|WGAW Announces 2010 Writer Access Project Honorees
Innovative Program Aims to Help Diverse Writers
LOS ANGELES -- The Writers Guild of America, West has announced its 2010 WGAW Writer Access Project (WAP) honorees. The two-year-old program, organized by the Guild’s Diversity Department, identifies diverse writers with television staffing experience and makes samples of their work available to be read by entertainment industry decision makers. A total of 20 television writers, in both the Comedy and Drama categories, have been selected as the 2010 Writer Access Project honorees.
“With the Writer Access Project, the WGAW has initiated a proactive effort to increase access to television jobs for groups of writers who have been historically underemployed – plus the program provides a resource for showrunners who want to increase diversity on their writing staffs.” said WGAW Director of Diversity Kimberly Myers.
Program outreach will include a mailing of DVDs featuring this year’s WAP honorees’ written work – an original pilot and spec episode writing sample from each selected writer – along with bios and other information to TV showrunners, industry executives, agents, and managers. This information can also be found on the WGAW website at: http://www.wga.org/wap.
“I've had the opportunity to be a Writer Access Project judge the past two years while at the same time staffing our show. In terms of material that I responded to, the WAP's batting average was higher than many of the agencies,” remarked TV writer and WAP judge Mike Royce (Men of a Certain Age).
The 2010 Writer Access Project honorees are:
2010 WAP Comedy Honorees
Tony Carter, Kathy Fischer, Torian Hughes, Jerry Mahoney, writing partners Jacqueline McKinley & Antonia March, and Doug Molitor.
2010 WAP Drama Honorees
Michael Barlow, Melody Fox, Jason Gavin, Miranda Kwok, Heather Mitchell, Doug Molitor, Jennifer Quintez, Nicole Ranadive, Carla Robinson, Anthony Sparks, Nelson Soler, Donna Thorland, and writing partners Courtney Turk & Kelley Turk.
"Great TV writers come from all walks of life, but finding the best of often-underrepresented voices isn’t always easy or practical given the daily pressures of getting – and keeping – a show on the air. The WGA has made it a little easier, casting a spotlight on some of the most compelling, experienced, and diverse TV writers in the business,” commented 2010 WAP drama honoree Nelson Soler.
In 2009, WAP’s inaugural year, the program produced tangible results: honoree Peter Saji was hired last summer as a staff writer on hit ABC sitcom Cougar Town, and honorees/writing partners Shelley Meals and Darren Goldberg were hired on as staff writers for TV’s HawthoRNe.
Darnell Hunt, professor of sociology at UCLA’s Center for African American Studies, commented in the Guild’s 2009 Hollywood Writers Report that the success of the pilot dispelled the myth that the pool of diverse writers is limited: “To be sure, the success of the program suggests that the underemployment of diverse writers in the industry really has more to do with access, networking, and opportunity than a shortage of talent,” he wrote. The WGAW’s annual report tracks and analyzes employment trends for diverse writers in TV and film in the entertainment industry. According to the 2009 report, the primary challenge facing many diverse writers is the feat of simply getting read – by showrunners and industry executives who may be able to open a door to potential employment.
In the this year’s WAP, qualified WGAW members were invited to submit their work in one of five diversity categories: minority writers; writers with disabilities; women writers; writers age 55 and over; and gay and lesbian writers. The entries were read and scored on a blind submission basis by panels of WGAW members with extensive television writing experience, including current and former showrunners and writer-producers. A total of 93 writers (41 in Comedy / 54 in Drama) submitted scripts to be judged: 35 in the category of minority writers, three in the category of writers with disabilities, 32 in the category of women writers, 12 in the category of 55-and-older writers, and eleven in the category of gay and lesbian writers.
A total of 41 writers were advanced to the final round of judging (15 in Comedy, 26 in Drama), conducted by a judging panel of showrunners and high-level writer-producers. A total of 103 WGA members participated in the WAP judging process. First-round judges included: Al Septien (Smallville), Todd Slavkin (Melrose Place), Elle Triedman (Cold Case), John Altschuler (King of the Hill), and Aaron Shure (The Office); second-round judges included: David Shore (House), Glen Mazzara (HawthoRNe), Mike Royce (Men of a Certain Age), Charles Murray (V), Steven Bochco (Raising the Bar), Sarah Fain (Lie to Me), Sarah Goldfinger (Brothers & Sisters), Adam Horowitz (Lost), Nicole Yorkin (FlashForward), Carter Covington (GrΣΣk), Doug Ellin (Entourage), and Hilary Winston (Community), among other writers.
For further information about the WGAW Writer Access Project’s eligibility and submission criteria, judging process, and 2009-2010 WAP honorees, as well as access to their scripts, please visit: http://www.wga.org/wap.
For press photos of this year’s WAP honorees, click here.
Photo credit: Deverill Weekes
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.