: this psychological assessment tool was developed by a Mother-daughter team! Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, created this practical application of psychology theory after studying Jung’s work. If you want to learn more about MTBI personality types, these are some of the sites I used for researching the characters in “The Private Life of an American Mom”

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