“Beauty Queen,” a new short film produced by the Michigan Creative Film Alliance, that recently premiered at the Detroit Film Theatre, tells the story of a young girl who competes in beauty pageants to pay for her musical education.
However, her world is turned upside down after she’s diagnosed with alopecia, a condition that causes her to lose her hair.
For screenwriter Kelci Parker, the story is more than a work of fiction. The 23-year-old University of Michigan graduate wrote the script after her professor challenged her to “write about what you know.”
Being diagnosed with alopecia at age 6, the subject is something she knew very well.
“I was completely bald by 7. I stopped wearing my wig when I was 13 and I tried to get my other friends with alopecia to stop wearing their wigs and be comfortable with who they were,” says Parker. “It was hard to write about it at first, but then I started to develop a passion for it.”
Parker knew she wanted to write about a teenager dealing with alopecia but she wasn’t sure of the setting. Parker says that she originally intended for the film’s main character, “Alex,” to run for homecoming queen but later decided she should be a successful pageant queen.
“I wanted to raise the stakes because when you are writing, you need to have a character that does something but everything is taken away from them,” says Parker.
“So, it was an easy world to put her into where everything would be kind of rattled because pageants are not all about looks-but it does depend a lot on looks.”
The film was produced by students who are a part of the Michigan Creative Film Alliance, a joint venture between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.
Parker says in the making of the film, the crew ran into some problems, one of them being creative differences.
“Whenever you take a project you wrote and give it up, you give up a little of your creative freedom. I don’t think it will be the same how I envisioned it but that’s what happens when it goes from paper to screen,” says Parker.
“It was hard trying to make the production work because each school does production differently and when you bring them all together that’s a hard balance to figure out. But I think, at the end of the day, we did figure it out.”
Parker says that after watching “Beauty Queen,” she wants her audience to leave with confidence.
“Alex needs to figure out whether or not she can win the pageant and deal with her emotional issues at the same time because she feels like if she doesn’t have hair there is no way she can win,” says Parker.
“It’s not all about the way you look. There is more to a person than that. Be yourself. If someone doesn’t like you for being yourself, than they don’t deserve your friendship.”
Parker’s second screenplay “Shark Tank” was developed into a short for the Traverse City Film Festival. Parker is currently working in Los Angeles as a creative assistant for Dickhouse Entertainment.