While the latest Hollywood Diversity Report revealed that “women and people of color have enjoyed notable gains relative to their male and White counterparts among the writers credited for broadcast, cable and digital television shows…both groups remain underrepresented among the ranks of credited writers across each platform, [and] only 2.3 out of 10 credited writers in digital scripted TV are people of color.”
Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done. That being said, it’s encouraging that there are programs passionate about amplifying the work of writers from underrepresented groups.
Below are 10 to consider applying to.
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The Black List/WIF Feature Residency
The Black List/WIF (Women in Film) Feature Residency is a one-year residency beginning virtually in June 2021. The program “will invite six non-professional screenwriters who are of underrepresented genders (women, NB/GNC, and/or trans, and others) to participate.” Not only will the participants be invited to virtual WIF and Black List events taking place throughout the year and into 2022, they “will be supported through arranged meetings with representation, production companies, and fellow writers to elevate their projects and career trajectories.” – blcklst.com
Submission period opened January 6th, 2021. Learn more here.
Native American TV Writers Lab
The Native American TV Writers Lab is “a five week intensive scriptwriters program that prepares Native Americans for writing careers at major television networks. The lab takes place mid – April through late May of 2021 and offers 7 Native American writers an opportunity to participate. Each participant will complete an original pilot during the five week program and receive feedback from peers and an experienced writing instructor.
The Native American TV Writers lab will culminate in a pitch workshop during the 15th Annual LA SKINS FEST in November, 2021. Each Native writer will pitch their scripts to creative executives from numerous production entities. Past executives have come from Bad Robot, ABC, NBC, Warner Bros. and literary agencies.” – nama.media.
Learn more about the application process closing March 1st, 2021 here.
The Writers Lab
The Writer’s Lab “is a four-day script development workshop that gives writers identifying as women over the age of 40 the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established writers, directors, and producers. Until this year, the retreat has been held near NYC, in the countryside: beautiful and private locations that minimize distractions and promote creativity and confidence. Through one-on-one meetings, panel discussions, guest speakers, and group meals, Mentors and Writers engage in a rigorous process that provides support in both the craft and commerce of screenwriting.” – thewriterslab.nyc
Submissions to The Writers Lab 2021 are now open, but close at the end of March. Learn more here.
WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Screenwriting Lab
WeScreenplay Diverse Voices “is a screenplay competition and lab that strives to encourage stories that are told from perspectives that are often underrepresented in Hollywood today. This includes writers of color, womxn writers, writers with disabilities, writers over 40, writers in the LGBTQ+ community, and any other voices that have historically been ignored by Hollywood.”
The Diverse Voices Lab is a one-of-a-kind lab experience. Those chosen for the lab will have a long weekend PACKED with workshops to hone their craft, mentorship calls with working writers, and general meetings with studio execs, literary reps, and more. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for any emerging screenwriter. FUN FACT — 100% of the winners from Fall 2020 found literary rep or staffing gigs through the lab!
Additionally, the winners get access to ongoing mentorship from WeScreenplay including an initial phone call, guidance for drafting query letters, research methods for finding the right representation, prep before big meetings, and strategic planning for next steps in their careers — all based on the writer’s specific goals.
Applications are now open. Learn more here.
New WarnerMedia Access Writers Program — Previously HBOAccess Writing Fellowship
Like the previous programs, the HBOAccess Writing Fellowship is top notch. This year, they’re rebranding as the WarnerMedia Access Writers Program. With a total of 8 participants in previous years, the fellowship involves a “one-week intensive of master classes, [and] 8 months of mentoring by HBO creative executives, as each participant develops a script suitable for HBO® or Cinemax®.” – hbo.com
Applications open mid March, 2021. Stay tuned here.
ViacomCBS Writers Mentoring Program
“Over 100 emerging diverse writers have graduated [from the program, and] over 75 careers have been launched.
Once a week, participants [are] invited to attend a small workshop-style meeting with various CBS showrunners and other industry professionals” as well as meeting with a network or studio exec on a regular basis. – viacomcbs.com
Applications open in March 2021. Stay tuned. Learn more here.
NBC Writers on the Verge
Writers on the Verge is a program dedicated to “polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. [They] are looking for writers who are ‘almost there’ but need that final bit of preparation with their writing and personal presentation skills. [They] particularly encourage writers of diverse backgrounds to apply.” – nbcunitips.com
They are accepting 2 original television pilots. (No spec scripts)
Applications traditionally open in May, but stay tuned here.
National Hispanic Media Coalition Scriptwriters Program
“The NHMC TV Writers Program is a five-week workshop where 10 writers write a spec script and create a mock writers room… Writers receive a small stipend. This program was created by the National Hispanic Media Coalition. Past winners have been staffed on Jane the Virgin, The Catch, NCIS, Rosewood, andElena of Avalor.”
2021 applications have not yet opened, but stay tuned here.
Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room
Sesame Street chooses “up to 8 writers from underrepresented racial backgrounds” to participate in a program that “includes eight, three-hour sessions on creating original children’s content”.
Writers get to work side by side with Sesame Street “veterans and other media industry leaders. Each participant [develops and writes] a pilot script for their own original kids concept.” – sesamewritersroom.org
While applications for 2021 are now closed, this is a great program to keep on your radar.
Learn more here.
CAPE New Writers Fellowship
CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) is dedicated to championing “diversity by educating, empowering, and connecting Asian American and Pacific Islander artists and leaders in entertainment.” – caseusa.org
This fellowship centers around a series of workshops and panels, as well as a writing lab. High level industry mentors are matched with each writer to help polish their script and transform it into a professional level writing sample.
2021 applications are now closed but stay tuned here.
Helenna Santos is an actor, writer, producer, and was the founder/editor-in-chief of Ms. In The Biz for its seven-year run. As an actor, she has been seen most recently in CW’s THE FLASH, ABC’s A MILLION LITTLE THINGS, and THE GOOD DOCTOR as well as THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB on Netflix. Helenna produced and starred in the female-driven sci-fi/thriller feature film The Shasta Triangle and the adventure movie At Your Own Risk. Her work as a contributing writer has been featured in MovieMaker Magazine, Backstage Magazine, IndieWire, Film Inquiry, and BUST Magazine, and she can often be found on panels at conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter!