Christina Welsh is defying stereotypes and forging new paths in the traditionally male-dominated world of screenwriting in Hollywood. She adapted Zane’s risqué novel Addicted, written for a black audience, into a sexy, provocative film of the same name.
Welsh was able to adapt it for the screen by highlighting the aspects of the story from a woman’s persepctive. She tackled the provocative and sexy story of a relatable woman who takes a turn down a dark path and ultimately realizes she’s addicted to sex. In the end, Addicted is a woman’s story relatable to mainstream audiences, adapted for the big screen by a woman, who happens to be white.
During a recent sit-down interview with Zane, this writer learned you were her top pick. How did you ladies connect?
I’ve never met her in person believe it or not. She’s always been this great voice over the speakerphone in the conference room when we had the meetings at the studio. I’d talk to her on the phone, or I’d email her. But, she was never in California at a moment that I was here and could meet with her. So, it’s one of those crazy things where hopefully I’ll see her soon [at] one of the screenings.
That is so interesting, the fact that you guys were able to pull together a film like this and you haven’t even met.
Yes, it’s amazing … the modern technology. But she was very, very accessible. And I’d hear back from her right away because she was a producer on the project as well as she should’ve been because it’s her baby, and wanted to make sure that it honors her vision and voice and her story. And, having her input helped me a lot too because I’m used to generating my own original material. This was my first adaptation, so I really made sure along the way that she was happy with what was going on. Obviously, the studio has its input, the director has his input, producers. But keeping Zane in the loop and happy was important too.
What is the process like, actually adapting a book for film? How did you spend your time working on it?
I received the book from my agent. It was an open writing assignment. They were hearing pitches from dozens of writers [who] were being submitted for this and they would have select meetings. I submitted a writing sample through my agent. On the strength of that, they brought me in. What I did is looked at the book and read it several times and just envisioned how I would make that a movie. It was a challenge because it’s 325 pages that spans 20 years and movies can only be 100 minutes. If you were doing a TV series, you could take all your time and do all that wonderful backstory with the husband and the childhood and all that great stuff. But, for me, I had to look at it and say, “Okay, how do I make this a present-day movie? How do I take this story and turn this into a 100˗minute experience for people who haven’t read the book or who have. So, it was a challenge, but with any script it’s always a challenge to figure out what can I keep and what should I lose. And looking at it, I just plotted out the present˗day of this woman [Sharon Leal] who’s very successful, has a loving husband [Boris Kodjoe], she’s an ambitious career woman with a great business and two wonderful children, and she succumbs to a sex addiction. And, she seeks help with a therapist [Tasha Smith]. So, those were really the strong points for me. Staying true to that plot, that thread of the story that takes place in the present-day. So, it took some doing to map that out. But, the studio liked what they heard. Zane liked what she heard in terms of how I figured I would turn this book into a film, and of course, things evolve and change over time. I worked on this off and on for a couple of years through many drafts and changes. You start off with a longer version of the script and then you have to cut that down. But I think we remained true to the essence of the story ˗˗ the heart of what happens to Zoe [Leal] and her journey and what happens with her family.
Have you had a chance to see the film yet?
Yes, I have. It’s been a while. I bet that you’ve seen it more recently than I have. I saw it about a year ago. So it would be fresher in your mind than mine.