Universal Pictures today announced that the studio has committed to a second year of its Emerging Writers Fellowship, the homegrown program designed to identify and cultivate new and unique voices with a passion for storytelling. Supported by the film group’s Diversity Council and the NBCUniversal Corporate Diversity team, and endorsed by Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), the Emerging Writers Fellowship is one of the studio’s key initiatives designed to bolster the diverse talent within the Universal Pictures workforce, both in front of and behind the camera. The announcement was made by Universal Pictures Co-Presidents of Production, Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, who oversee the program.
“When we launched application process for the fellowship last year, we had high hopes for the program,” said Cramer. “The results have exceeded our expectations as we have been very impressed by the commitment and talent that our Emerging Writers Fellows have brought to the table these past few months.”
“Working with the writers allowed us a fresh perspective on some of our own material and we were also able to work with them on developing some of their own ideas,” said Kirschenbaum. “The process was a mutually-beneficial one that underscored our belief in this important program.”
The 2014-2015 Emerging Writers Fellows – Chandus T. Jackson, Margaret Rose Lester, Steve Martinez, Ivy Pruss and Saila Reyes – began their year-long program in May 2014 after an extensive application process that included multiple writing submissions and interviews with the program’s official selection committee. Under the approved guidelines of the WGAW and directed by Program Manager Heather Morris Washington, the fellows have participated in a number of activities designed to immerse the fellows in the film business, including filmmaker Q & A panels, studio seminars, development meetings and networking events. The fellows have been paired with both Universal and WGA-assigned mentors that include industry heavyweights such as Will Packer, Chris Morgan, Jeremy Garelick, Cheo Hodari Coker, Suzanne de Passe, David Goyer, Melisa Wallack, Craig Mazin, Melissa Stack and Andrea Berloff. The program also includes an intense series of writing assignments designed to cultivate the fellows’ storytelling abilities from idea inception to completed work.
“We congratulate Universal on the continuation of the Emerging Writers Fellowship. The initiative represents the company’s commitment to developing and nurturing unique storytellers with diverse voices. We applaud them for their efforts,” said WGAW Director of Diversity Tery Lopez.
“With the Emerging Writers Fellowship, Universal Pictures has created a fully immersive program dedicated to cultivating new voices in film with diverse perspectives,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for NBCUniversal Craig Robinson. “It has been a joy to see how this year’s fellows have progressed, and we anticipate even more success as the team begins its search for next year.”
Universal will begin entertaining applications for the fellowship’s second year on October 21, 2014. Interested applicants will be asked to submit an original feature length screenplay and other background materials to the studio for evaluation. Ten finalists will be selected and interviewed in Los Angeles. Out of that group, up to five fellows will be chosen to work for the studio over the course of one year. For information on how to apply for Universal’s Emerging Writers Fellowship, please go to http://www.nbcunicareers.com/universal-pictures%E2%80%99-emerging-writers-fellowship.
About Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.