Gentrification is a long-standing problem many urban communities face all around the US. And it impacts the lives of so many people.
That’s what Intersection is about.
It’s a dark comedy showcasing the intersecting lives between the people of a close-knit community in Atlanta and the wide-eyed opportunists that are looking to move into the area kickstarting the devastating process of gentrification.
Crowdfunded and community-supported, featuring an all-female writer’s room and produced with a cast and crew that’s not only 80% female but also BIPOC, Intersection is a perfect balance between humor and heart while also managing to seamlessly highlight many important issues that gentrification brings forth.
We had the pleasure to chat with Intersection’s showrunner Meg Messmer about the new digital series, Atlanta, where the show is set, her favorite TV shows, and so much more.
A big thanks goes out to Meg for talking to us and without further ago, here’s the interview!
Tvshowpilot: How did the idea for Intersection come about? And why did you choose to showcase all the important issues like race, gender, and class that the show touches on through the lens of gentrification?
Meg Messmer: I’ve been a gentrifier my entire adult life but only became aware of my impact about 5 years ago.
I was living in Los Angeles at the time and was watching the rapid gentrification of neighborhoods all around me. I saw lots of people priced out of their communities and started to wonder where they were going?
As a storyteller, I knew there was a story to tell, but wasn’t sure exactly what it was yet. Then I moved to Atlanta into a historically Black neighborhood.
It was 2016 and the racial tension was so palpable. I met up with a few friends (Muretta Moss and Jennica Hill) and told them my idea and they were all in. But we knew we couldn’t tell the story from just our white perspective… so we built an all-female, diverse writer’s room.
I hear all kinds of people i.e. politicians, social justice warriors, city planners, etc. say that gentrification is such a “hard issue.” It’s also very divisive. As soon as the word gets dropped, people get defensive and can’t talk about the actual issues.
If you think about it – the important issues like race, gender and class are all wrapped up in it. Old people getting pushed out because young people move in and raise property taxes. White women calling the cops on Black homeowners because they think they’re breaking in. Inflated home prices. Structural racial inequality showcasing our entire housing segregation problem in this country. It’s all there. SO much that it was hard to make a short-form series about it.
We have SO much more to cover!
Tvshowpilot: I loved how in Intersection we see the story of this neighborhood from all different perspectives from the single mom who’s about to be evicted to the out-of-touch real estate agent. How did you choose the characters whose stories you’re going to tell?
Meg Messmer: That’s a great question!
It was very important to us to tell the story from all sides because that’s why gentrification is a “hard issue.” There’s no easy right and wrong side. It’s not a black & white issue. We wanted our audience to see themselves in the characters which is hopefully easy because most of us (the writers) ARE these characters.
It was easy to write because we were writing what we know.
Muretta Moss, the actress that plays the out-of-touch real estate agent, works as a real estate agent as her side gig – so she knows this world. She has been in several situations that make your skin crawl.
Louie (played by myself) decides she’s going to flip a house to create savings for her child on the way. That’s what I did.
The soon-to-be-evicted single mom was an amalgamation of several real people whose stories inspired us.
We researched for about 2 years before we put pen to page. We drew from a lot of books, articles, and real people that we interviewed as inspiration.
Tvshowpilot: I feel like Intersection has this keen ability to balance comedy with painful issues people face every day. It had humor but didn’t make the characters into caricatures. Do you think the fact that Intersection is a dark comedy helps people connect with the message of the show better?
Meg Messmer: I really hope it does because that is exactly why we chose the medium.
We knew that if it was a straight drama it would turn certain people away. This stuff is hard to watch, especially when the character that you relate to is being “called out” in a sense.
Most of us want to just unwind or be entertained when we watch TV. So we wanted people to be able to laugh together… and then maybe when the episode finished… there would be this lingering thought that would spark conversations.
Even internal conversations are better than nothing in today’s world i.e. “Where do I fit into this equation?”
Tvshowpilot: It’s interesting that you decided to set the TV shows in Atlanta, the city of so much income inequality and turbulence. How did Atlanta play into the story that Intersection tells?
Meg Messmer: Atlanta is the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and also the birthplace of the modern-day KKK. I said it before, but the racial tension here is palpable. More than any other city I’ve lived in.
Atlanta is also what they call the “Black Mecca.” There are extremely wealthy African Americans here but it’s been #1 on the list for income inequality several times in the last decade.
It is also the first city to pioneer government housing projects and the first city to tear them down without providing alternative homes for the people in them.
Atlanta is a melting pot for so many of the issues we tackle in our show.
Tvshowpilot: Over 80% of the cast and crew were not only female but also BIPOC. Why was it important for you to have that on your set?
Meg Messmer: As the showrunner, I didn’t just want to write about the issues, I wanted to walk the walk.
The truth is, the entertainment industry is still so whitewashed. I made it a point to ensure I hired a BIPOC crew and also gave them a voice. And I’m not going to lie. It was challenging to find them.
I’ve produced several movies and commercials and most of my crew lists were white men. So I had to try harder to open my network.
I was reaching out far and wide, meeting people through colleagues and on Facebook groups. I had to convince strangers to come and work for next to nothing and they had to trust me, this crazy white woman.
But in the end, I found INCREDIBLE people. Talented, hard-working, positive people that I will go through the fire for. Our set was so full of collaboration, support, and JOY.
Tvshowpilot: You not only showran the series but were also a writer, director, and even actor on Intersection. How was the experience of wearing so many hats at once?
Meg Messmer: Haha… well…honestly… it was glorious!
Was it challenging? YES. So so so challenging. But I loved every single second of it. I was in my element.
It’s not the first time that I’ve worn many hats on a set… so that was helpful.
I’ll tell you what was more challenging… was making sure that I wasn’t overbearing or controlling or unfairly demanding.
When you’re doing so much on set it’s easy to say “no we’re doing it my way” but that’s not the show I intended to make. I had to check myself to make sure I let all the other creatives make decisions for themselves. And I’m a type-A so that was difficult at times.
Tvshowpilot: Why should people check out Intersection? What is the message you want people to take away from watching the series?
Meg Messmer: I want people to see themselves in the series. I want them to also understand an alternative perspective other than their own. I want people to think twice before they jump to conclusions. I want people to understand the world doesn’t revolve around them and that everyone has shit going on.
The world is shades of gray and we ALL need to be a little more comfortable living in those gray areas.
I also want people to be able to talk to each other and come from a place of understanding about hard issues.
Tvshowpilot: On a lighter note, since here at tvshowpilot.com we’re all about TV shows, what is your current TV obsession or a TV show you think anybody should be watching right now?
Meg Messmer: Ooo… some recent favorites were Maid, The Staircase, Succession which I love because it’s another drama with incredibly awkward funny moments in it.
I’m watching a Swedish show on Netflix called Clark. The cinematography and editing are really fun.
My guilty pleasure when I want to turn off my brain is Queer Eye. I love those guys.
Tvshowpilot: Lastly, what’s next for you? Any new or ongoing projects you can share with us?
Meg Messmer: Of course! Creators gotta create!
I have a show I’ve been developing a historical drama called The Night Witches, about the only female combat pilots in WWII. If you like podcasts, you can check out some of the real-life characters of the show here.
I am producing a film this fall in Serbia with an all-female team. And this summer, I’ll be launching a podcast called Mama Hollywood for badass females in the industry.
And there you have it, a quick interview with creative multi-hyphenate extraordinaire Meg Messmer about her new dark comedy series Intersection and some other interesting tidbits.
Follow Meg on her website and social media to keep up with all of her latest projects.
And thanks for reading!