You know what they say about still waters…? Trust me when I tell you there is more to Darlene Batten than meets the eye.
Sure, she’s the mild-mannered, impeccably dressed woman in accounting. Yes, she handles your paycheck and can probably advise you about your 401k. But there’s another Darlene after 5 p.m., one you may not have had the privilege of meeting. That Darlene Batten is a storyteller, a filmmaker, a writer – and she’s been creating ever since a powerful life experience put her on that path.
“I guess you could say I was touched by the Lord and was instantly delivered from things in my life,” Batten said. “I’ve been changed ever since.”
Batten began having vivid dreams and ideas that would inspire her. She started to write, using what was in her mind as fuel for her creations.
“I was writing what I saw and then when I developed the characters, they started speaking to me,” Batten said. “That’s how the process is: you hearing your characters talk and then developing them further until they start to live on their own. It’s like you’re right there in the middle of this scene, this dialogue, and you’re simply writing to capture everything that’s said.”
Although Batten wrote as a girl, she was more focused on dance, orchestrating large showcases while very young.
“I've been performing since I was a little girl but never considered myself an artist until the day I started creating my own original content, which was back in 1998 or 1999,” she said. “I wrote my first staged play and considered myself an artist at that time.”
For Batten, inspiration can come from anywhere. Music often plants the seeds of a story in her head, but whatever the plot may be, her faith is what’s guiding the course.
“The driving force behind my work has always been my faith in the Lord,” she said. “All of my content (urban or not) has – and will always have – a faith-based tone without being preachy. I consider the stage and film a pulpit for my stories to live and be received. It's up to the viewers or attendees to decide thereafter. I just point people in that direction, sharing how I made it over, sharing how the characters made it over… what worked for me after trying everything else. I've always been like that – putting my spin on things and situations – trying to bring a positive outlook to things.”
Batten’s recent work includes a film script and a music video, which she co-produced with singer and songwriter Stacey Aasiya-Bey. The song is titled “My Help,” and is the title track to one of her short films. The program that aired her video, the Gospel Music Video Showcase, is part of the African American Short Films and Gospel Music Special.
“The program that was aired on CBS in June was a big one for me. They do those African American short films and gospel segments quarterly, and I made the cut. I was happy about that,” Batten said.
“The latest magazine article dropped a few weeks ago and we’re currently working on an audiobook launch for The Prayer Warrior, which should happen sometime in August. There’s also the Christmas program we do each year, which is faith-based but contemporary.”
Batten stays busy, but not all of it is for public consumption.
“Some creations are for the public, some are just for me,” she said. “It depends.”
Writing is more than expression for Batten. It’s also exploration. Everything she writes is, in part, an extension of herself.
“Each one of these characters… there's a piece of me inside of all of them. That’s why my writing is so clear and precise,” Batten said. “It’s a part of you, a piece of you that bubbles up as you create. You get to address that and learn more about yourself. It's very cool. I love what I do. People always say, ‘But you’re in accounting!’ I tell them it helps balance me out… It’s a good balance.”