TMW Interview: Good ‘n Screwed Creator Joanna Bonaro Speaks

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by G. H. Harding 

Actress, producer, creator Joanna Bonaro has written the comedy/dramedy Good ‘n Screwed, which is being rolled out to prospective network outlets later this month. We caught up with the peripatetic Bonaro between production meetings to talk about her creation:  

Q: Tell us about the inspiration behind Good ‘n Screwed:

 A: I was inspired to create this series by my many female friends who are divorced, widowed, or who have never married.  One friend was married for 25 years and out of the blue her husband divorced her, another woman pursued her career so feverishly for 20 years never dated and now feels like a novice. 

These women now confront the daunting task of dating after 40. Their stories and other friends’ humorous and heartbreaking experiences inspired me to create this series. Women over 40 are usually portrayed in supporting roles of a certain type. There aren’t very many juicy roles that showcase this age range in all their glory; meaning reflective of all the women you and I know in everyday life. These women want to see a reflection of themselves on their nightly viewing screen.

I wrote this series to showcase our plights, concerns, desires, in an upbeat, humorous way .  Each episode explores some very true situations about self-image, sex, marriage and the trials and tribulations of dating over 40 – in all its frustrating, funny glory.

Q: How did you go about casting the show; and, tell us how Robert Funaro (Sopranos; The Sinner) came into the picture; and, give us some of the other actors involved:

 A: When I was writing the show, I had specific actors in mind.  I had worked with Bobby when he hired me for a play he was directing, and we had acted together in an Off-Broadway production at the 59 E59 St Theatre. He has a sensitivity that hasn’t been seen on screen since The Sopranos and I wanted to bring that aspect of his personality out and explore it. I also worked with Armen Garo (Gotham; Vinyl), who is extremely funny and warm, and I wanted to create that sort of character for him.  Suzanne H. Smart (Daredevil) reminded me so much of my fraternal twin sister, I knew she would be perfect for that role, portraying a confident, funny, sassy, woman.  Warren Bub, was perfect to portray my childhood friend and confidant. I cast Lori Hammel, for her comedic timing and joie de vivre.  When they all said yes, I was thrilled.

Q: How did director Kelli K. Barnett become attached to the project?

A: Kelli and I worked together Off Broadway.  I was looking for a female director and Bobby Funaro recommended her. As actresses, I knew we had similar creative process, so I sent her the script.  Being a woman, she immediately understood the lead character Nina’s quandary, especially as it pertains to women over 40.  She brimmed with ideas on how to bring these characters to life. She is truly an actor’s director.  She also brings with her a crew that is highly professional; her partner, Darryl Patterson, our brilliant Cinematographer and Stephen Fuller, our editor.  I would say that the way we all communicated and worked was like a musical score. Magic.

 Q: We understand the pilot is going to be screened next month at the Action on Film 2017 festival in Las Vegas. Tell us how that came to be:

A: We had heard wonderful things about AOF – their communication, support and accessibility to filmmakers and we knew they were very open to viewing and supporting first time writers, and directors.  So we entered.  Del Weston (AOFFEST) has been very accessible and a great cheer leader.  We are very proud and honored to have been selected and recognized.

Q: The AOFFEST has become quite the show place for new pilots, right?

A: Action on Film Film Festival 2017 has ranked as one of the Top 100 Best Reviewed Festivals on Film Freeway.  Their reviews on AOFFEST ranks in the top 2% of more than 4,700 film festivals and creative contests around the world. They provide avenues to meet with prospective distributors, to optimize your projects chances on being seen, noticed and picked up.

Q: What are some of the past acting roles you’ve been involved with?

A: Recently, I had a guest star role on Law & Order Special Victim’s Unit playing a feisty, widow from City Island. Mariska Hargitay is truly an angel to work with – I have worked with her two times on SVU and each time she is exceedingly gracious and funny too.  I appeared in Vincent Amelio’s How Alfo Learned to Love to great reviews. I enjoyed singing Mexican folk songs opposite Gael Garcia Lopez in Mozart in the Jungle. I had a memorable time filming The Sopranos with Steve Buscemi, who has sacrosanct status in my book. After the shoot we talked about Lasagna.  Working with Academy Award winner Paul Haggis, on Show Me a Hero was truly a remarkable experience. I’ll be working opposite Vincent Pastore this fall in the Renegade Theatre Production of Lovers and Other Strangers directed by Steven Van Zandt. 

Q: Some actors are not writers; you, clearly are. Tell us about the dynamic of creating your own product – what’s that like?

A: What is wonderful about writing is the ability to sit in a room, alone and create an entire world full of people who one comes to love and experience which become actively real. I have always had a very vivid imagination, and been very curious about why people behave the way they do. I want to tell stories about how people react to situations and the choices they make, along with the ramifications of those choices.  Everyone has a flip side, and everyone has vulnerabilities that remain hidden to the outside world. How does that define one? How does one rise above? When I write, I have control over the creative choices for the characters and the story and I find that very empowering and liberating. 

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