Chapter 1

Jade In The Rough

Part Jump

Part A
Part B

Transcript for Chapter 1

Transcript for Chapter 1A

A PHOTOGRAPHER operates a professional-looking video camera. He's shrouded in darkness; the only thing we can really make out is the large, rectangular lens hood in front.

Photographer: Give us your name, your age, and tell us a little bit about yourself.

JADE is seen through the camera's monitor. She is dressed in trendy clothes and has her hair pulled up attractively. She doesn't look attractive, though; she looks angry and resigned.

Jade: My name is Jade Smith, I'm fifteen years old, and I don't want to be doing this.

Title page: PopChromatic

Chapter 1: Jade in the Rough

Scene 1:

The chapter begins twenty-four hours prior to the opening scene.

A girl draws beetles, stars, and iconic depictions of the word “Jade” on her arm with a Sharpie marker.

The scene pulls back and we see that the girl is the Jade from the first page. But this time, Jade is dressed in a black t-shirt, black, ripped jeans, and white canvas sneakers. Her hair is unbrushed, she wears a lot of dark-colored rings and bracelets. Her left arm is covered in tiny black pictures she drew on herself with Sharpie. Double-doors nearby burst open and a horde of girls pour out into the hall where Jade is waiting.

Jade's sister, AMBER, is seen among the crowd of girls.

Amber: Jade!

Amber walks up to Jade and Jade gets to her feet. Amber is very cute and blonde, and she wears a stylish pleated skirt and sandals. She has a flower in her hair, above her left ear. She is visually quite opposite from Jade.

Jade: Hey, how'd it go? Did they make you do anything humiliating yet?

Amber: No, that was just the orientation. They taught us the rules of the audition and gave us this.

Amber gets excited and shoves sheet music to a song called “Violet Sky” against Jade's face. Jade's cheek squishes comically into the paper.

Amber: It's the sheet music for the all-new, never-before-recorded song that the finalists get to perform on live TV!

Jade takes the sheet music and studies it while Amber studies her competition, the other girls in the room.

Jade: Are you supposed to be able to read this, Amber?

Amber: Nah, it's just a formality. They're going to teach us the tune when the time comes.

Jade clutches Amber's arm and pulls her closer.

Jade: “When the time comes?” How do you even know you're going to make it far enough to need this music. Aren't there like forty-seven rounds?

Amber holds up four fingers.

Amber: Only four.

Amber leans in toward Jade conspiratorially and points at her competition, all of whom are also cute, happy, and wearing flowers in their hair.

Amber: Some of these girls are really good, Jade. They're practically perfect. Genetically-engineered, even.

Jade: Ha. I'm never taking that back.

Amber: Are you going to keep making fun of Bouquet after I join?

Jade: Again, I draw your attention to the inordinate amount of confidence you seem to have that you're going to be picked.

Jade puts her hand on Amber's shoulder and looks at her seriously.

Jade: So, one more time, let's try to put this back into perspective. Imagine you're a contestant in the Miss America pageant. All the other contestants are just as polished and cheerful and beautiful as you, okay?

Amber: Okay.

Jade: Now, imagine that instead of fifty states and Puerto Rico...

A massive crowd of imaginary Miss America contestants stretches off into the distance. They are wearing sashes that say things like “Miss Panhandle,” “Miss Long Island,” and “Miss Orange County.”*

Jade: ...we've got twelve hundred states.

Amber looks positive and sincere.

Amber: I know I'm going to win, Jade. I can feel it. I've always known it was my destiny to be a flower in the Bouquet.

Jade looks cynical and bored.

Jade: Just bracing you for reality.

Amber points to herself.

Amber: Well, you should be bracing yourself. For having a mega-famous sister!

A man in the background holds a sign that says “Group A” and is trying to get the attention of the contestants.

Amber: Oh! They're calling my group in for makeup and photos.

Amber holds her hand in front of her mouth in a coy way, like she has a secret.

Amber: I mean, according to my non-disclosure agreement, I cannot divulge anything that goes on behind closed doors. Tee hee.

Amber waves and walks away.

Amber: See you later!

Jade: Okay, I'll just be out here drawing on myself.

Jade waves listlessly back at Amber.

Jade: Or trying to find some sort of sustenance so I don't starve to death. Good luck.

Amber: There's food trucks outside!

Jade looks excited.

Jade: Ooh!

*Complete list of the “Miss Ridiculously-Fragmented America” contestants that are visible in the picture:

Miss Lowcountry
Miss Long Island
Miss Oahu
Miss West Oregon
Miss Panhandle
Miss U.P.
Miss Orange County
Miss South Beach
Miss St. Croix
Miss DFW
Miss Four Corners
Miss Nantucket
And my favorite: Miss “The Soo”

Scene 2:

A crowd of people mill around directly outside of the convention center, eating lunch, waiting in line, and talking to each other. A row of food trucks lines the sidewalk all the way into the distance. A sweaty FOOD TRUCK CHEF wearing glasses and a bandana shouts out an order number.

Food truck chef: Number 53! Cajun kimchi chow mein!

Jade shows him her ticket and accepts the food excitedly.

Jade: That's me!

Food truck chef: Here you go.

A BOY in sunglasses drinks soda through a straw and watches Jade.

Jade wanders through an outdoor eating area, trying to find an empty seat. She finally finds one and places her food on it. Steam from her food wafts into her face and she smiles.

Jade: Mmm, ethnic fusion.

Jade is eating when someone appears beside her table.

Boy: Excuse me.

It's the BOY in sunglasses from before, only now his sunglasses are hanging from the neckline of his shirt. He is dressed semi-professionally, despite the fact that he looks like a teenager, and he's wearing an official-looking badge on a lanyard. His hair is messy but fashionable, and he's grinning. He is holding a small tray of food and a sweating can of soda.

Boy: Everything's packed. Mind if I sit with you?

Jade looks up at him and sips her soda while she thinks about what to say. Then she uses her foot to push the other chair out for him so he can sit down.

Jade: Guess not.

The boy sits down.

Boy: Thanks.

There is a period of silence between Jade and the boy before the boy finally speaks first.

Boy: So, are you here for the auditions?

Jade looks unamused. She is wearing black jewelry and a black paisley bandana on her wrist, and her ears have several piercings. Her makeup is too dark for her to fit in with the stereotypical girls who might apply to join Bouquet.

Jade: Do I look like I'm here for the auditions?

Boy: I just meant, are you keeping someone company?

Jade: Oh. Yeah, my sister. You?

The boy leans back in his chair in a cool, confident way.

Boy: I'm sort of...well, I work for them. For Harrison.

Jade: You work for them? How old are you, dude?

Boy: Sixteen, but I'm like an intern, so...

Jade is focused on her chow mein.

Jade: I guess it's a good place to start. Bouquet is really popular right now.

Jade smiles up at the intern and shows him her chopsticks.

Jade: Personally, I'd rather take these chopsticks to my eardrums. But that's just me.

Jade seems pleased with her own wit and continues to eat while the intern studies her intently. She looks up and notices him staring, right as she takes a bite of noodles. She speaks with a mouth full of food.

Jade: Wuh ih zih?

The intern looks at her very intensely.

Intern: You're beautiful.

Jade looks shocked, and maybe annoyed.

Jade: Excuse me?

Intern: Not right now, obviously, with all the black and the ink, but you could be-

The intern realizes he has said something a little strange and sweats as he tries to back-track.

Intern: I mean, you are beautiful right now, very beautiful, it's just- -it's too unconventional, you know? But tear off all that black stuff and underneath it I'm sure you'd be...

The intern stops and looks introspective.

Intern: What the heck am I saying?

Jade looks disturbed and confused.

Jade: Something like, “I want you to kick me in the crotch, or...?”

The intern points at her confidently.

Intern: You have the look. Cheekbones a little too high; eyes a little too wide; good, strong teeth. Almost straight, but not too perfect. You never had braces, did you?

Jade has her arms crossed defensively.

Jade: No.

Intern: Everything about you is like that, perfectly flawed. You belong in a magazine. Or an idol group.

Jade: I can't figure out if you're gay, or if you're hitting on me.

Intern: It's just that I've been doing this job for a long time, so I've kind of developed an eye for what Harrison likes.

Intern: He likes faces with potential, you know? Pretty, but unique. That's the most important thing to him.

Jade: I notice you didn't say the most important thing is musical talent.

Intern: You could learn that, assuming you have a basic ear for music and some sense of coordination.

Jade: I could learn that?

The intern sips his soda thoughtfully for a moment before answering.

Intern: I know the general applications are closed, but I could get you an audition if you wanted.

Jade is shocked. But then shoves herself up from her chair, laughing.

Jade: Oh, I get it!

Jade leans forward onto the table toward the intern in a mock-seductive way. The intern is drinking from his straw.

Jade: You mean you could get me a private audition, right? In your hotel room?

The intern begins to choke on his soda. Without waiting, Jade picks up her food and drink and walks away from the table. She looks bored with the entire interaction. In the background, the intern continues to cough. He gets up and hurries toward Jade, and puts a hand on her shoulder to stop her.

Intern: Jade, wait, I'm not...I'm not messing with you, I swear-

Jade yanks herself away from his hand and glares at him. She's so angry that a black aura seems to be emanating from her. The intern pulls his hand back, surprised and a little scared.

Jade: How the hell do you know my name?

Intern: It's written on your arm like five times.

Jade looks down at her arm, where she had been drawing with the markers.

Jade: Oh.

Intern: See, it's not just your looks, it's things like that. Your whole attitude. I've been telling Harrison...I mean, I really think what's missing from the group is a little bit of cynicism.

The intern is getting more intense as her talks.

Listen, the only girls who audition to be in Bouquet are the ones who listen to Bouquet. That's a pretty homogeneous group of women, if you think about it.

Intern: They need someone atypical and you...I'm not kidding, you're a knockout. I think you could win this!

Jade bursts out angrily.

Jade: I think I don't care!

Intern: Whoa. Okay, I'm sorry.

The intern holds his hands up in surrender.

Intern: I mean, if that's how you really feel, I'll let it go.

Jade: Thank you.

The intern rubs the back of his head, a little embarrassed.

Intern: Want to sit back down and finish lunch? I could hit on you instead, if that would be less annoying.

Jade: It would have been, but I'll pass.

Intern: Well, who's your sister? Maybe I could put in a good word for her.

Jade: Whoa, really?

Intern: I can try.

Jade has forgotten all her anger and is suddenly quite amenable.

Jade: That would be great! Her name is Amber Smith, Group A. She really wants this, man.

Jade points to her own face.

Jade: And she's cute! Way cuter than me.

The intern grins.

Intern: Yeah, I'd have to see it to believe it.

He holds out a hand for her to shake.

Intern: It was nice to meet you, Jade.

Jade takes his hand.

Jade: You, too, uh...whatever your name is.

The intern puts his sunglasses back on.

Intern: It's Justice.

The intern walks away, but as he's leaving he gives her the rest of his name.

Intern: Justice Harrison.

Transcript for Chapter 1B

Scene 1:

The scene opens with a shot of a hotel at night; L.A. is brightly lit and filling up the background.

Jade and Amber are walking through the hall toward their hotel room and talking.

Jade: Hey, when you were back in those recording areas, did you hear anything about a guy named-

Amber: Jade, you know I can't talk about that stuff. Remember my non-disclosure agreements?

They reach the door.

Jade: Yeah, but I'm not trying to-

Amber: Sorry, my lips are sealed!

The lock mechanism inside the door clicks and whirrs, and Amber opens it. They go inside, and we see MOM sitting on one of the hotel beds, watching TV. Mom is holding Jade and Amber's little brother, MICA, who is about six months old.

Jade: We're back!

Mom: How's it going? Did they pick you, yet?

Jade grins, but Amber looks serious.

Jade: They told her she sings like a bleating sheep, so she'll probably be in.

Amber: I do not sing like a sheep. I sing like an angel.

Jade: A bleating angel.

Amber lies down on her stomach on the bed and rubs Mica's head. Mica is happy. He wears a cloth diaper and a long-sleeved shirt.

Amber: Anyway, it's too early for them to pick anyone. There's still three rounds left, remember?

There is a closeup on Mom. Mom is a good-natured woman who looks a lot like Amber, with blonde hair and light eyes. Her style is bohemian, and her hair is long and pulled back with a paisley scarf. She wears a soft, comfortable dress.

Mom: I remember, and it's not like I'm in a hurry to abandon you to L.A. But it would be nice if they'd choose some girls and get it over with.

Amber looks up at her mother, very earnest.

Amber: Are you sure you're going to be okay with it if I get in? I know how much you hate the entertainment industry.

Jade is sitting on the edge of the bed in the background, watching the television show her mother was indulging in before the girls arrived. A black panther slinks around on the screen and Jade looks back at her mother, smirking.

Jade: Yeah, especially nature shows. Those monsters.

Mom: I don't care about the entertainment industry. I care about the fact that I'm hardly going to see you anymore. But I can handle it. You can't pass up this opportunity, Amber.

Jade is listening seriously to this conversation and thinking to herself.

Jade: [I have no idea how they can talk about this like it's a sure thing.]

Jade remembers what Justice said to her that afternoon.

Jade: [Then again, if this Justice guy is legit, and if he's telling the truth about my “look,” maybe it's not such a long shot.]

Jade imagines herself standing back-to-back with Amber, and we see that they are actually mirror images of each other, although one is “dark” and one is “light.”

Jade: [After all, Amber and I have all the same features. It's only because our styles are so different that most people never realize we're twins.]

  • Author's note: Looking back on it, Jade's mom bears a striking resemblance to Jesse's real-life mom.

Mom stands up, holding the baby. Amber is gazing at Mica with affection in her eyes, and Mica is smiling at her.

Mom: Alright, which one of you wants to watch the baby while I get out of this hotel room and find some food?

Jade raises her hand quickly.

Jade: Ooh! I'll do it!

Mom, Amber and Mica all look at Jade in surprise. Mica actually looks a little suspicious, for a baby. Jade stands up and reaches out to take Mica, who seems worried. Jade is smiling.

Jade: The two of you should go together. Mica and I are finally starting to bond...I think.

Jade uses both hands to hold the baby at arm's length. Mica doesn't seem very happy. Jade has one eye squinted shut, as though she's waiting for him to start crying. When it's apparent he's not going to cry, she looks back at her mother with a triumphant grin and holds Mica up so Mom can see that he's not crying. Although, from our perspective, it looks like he might start at any moment.

Jade: See?

Mom seems nervous, but she smiles.

Mom: I see.

Mom and Amber prepare to go; Mom has put on her sweater-jacket and gotten her purse.

Mom: Just...try to remember that we don't use Windex on the baby. And call Amber's phone if you have any questions.

Jade smiles and waves as Mom and Amber leave. She's finally holding Mica in a normal way, upright against her chest with one arm. He's holding on like a little baby chimp and watching his mommy leave.

Jade: Okay.

The door closes with a click.

Jade looks down at Mica. He looks up at her.

Jade: Sorry, Mica. I know you'd rather hang out with Amber, but your other big sister has some detective work to do.

Jade sits on one of the beds and puts Mica in her lap. His head is propped up against her chest as she looks up stuff on her phone. Jade talks aloud about the things she finds, ostensibly “to Mica.”

Jade: Let's see. There's nothing under the name “Justice Harrison.” Let's look up his dad. Okay, here we go. David Harrison, forty-eight, creator and producer of “The Harrison Group,” Reagan Lacey, The pop behemoth Bouquet, and all other related acts. Currently not married, but he has one sixteen-year-old son with his second wife. There's like one picture on the entire Internet of Harrison with his son, and the kid looks about eleven. But it's definitely Justice.

In the background we see images from her research, including the Bouquet logo and the candid picture of Harrison with a much younger Justice. Justice is grinning directly at the camera, but Harrison's face is conveniently obscured by a speech bubble and we don't get to see it, yet.

Jade: Sheesh, he must have been really sheltered growing up. Or at least trained not to throw his name around wherever he goes.

Mica has fallen asleep against Jade's chest. Jade looks up thoughtfully.

Jade: So, then, why did he give his name to me so easily?

Suddenly, the hotel room phone rings and breaks Jade out of her daydream. She jumps and pulls her arm in front of herself defensively.

Jade: Gah!*

Jade picks up the phone.

Jade: He- hello?

Phone voice: Mrs. Smith?

Jade: She's not here right now. This is her daughter.

Phone voice: Which one?

Jade seems annoyed. She might recognize this voice.

Jade: I don't want to answer that.

*Author's note: It totally looked like Jade was punching Mica in the face, so it got a “gah” bubble.

We see who is on the other line. It's Justice, talking to her through his cell. He's smiling.

Justice: It's Jade, right?

Jade is still irritated. She's standing beside the bed, cradling the sleeping Mica in her left arm.

Jade: Maybe.

Justice: This is Justice.

Jade: Who?

Justice: Come on, you know who I am. I'll bet you already Googled me.

Jade purses her lips.

Jade: No.

Justice is sitting in a big armchair, looking at his tablet while he talks.

Justice: I'm calling to see if there's any chance you reconsidered that audition.

Jade: No, I haven't. No offense to you and the father-who-must-not-be-named, but the idea of being part of a dancing, singing troupe of trained monkeys in sequined tankinis verges right on my concept of hell. So, thanks, but no thanks.

Jade smiles, inspired.

Jade: Besides, you have my sister, and she looks just like me. So take her.

Justice: Yeah, I saw her on the tapes today. She does resemble you.

Jade: Resemble? We're twins, dude.

Justice: Resemble. The features are all there, and I tried to sell her on my boss, but he likes the vid of you much better.

Jade is surprised and angry.

Jade: What vid?

Justice: The one I took while you were ordering chow mein.

Jade freezes, visibly shocked. She is holding the receiver three inches from her head and her arm is shaking. She puts the receiver on the bed and walks away. She very calmly places Mica in his playpen; he continues to sleep. Then she walks back around the bed toward the phone. A tiny voice from the phone receiver says, “Hello?” Jade picks up the phone and puts it to her ear. Only then does she allow herself to get angry. She grits her teeth.

Jade: I never gave you permission to film me.

Justice isn't very bothered by her anger. He's still smiling.

Justice: Sorry, I didn't realize until after I said it how that might sound to someone who isn't from around here. But you have to understand, people walk around L.A. just praying to be filmed, or even noticed at all. It's the way I was raised, I guess.

Jade: You were raised to be a voyeur?

Justice: Yes, but probably not like you're thinking. Voyeurism loses its appeal when you do it for a living.

Jade: What do you want from me, Justice? I already told you, I don't want to audition. Just take Amber, okay?

Justice isn't smiling anymore.

Justice: And I already told you, I can't. Amber's good, I'll admit it. She has the looks and the talent, but she's not powerful enough to stand out from the girls we already have. She's sweet and likeable, so she'll go all the way to the last round. She's good TV, but she's not going to win. I'm sorry.

Jade: You already know when he's going to cut her?

Justice: Harrison's letting me intern this year, but I've been a part of this my whole life. And I'm very familiar with the guy obviously. So, yes, I know when she'll be cut. I can read it like a road map.

Jade has her eyes closed and her face in her hand, very distressed.

Jade: I never expected Amber to win this thing, but to get so close, only to be crushed...

Jade: This isn't fair. So you're telling me she's going to lose because she's not as bitchy as me?

Justice: I wouldn't have put it that way, but...

Jade: Then make her your cynic!

She grabs the front of her own shirt and pulls it away from her body.

Jade: Dye her hair! Take her to Goodwill and let her pick out some t-shirts!

Justice: You're smarter than that. The idea isn't to take a princess and make her a badass.

Justice is energized and confident.

Justice: The idea is that if you take a badass and make her a princess, she'll still be a badass underneath. The audience will be able to see it, and they'll think they're smart for figuring it out, and it'll drive them crazy. They're going to love you, Jade.

Jade starts to well up, to her frustration.

Jade: [Oh, man. It wasn't supposed to turn out this way. This isn't my dream.]

Jade: Please, Justice. You have to help Amber. I don't want to to join your group, and I definitely don't want to join if Amber's going to get rejected. But she really, really wants this.

We see Jade from behind, and have to guess at her expression.

Jade: And I really want her to have it.

Justice: Really?

Jade: Of course!

Justice: How bad do you want it?

Jade is caught off-guard by the question.

Jade: I...I don't know...

Justice is framed by a black background, his eyes shadowed, and we only see the bottom half of his face.

Justice: Bad enough for that private audition you thought I was offering you before?