250 Alums Laud Contributions of Cosby Writing Program 

(October 5, 2012) 

(L-R) Peter Saji, Dwayne Johnson-Cochrane, Michael Ajakwe Jr., Doreen Hamilton Hudson, Mike Costa, Anthony Sparks, Ph.D., Rusty Cundieff, David Wyatt  

For 18 years the Guy Hanks & Marvin Miller Screenwriting Program – commonly referred to as the Cosby Writing Program in honor of its creators and funders Drs. Bill and Camille Cosby – trained talented African-American television and film writers, many of whom have gone on to have impressive careers. Last month, the WGAW’s Committee of Black Writers lauded the prestigious program, which ends this year, by hosting a farewell event that brought together 250 alums, instructors and industry professionals. Many members of the Guild’s Committee are Cosby Program alums.

Trailblazer Award recipients (L-R) Janine Sherman Barrois, Mara Brock Akil and Gina Prince-Bythewood  

Guild members Janine Sherman Barrois, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Mara Brock Akil were recipients of the Trailblazer Award for their writing achievements. Cosby alum Michael Ajakwe, Dr. Anthony Sparks, and Peter Saji and Cosby Program screenwriting instructor Dwayne Johnson Cochran spoke about the significance of the program for black writers. The evening was hosted by Doreene Hamilton Hudson, Executive Director of the Cosby Program, and CBW members Lena Waithe, Benjamin Corey Jones and CBW Chair David Wyatt, also a longtime Cosby Program television writing instructor.

The Cosby Writing Program left an indelible mark on participants and instructors:

"The Cosby Program was instrumental in pushing me to work hard, stay focused and persevere. It taught me that the only thing that guarantees you a seat at the table is talent. And the only way to develop that talent is to write... and write some more."
- Janine Sherman Barrois, Cosby Fellow, Executive Producer, Criminal Minds 

"You can literally draw a straight line from the Cosby Fellowship to where I am today.”
- Peter Saji, Cosby Fellow, Co-Producer, Cougartown 

“I taught the television fellows since 2005 and it was gratifying seeing a great deal of them continue on and get their first writing jobs and join the WGA. The Cosby Program is going to be missed, but hopefully the industry will continue to find the type of talent that the program has over the years.”
- David Wyatt, Chair, WGAW Committee of Black Writers, Comedy Writer, Writing Instructor Cosby Fellowship/Television  

“I taught in the Cosby Program for 11 years because I fully understood the substantial importance this program has on the lives of so many writers. Because of the Cosby Program the industry has changed, not just for people of color but for the entire industry.”
- Dwayne Johnson-Cochran, Writer-Director, WGAW Member, Writing Instructor Cosby Fellowship/Film