Trying to meet everyone else’s expectations leaves little room for your own.

Deepa’s father wants her to go to Cal Tech and become an engineer, her mother and aunties want her to be an obedient good-girl, and her teachers expect her to excel in every subject. Even BFF Madison thinks Deepa should live and die to win the state math tournament.

As Deepa works to fulfill everyone’s dreams, she resentfully abandons her own.

But when a mysterious grandfather she never knew existed arrives, he inspires her to pursue her true passions: art, and the super cute Micah. Soon, Deepa is sneaking about with Micah, secretly applying to art college, and entering a prestigious art show. For a minute, Deepa seems to have it all.

But when the art show opens, Deepa’s paintings convince some she may be a terrorist!

Deepa’s world collapses. She’s suspended from school and faces possible expulsion. Her father accuses her beloved grandfather of being a bad influence and threatens to send him back to India. Public protests against Deepa grow, and even her parents receive thinly veiled threats.

Bad gets worse when Micah learns Deepa kept their relationship a secret and dumps her. Even BFF Madison storms off, claiming Deepa ruined their chance at winning the state math tournament. Meanwhile, both Cal Tech and art college are no-goes if Deepa can’t convince the school board to readmit her.

In trying to forge her own path, she’s created roadblocks to all of them!

  • Laura Jaques
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Comedy, Dramedy, Teen
  • Number of Pages:
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
  • ETHOS Film Festival
    Las Vegas, NV
    August 1, 2019
    Grand Jury Winner - Impact Award (only one script received an award in 2019)
  • Script Summit
    Las Vegas, NV
    August 1, 2019
    Best Theme
  • Indie Gathering International Film Fest
    Mentor, OH
    August 11, 2019
    3rd Place Drama Script
  • BlueCat Screenwriting Competition

  • PAGE Awards Finalist - Drama

    September 15, 2019
  • Academy Nicholl Quarterfinalist

    July 25, 2019
  • Oaxaca Global Script Challenge Finalist

    October 9, 2019
  • Lonely Seal Film Festival - Best Feature Script
    Boston, MA
    October 13, 2019
    Best Feature Script
  • Austin Film Festival Second Rounder

    September 10, 2019
  • Emerging Screenwriters Drama Competition

    June 29, 2022
Writer Biography - Laura Jaques

Laura Jaques, MFA, writes high concept comedies and dramas with timely story lines and memorable characters. Highly collaborative, she delivers well-crafted, marketable scripts tailored to production needs.

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Writer Statement

DEEPA BY DESIGN is intended to express universal themes within a culturally diverse setting.

I set this story within the South-Indian American community because I know the culture well (thanks to my husband & in-laws!) Despite the recent upsurge in requests for diversity in films, we rarely see this community portrayed. South-Indian culture is unusual in that it contains a large Catholic population, common in its emphasis on duty, food, and aspiration, and universal with its struggle of tradition versus modernity.

Thematically, the challenge of women to prioritize their dreams and fully assume their true identities has long fascinated me. The interplay between one’s personal desires and familial duties, as well as cultural norms and expectations, is a struggle I think most women can relate to. Understanding that the struggle is not limited to women, I’ve included a male character, the grandfather, who embodies a cautionary tale of all that is lost when cultures refuse to allow for individual expressions that contradict norms.

I personally have benefited enormously from reading and watching characters who prove more powerful than they could have imagined once they claim and use their voice, and I hope that my characters can serve the same purpose for others.