Growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s, Gabryelle McKetney recalled an abundance of media representation for young black girls.
The Queens Village native and screenwriter watched shows like “Sister, Sister” and “Moesha” and said that those programs made her “the way that I am.” So when she started writing her new comedy series “Saint,” she set out to create something in which her children and other young people of color could see themselves.
“Saint” follows 14-year-old student as she navigates puberty and being a black girl at a predominantly white all-girls school in Queens. McKetney wrote the series in the style of “Malcolm in the Middle” wherein the main character shares her inner monologue with the audience.
“I wanted to capture what it’s like to be a teen in New York. There were shows like ‘Gossip Girl,’ but I wanted to create a show about people in the middle — not poor and not rich. Those kids are most of us,” McKetney said.
Series co-producer and director Jourdan Guyton agreed that there is not a lot of “quality content” for teenagers today, especially not shows that represent black teens. She said that she and McKetney wanted to bring about a “teen TV renaissance” that would restore innocence to youth programming.
“[‘Saint’] tells a great story and there’s a void for this kind of content,” Guyton said. “We want people to see their mom, teachers and bodega man and make it as authentic as possible.”
Episode themes cover “regular teen things” according to McKetney, including sibling dynamics, choosing family over friends, love and the line between being a child and being an adult. The creator said that the title “Saint” is a play on words.
“Are teenage girls really well behaved? That’s the fun in the title. The audience will meet characters with layers of personality,” McKetney said.
During filming, McKetney highlighted the importance of scouting locations that Queens residents would immediately recognize. Guyton said that the borough acts like a character in the series and includes well-known businesses, streets and landmarks.
McKetney shared that “Saint” features places she frequented when growing up in Queens including Gaby’s Pizza, Francis Lewis Boulevard, Archer Avenue and several Catholic schools in the borough. She added that she wanted the scenes to be a “time capsule of Queens.”
“I wanted to show that this is what our neighborhoods look like,” McKetney said.
The pair are currently in the process of pitching the series to several networks but there is no set release date.