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Diverse Voices

6 Major Takeaways from the 2022 Spring WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Lab

By December 15, 2022No Comments

6 Major Takeaways from the 2022 Spring WeScreenplay Diverse Voices LabDiverse Voices is a dynamic virtual screenwriting lab with a proven track record of helping move the needle for stories that are told from perspectives that are often underrepresented in Hollywood today. This includes writers of color, women writers, writers with disabilities, writers over 40, writers in the LGBTQ+ community, and any other voices that have historically been ignored by Hollywood.

The 2022 Spring Diverse Voices Lab, which recently wrapped up, was hosted by top managers, agents, and writers, like Authentic Management literary manager Mohammed Ali, writer and showrunner Chuck Rose (The Art of More), Emmy-nominated writer Kari Stringham-Drake (Severance), career coach Jim Arnoff, and more.

The 2022 lab recently wrapped up so let’s take a look at what the participants had to say about the value it brought to their careers.

The 1:1 Meetings Are Really Valuable

WeScreenplay fosters authentic professional connections throughout the industry and uses them to thoughtfully introduce professionals to emerging writers. This is also true for finalists — WeScreenplay takes pride in maintaining connections with writers to help foster their career development, even if they don’t win a competition or participate in a lab.

Take a look at what Christopher Isenegger said about his experience connecting with the industry pros during the lab.

“What I was really impressed with and surprised by was the number of one-on-one meetings that were curated for us and our work. These were meetings I couldn’t have gotten on my own. It was interesting to hear the different perspectives from executives and reps and to hear the varied philosophies on them. Even if they were conflicting, it gave me a deeper understanding of what people in the industry are looking for and how to position what’s in my writing portfolio.”

The more you know about the industry or the person you are reaching out to, the more you can curate the information you provide in those connections. Becoming a successful writer is more than just having phenomenal writing samples — in many ways, that’s just the prerequisite.

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You’ll Get Inside Info on How the Industry Works

It’s important for writers to remember that you can’t just chase trends because everything you’re seeing on TV began development years ago. Knowing the industry and staying true to the stories you want to tell will keep your work authentic and your goals realistic and strategic. Here’s what Desdemona Chiang shared about what she learned:

“I think I already knew this before the lab but this week really hit it home: the industry is so vast. Watching something on TV is watching the final product of something that went through so many steps to get there. When we met with a rep from Sony, I became so much more aware of the number of steps it takes to get a project from its conception to the screen. It gave me perspective about how challenging the business is. If my project appeals to one person, that could be enough to move it forward. One authentic connection can help shape a project and help it appeal to more people.”

You’ll Get Valuable Facetime with Industry Pros

A benefit of an interactive lab like this is that the writers get a lot of face time with the industry pros that come in — from one-on-one sessions to generals to group meetings. It allows for creating authentic connections. Jillian Ibarra said:

“I learned so much from the mentors. It was especially exciting to hear mentors encourage us to do everything: write, direct, produce, act. One part of this business could open the door for you and then you can do whatever you want to do — for example, if you want to stick to writing only. I appreciated the honesty from the mentors. So many of them offered to read our scripts — something they didn’t have to do because they’re really busy and usually don’t read scripts from unrepresented writers.”

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The Lab Helps Grow Your Network

Having the chance to talk to industry professionals is wonderful, but another huge benefit to the lab is the chance to meet your fellow screenwriters. It’s very tempting to want to reach up the ladder and get the attention of someone who is already established with the hopes that they will launch your career, but it’s so important to foster relationships laterally. Your employment opportunities will come from your peers who are rising with you — and you’ll get to do the same for them.

Keisha Phoenixx says:

“From day one, meeting other people and meeting other writers, establishing that network, and having those connections and future opportunities to work with your friends was a major benefit of this lab. You cannot have a big enough network of people that know you or know your work.”

You Get to Peek Behind the Curtain

It can feel like there are a lot of gatekeepers and barriers to entry. The sheer number of people you’re competing with for attention or job placements can be daunting. This is why the WeScreenplay labs are designed to open doors and offer information on a professional, high-caliber level. Getting access to that kind of knowledge will set you up for success as a professional in this business.

Storm Choi dug into that sentiment, saying:

“This lab was fantastic. I think the one thing all of us emerging writers want is a peek behind the curtain. This lab gave us the perspective of managers and industry professionals. The industry shifts so quickly so it was great to learn about how things are running now.”

6 Major Takeaways from the 2022 Spring WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Lab_notebook

Learn How to Pitch Like a Pro

The more you can tap into who you are and share it confidently is a skill that will help you make authentic connections. It can feel counterintuitive to “brag” about yourself, but the truth is people want to know about you and your accomplishments. If you know their value, then you can authentically inform people about your strengths without appearing boastful. You’re simply standing in your power. It can take some practice with trusted people, which is exactly what WeScreenplay hopes to offer.

Here’s what Teddi Shaffer said about the pitching process:

“The biggest help about the lab was learning how to pitch myself and my project successfully. I think the most important point that was reiterated again and again was specificity and knowing our worth as writers and being able to communicate it concisely. Learning how to tell someone what value I bring to a project, and especially my own projects, was a huge skill.”

While the WeScreenplay labs can’t offer any promises with regard to securing jobs or representation, there are a lot of inspiring success stories to come out of labs. Most recently, after the 2022 TV Pilot Competition, Aiko Hilkinger signed with Fourth Wall Management, and Allyn Rachel signed with a Literary Agent at CAA.

The labs are mindfully crafted to strengthen writers’ scripts and hone their professional expectations. Perhaps more significantly, the labs present writers with opportunities to network with each other and connect with industry members in meaningful ways.

Read More: What Exactly is a Screenwriting Lab?

Finally, a portion of every single Diverse Voices submission is donated to charity. Since the program was launched in 2015, Diverse Voices has raised over $45,000 for various nonprofit organizations including those listed below. Thank you to all the amazing writers who’ve helped us get there — we hope that the feedback included in every entry helps show our gratitude and respect for each of you.

If you’re feeling inspired, check out details about the Diverse Voices Lab right here and keep an eye on the approaching deadlines! Happy writing!

Want more? Get an inside look at the 2022 WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Screenwriting Lab!

Shannon CorbeilShannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Her screenplays have placed in the Top 10% on Coverfly and in the Top 10% at the Slamdance Film Festival. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!