Life is sweet for Central Islip native Tamala Baldwin, thanks to her new TV series "Bubbly Brown Sugar."
The romantic saga is the brainchild of Baldwin, who serves as writer, producer and star of the nine-episode series that premieres Friday on the Urbanflix streaming service. The story follows Jewel (Baldwin) and Caleb (Rich Lowe), two soulmates who meet in their dreams and fall in love. When they wake the next morning, they long to meet for real.
"The message is that our dreams can come true, and that we have to trust the process no matter where it may lead," she said in a telephone interview from Central Islip, where she's been staying with family during the pandemic.
The idea for "Bubbly Brown Sugar" came to Baldwin in 2017, shortly after her mother died. "I needed something to inspire me and this came to me while driving to work," said Baldwin, who has performed in musical theater for the past three years.
After penning her script, Baldwin had a table reading with some theater pals whose enthusiastic response prompted her to produce it.
"Raising the money took the longest part, but I would just talk about the project and people would say 'I want to be a part,' " said Baldwin, who is in her 30s.
She was especially happy that UrbanFlix also wanted to be a part of the mix. "I asked people if they knew of anyone looking for content, so I sent them my stuff. I heard back from them immediately," she said.
The timing for the series couldn't be more appropriate, she said. "We're in the midst of people talking about how TV needs representation from more Black writers and we need more diverse stories. All of my stories are very positive, which is something you don't see a lot of on mainstream TV these days."
Baldwin's focus on entertainment marks a major career change. After graduating from Central Islip High School, she attended Manhattan College and went on to earn an MBA in media management from Metropolitan College, where she served as an adjunct professor. She then worked in new media for several marketing agencies, but her creative bent eventually led her to show business, she said.
"I’ve always been an actress and singer," she said. "I was the creative girl in high school that would write scripts and ask teachers 'Can you read this?," she said. When one teacher suggested she enroll in the screenwriting program at New York University, Baldwin said she didn't think that would be practical and only wrote scripts for fun. "And now screenwriting is what got me here," she said.
"Here" also refers to her next project, the short film "One Wish," which she again wrote, produced and starred in and is in postproduction. She is also developing a feature-length version of "One Wish," which she hopes to sell to a major network. Naturally, she intends to star in it.
"I'm like Tyler Perry," she said. "I'm going to be in all of my stuff."