April 8, 2016
For Yvette Freeman '15, it's all about the stories. Most of her life, those stories have been shared through the characters she's played on television in such notable shows as "ER," "Days of Our Lives," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Pretty Little Liars" and "Orange is the New Black."
"I love stories, just like the cavemen of old," she said. "When I'm told a good story, I am transported. The problems in my life disappear, and I learn valuable life lessons."
While her primary passion has been acting, Freeman always wanted to tell the stories of African-Americans. "There are many more stories about African-Americans than have been produced," she said. "For instance, how about stories about President Obama, Clarence Thomas, Maxine Walters, Mahalia Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald and so many others? Or stories about the common black man and woman - how did they survive and pass their knowledge on to their children?"
Freeman was ready to tell those stories - and share a few of her own. It was time to pursue a master's degree to guide those stories to the page. She opted for Southern New Hampshire University's (SNHU) online Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in Screenwriting to help her on her way.
An SNHU television commercial caught Freeman's attention, which led her to the university's website. When she learned that SNHU is accredited - and "I could continue my life and work at my pace - anywhere in the world" - it cinched the deal.
Writing's been in her blood from an early age. "I was a closet writer, but one day I decided to write a story about Dinah Washington," Freeman said. "I did research and interviewed many famous people who knew her." She even sang with Washington's husband, Eddie Chamblee, in the Village, to prove that she was worthy to play his wife. That did the trick and Chamblee assisted with lots of information that allowed Freeman to flesh out her story.
"The show, 'Dinah Was,' moved from Los Angeles to New York City," said Freeman. "I won an Obie Award for portraying this pioneering woman." While she gave up her writing credit to another writer, who had far more power and the right connections, Freeman still receives royalties from the show whenever it is performed.
She continued to write throughout the years - finally realizing that she wanted to further her education in order to share her own experiences and stories. "Like most aging actresses, I would like to pass on my knowledge and a degree gives me better credentials," said Freeman. "I've been doing acting workshops for years, and now I would like to work on the university level or open a school. I want to give back."
For Freeman, earning her online master's in English and creative writing with a concentration in screenwriting was a positive experience. "The teachers that I studied with were all great; some harder than others, but boy did my world open up," she said. "I loved reading all the books and writing what I thought about them. Working with blogs and other students from around the world is enriching. In other words, I loved the experience."
Education, through an online creative writing degree, has helped Freeman become a disciplined writer. She writes an hour or two every day now, and said the more she writes, the better she becomes. She has goals: "Everybody in Hollywood has a screenplay in their drawer," said Freeman. "I want to pull mine out and get them made. No more hiding."
As for others considering an online creative writing degree, she said, "Study. Read everything you can get your hands on, write every day, find your own voice and don't hide your writing in the drawer. Be bold - let the world into your world and you will get back what you give."
Are you ready to tell your story? Learn more about SNHU's online creative writing degrees at the bachelor's and master's level today.
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