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A Houston Filmmaker Takes On the Hollywood Scene

Aryka Randall’s gay comedy series begins streaming on October 24.

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Aryka Randall’s new web series LA Influencer Handbook stars Julian Dewitt (l), Zelda Kimble, Inès Francè Ware, and Damaris Chambers (courtesy photos).

You know those people whom you’d love to work with, be friends with, or just hang around? They have a sort of magnetism or vibration about them that makes you think, “I bet they’re up to something really cool.” Writer and filmmaker Aryka Randall is one of those people, and her latest production, titled LA Influencer Handbook, is that “really cool” thing she’s up to.

Aryka Randall

Randall, a 34-year-old California native, says her new web series, which drops October 24 on her website, is definitely a product of the quarantine. “After watching influencers on TikTok and Instagram either go on content creation overload or go totally quiet, I [realized] how out of touch with reality a lot of them are. It’s entertaining and kind of scary, which makes for great material.” 

In the story, Erin, the main character (played by Inés Fránce Ware) moves to Los Angeles from Oklahoma in hopes of becoming an influencer after promising herself that she’d land a job in the industry, like her late mother. “Viewers can expect to see Erin used as a vessel to explore the dark side of the entertainment industry,” Randall says. “The show is definitely a comedy!”

But why should viewers tune in? “Simple,” Randall says, “because it’s awesome! It’s comical, relatable, eye-opening, and very gay.” Film is so very important to Randall because she believes that representation matters. “Stories matter. Entertainment is also a great escape when reality gets to be too much.”

As a young girl, Randall had a pretty wide range of interests when it came to who she wanted to be. “I wanted to be a pizza delivery girl or a singer on Broadway,” she says. Because of her love for film, she ended up doing something a bit closer to Broadway, a field far removed from the degree in forensic psychology she earned at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The same can be said about her career path. Randall thinks the best word to describe her work is “random.” She has always enjoyed writing and creating, but it took her a long time to realize she could make a career out of it. 

She became interested in film in her 20s, after adapting a novel into a web series called Girl Play TV, which follows a group of queer friends in New Orleans and can be viewed on Dailymotion. Toward the end of her twenties, Randall tried adapting a series of personal short stories to film. After that, she was hooked. She knew film was “her thing” because it made her happy, and she sticks with it, regardless of how challenging it can be. “It’s like a healthy relationship,” she says. “Honestly, storytelling and watching a group of people work toward a common goal is really cool to see.”

Randall now has her own production company, where she produces, casts, and writes screenplays. She runs a photography business and operates The Fab Femme Mag, a fun branded apparel line featuring tie dye and heat transfer vinyl she makes by hand.  The magazine is set to start a YouTube channel this fall. “We started off on YouTube and moved to WordPress, and now we’re getting back to our roots!” 

Although Randall considers herself a Houston girl these days, she has temporarily moved back to California to care for her 94-year-old grandfather after her grandmother passed away in February. “I wouldn’t have felt right being in Texas knowing he was by himself,” she says.

When it comes to her career path, Randall thinks the best word to describe it is “random.” She has always enjoyed writing and creating, but it took her a long time to realize she could make a career out of it. “Filmmaking has truly become the love of my life. For me, I’m coming full circle. My career in the entertainment industry started as a child [when I modeled] for print ads that evolved into small acting roles, and an affinity for Broadway.”

Randall also has a book out, titled She’s Just Not That Into You, which is all about love and dating as a queer woman. “I’ve been quietly working on a second book that revolves around self-improvement. So, that’s very exciting as well.”

In the end, no matter what else she’s dabbling in, her heart belongs to film. “Screenwriting has become the apple of my eye. In addition to everything else, I’m working on multiple screenplays as well as preparing to obtain a literary film manager, someone who helps you develop as a screenwriter and obtain contracts and gigs on larger scale productions. My goal is to obtain a manager before Spring 2021. That is very exciting. Outside of that, I’m just living life and counting my blessings.” 

And that, above all else, is something Randall encourages everyone to do. 

Stream LA Influencer Handbook starting October 24 at arykapproductions.com/la-influncer-handbook.

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Jenny Block

Jenny Block is a frequent contributor to a number of high-profile publications from Huffington Post to Playboy, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex, and O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm. She has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs from Nightline to BBC Radio, and has spoken in bookstores and at events all across the country. Block is also a featured performer on Olivia Travel cruises and resorts.

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