Chantel Johnson couldn’t get Sex and the City out of her head. Long one of her favorite shows, it kept cropping up in her life: pop culture references, conversations with friends, shows that made smart parodies of it, relationships of her own.
So perhaps it wasn’t such a surprise when it reared its glittered, coiffed and hairsprayed mane as she moved from New Haven to Atlanta in 2010 with the hopes of becoming a novelist. “I moved to pursue writing,” the 26-year-old said in a recent interview. But like the show’s narrator, she soon found that writing – and city life – took unexpected turns.
“I met a guy who was doing a webseries,” Johnson (pictured) explained. That was the temporary end to novel writing, and something else was born: Celibate in the City, a spinoff of her favorite show that quickly took on a life of its own.
A graduate of Hill Regional Career High School and Howard University, Johnson had always excelled at writing: the webseries marked a new iteration of it. Loosely based on her own vow to forgo sex for a summer, the series follows one woman’s mission—poorly understood and not wholly supported by her three close female friends—to stay celibate for a season. Celibate does not mean she lives without passion, however: viewers worried about missing steamy scenes, raunchy innuendo and mature humor won’t be disappointed.
To the contrary, as main character Mari’s vow progresses, her will, patience and yes, libido, are tested. Viewers get much more than Carrie Bradshaw and her giggling gaggle of girls could ever offer. If Sex and the City failed to teach sexual responsibility, as many critics complained it did, Celibate in the City deals more realistically with the protagonist’s internal struggles with sex as she considers the repercussions that it—and its absence—can have. “It’s a show that is promoting positive sexual responsibility without being preachy or judgmental” Johnson explained in a public teaser trailer (below).
The writer knows a thing or two about conflicting interests: she is a full-time preschool teacher who wants to be working full-time in film. “I’ve struggled but it’s worth it,” she said of the endeavor. “Whenever I write something I want it to be as big as it can be.”
In that spirit, she and others involved have started an indiegogo campaign to fund refilming of the series, so that she may ultimately pitch it successfully to major syndicates.
Her approach? Go big or go home. “Before we continue, we want to make sure we have the quality,” she said.
Her biggest cheerleader clarified why.
“She’s focused, she’s driven, she’s hard working, goal oriented, and…I’m excited about her project and because I feel so strongly about it,” explained her mother, Eve Johnson.
“I want to share it with the world and hopefully they will celebrate her too.”