TV Writer Podcast 058 – Janine Sherman Barrois (Criminal Minds, ER, Third Watch)

“The best writers in town have everything in their arsenal.” Janine Sherman Barrois is our guest this week, and she knows what she’s talking about!

After growing up in Massachusetts, Janine Sherman Barrois moved to Virginia in high school, and began writing for the school paper. She quickly learned that her love was not of reporting facts, but of telling stories. She attended Howard University, where on the advice of her roommate’s dad, director Gilbert Moses, she did a major in English, and a minor in film, so she could read more books.

She moved to Los Angeles… Janine is quick to remind the viewer that it took a few years of odd jobs before she was able to land her first staff gig. An important step along the way was the Warner Bros. Writers Workshop… she had previously been denied, but succeeded in landing a place in the workshop when she paired up with a writing partner.

She and her writing partner got several TV comedy staff gigs, including Lush Life, Eddie Murphy’s The PJ’s, and The Jamie Foxx Show. Then, after getting some attention from a feature script they wrote, they got a job on Third Watch. After the first season, Janine stayed in drama, while her partner went back to comedy.

After several seasons of Third Watch, Janine worked for several seasons on ER, ending up at the EP level. Then she auditioned for Criminal Minds — and is careful to point out that they actually read her writing samples, though she was an EP already — and joined the staff as EP at the beginning of season 6.

Janine was nominated for five NAACP Image Awards and a Humanitas Award for her writing. She also serves on the board of the William H. Johnson Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to giving scholarships to African-American Contemporary artists.

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