The eight month mentoring program will match the selected writers with ViacomCBS mentors to help them create new content. After the mentoring period, the authors take part in a 16-week workshop in which they get to know the specifics of the television industry. During this mentoring period, the authors also have access to agents, executives, showrunners, and producers.
“Our program is focused on professional growth by supporting aspiring writers in their craft and by providing opportunities to build relationships with executives and showrunners on the network,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, executive vice president, Entertainment Diversity and Inclusion , Global Inclusion, ViacomCBS. “All of the attendees from last year are now engaged in network shows, including Mother, Taurus, Magnum PI and the one ahead The equalizer and Clariceand many of our alumni have become executive producers and showrunners on various television series. ”
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Read more about this year’s participants below.
Sara Casey, Comedy-Autorin::
Sara Casey is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Raised by journalists, she decided to go in an entirely different direction and make up stories to make a living. After moving to Los Angeles, she graduated from UCLA with a BA. Casey was previously a nonfiction coordinator at Showtime Networks and is currently supporting a showrunner at Netflix. Her work has been performed at festivals across the country and her directorial debut Abortion desert, won Best Short Narration at Atlanta Comic Con.
Yakira Chambers, Dramaautorin:
Yakira Chambers is a Los Angeles-based writer / producer / actress from Englewood, Chicago. She has an MBA and a background in Corporate America. She received a scholarship to the British Academy of Dramatic Arts at Oxford University. Chambers’ writing has been published at the Austin Film Festival, Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and Sundance Episodic Lab and Humanities New Voices. Chambers is a 2021 NY Stage and Film Filmmakers Workshop Fellow in which Lin Manuel Miranda in particular developed Hamilton.
Rishi Chitkara, Comedy-Autor::
Rishi Chitkara earned his BA in Economics / Business in the Northwest and his MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA. He began his career with the DGA Assistant Director Training Program, where he ran production base camps for hit series, including The mentalist, new girl, pretty little liars and Hello ladies. Most recently he developed an original television project with USA Network and is an active member of the WGA. He also produced two direct-to-DVD genre features and is eligible for membership in the PGA. In 2020, Chitkara graduated from the NBC Writers on the Verge Television Fellowship and previously served as a semi-finalist on fellowships at Warner Brothers and Disney / ABC. Originally from New Jersey, he sees himself as a native Angeleno after being on the West Coast for over a decade.
Bradley Estrin-Barks, Drama Author:
Bradley Estrin-Barks is a Filipino-American mestizo television writer from San Francisco. He was born into a mixed race and religion family and grew up in the Bay Area. After earning his BA from San Francisco State University, relocating to Los Angeles led him to work as an actor and become an American Idol Top 30 finalist. He has been a martial arts instructor, LGBTQIA + public health expert for nonprofits, and a freelance lifestyle article writer. He worked as an author PA at Sony / Amazon The youngand was recently hired to write a storytelling series for West Coast University. Estrin-Barks writes a character-based genre with a passion for stories told through weird, feminine, and unconventional family-oriented lenses.
Natasha M. Hall, Dramaautorin:
Natasha M. Hall is a bicultural drama writer with a passion for otherworldly stories and love stories. A first-generation American, her family immigrated from Barbados to Brooklyn, New York, where they grew up in Do or Die Bed-Stuy. After graduating from Syracuse University, she taught English at a middle school in the South Bronx through Teach for America, while completing her Masters at Teachers College in Columbia. She then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in television writing. Hall is a second rounder of Sundance Episodic Lab 2020 and the winner of WeScreenplay’s Diverse Voices. Hall is also a 2020 Women In Film and JHRTS mentee. It will again be looked after by Industry Entertainment and UTA.
Manuel Herrera, Comedy-Author::
Manuel Herrera is a writer from Mission Viejo, California. In his teens, Herrera cut his teeth as a playwright after being introduced to the work of Arthur Miller and Neil Simon before turning to film and television. He received a BFA in Film Production from Chapman University and began his entertainment career as a receptionist at CAA before eventually becoming an assistant at TV Lit. He then moved to Showtime Networks, where he is currently working in original programming. Herrera primarily writes comedy and was once considered amusing enough to be featured in The New Yorker.
Nina Kim, comedy writer:
Nina Kim was born in Atlanta and raised in Nashville by Korean immigrants. She is a comedy writer and recently graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in film, television and media. She started out as a writer production assistant at The CW’s Nancy Drew and Shondalands Sunshine Scouts. She was most recently recognized as a semi-finalist and second-rounder at the Austin Film Festival 2020 and selected as a finalist for the Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop 2020. Kim is currently the Showrunner’s Assistant at Netflix Dead to me.
Janene Lin, Comedy-Author:
Janene Lin grew up in San Francisco surrounded by her large family of Chinese immigrants. She graduated from UC Davis with degrees in international relations and French and studied at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Lyon, France. She worked in branding for 13 years while improvising and performing at comedy festivals around the world before realizing she wanted to be a screenwriter. She has given a TEDx talk on spontaneous creativity, written and produced a comedy web series in the UK, and has participated in a variety of screenwriting competitions including the Austin Film Festival.
Obiageli (Obi) Odimegwu, Dramaautor:
Obi Odimegwu grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. She previously worked as a stock trader on Wall Street before breaking her parents’ hearts by moving on to screenwriting. In 2019 she received her MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Since then, Odimegwu’s mystery and science fiction scripts have earned her a Humanitas New Voices Award, a BAFTA Newcomers Fellowship, and a ScreenCraft Fellowship. Odimegwu currently works at Spotify, writing podcasts about real crime. She is represented by MetaMorphic Entertainment.
Melissa Park, Drama Author:
Melissa Park is a first generation Korean American who grew up in Irvine, California. She graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in writing, literature and publishing. Most recently, she was a semi-finalist for NBC Writers on the Verge in 2018 and a finalist for the WB Writers Workshop in 2019. She is currently a program assistant at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Andrew Saito, Dramaautor:
Andrew Saito, who grew up in Los Angeles, received his BA in Ethnology from UC Berkeley and his MFA from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. He has lived in Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Cuba, and Papua New Guinea as a Fulbright Fellow. For three years he was a full-time dramatist with Andrew W. Mellon at the Cutting Ball Theater in San Francisco. He has worked extensively with Mayan artists and communities in Guatemala, as well as on prison reform and climate change.
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