Lots of people who work in entertainment describe their passion for the arts as a lifelong dream. As a child, Beverly Nuako didn’t have to look far beyond her family’s suburban Maryland home for career inspiration.
“My parents are originally from Ghana. They’re very stylish, and really embraced classic Hollywood cinema from the 1950’s Golden Era. So that’s what I grew up watching.” Beverly recalls sitting on the floor of the living room watching I Love Lucy and The Twilight Zone.
“I thought, I want to do that,” she says. “I want to create entertainment that makes people feel something. So since I was little, I’ve always wanted to do something in entertainment, and up until now it’s been figuring out how exactly I was going to do it.”
Beverly’s journey started out at Discovery Communications, where she was able to work on projects across the company’s range of networks, including Science Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, and OWN. After two years at Discovery, things were going great. She had a comfortable position with a nice salary and benefits. But while she was working in the entertainment industry, she didn’t feel like all of her dreams were being realized.
“It was broadcast cable, but I really had a strong desire to do film. I felt like the only place where I could do that was Los Angeles.” On Valentine’s Day of 2006, Beverly packed up her life and headed to L.A. At first, things went well. She spent a couple of weeks working on commercials and music videos, and those jobs led to a fairly stead stream of work. Then, seemingly without warning, the work dried up.
“You hear about that happening,” says Beverly. “But I was young, and so excited to be in L.A. that it didn’t really click. So when it happened, it hit me hard.”
Beverly turned to temping, where she was able to work at a variety of production companies. Working for other people was a way to pay the bills, but what she really wanted to do was start her own company. That’s when she decided to enroll in Full Sail’s Entertainment Business Master’s program online.
“I knew that the program would help me formulate my business plan,” she says. “I was working on what my product and service were going to be for the production company I wanted to start, and I decided that my product was going to be this movie—a romantic comedy about a mystery writer trying to find his way. He writes under a pen name, and even though he’s extremely popular and a bit of a ladies man, he realizes that’s not the kind of writing he ultimately wants to do.”
By the time she finished her Entertainment Business degree in 2009, Beverly had a 25-page treatment for a story she was calling “The Write Man.” Eager to get started, she got incorporated and started looking for investors.
“I failed miserably,” she laughs. “I probably should have waited to start my company, but I learned so much in the process.”
The biggest takeaway from that experience was that her product was more than just a treatment. In order for her to succeed, it needed to be an actual screenplay. So that same year, Beverly again turned to Full Sail, this time enrolling in the Creative Writing for Entertainment MFA program. After graduating in 2011, she worked with her writing partner, Hanz Wasserburger, to complete the script. The duo pitched it to several production companies, and one of the first to show interest was Hallmark Channel. Although Beverly hadn’t originally intended her script for the small screen, she went with Hallmark because she felt they really got the heart of the story she was trying to tell.
“We learned a lot about taking constructive feedback. Originally, we wrote the screenplay for a film format, which has three acts. Now, we’re doing it for television, which has eight acts. You have to factor in things like commercial breaks, balancing dramatic tension, and pacing the story. We learned to pick our battles in order to move the project forward. Ultimately, everyone had the same goal. We all liked the story and wanted to see it get made,” she says.
Among the biggest changes was the movie’s title. In January of 2015, the newly dubbed “A Novel Romance” premiered on the Hallmark channel. The film stars Amy Acker and Dylan Bruce, and fared well enough for the channel to schedule an encore showing April 11 at 6 p.m. EST.
The success of the movie has allowed Beverly to continue her mission of facilitating good entertainment. In 2014, she was brought on as a Media Fellow for the African Technology Foundation. Founded by Relativity Media International Advisor Stephen Ozoigbo, the foundation seeks to globalize technology in Africa by addressing technological needs within communities. Africa has a long history of film production—Nigeria’s film community, known as Nollywood, is one of the largest in the world. Now, other countries such as Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Rawanda are experiencing cinematic booms as well. As a Media Fellow, Beverly organizes and oversees projects between young filmmakers from Africa and production companies in the United States.
“It’s about making connections,” says Beverly. “This work resonates with me because Africa is close to my heart, given my background. And since I also have a background as a writer and producer, I can bring that passion to the job as well. It’s a great balance.”
For the woman who still remembers herself idolizing Lucille Ball and Rod Serling as a kid, the road hasn’t always been a straight shot. It took a lot of figuring out to find her place in the world, but for Beverly, the path to self-discovery has allowed her to achieve success beyond her wildest dreams.