Diversity in Action
Ten 2013 WAP honorees reflect outstanding talent in drama and comedy.  

(April 5, 2013) 

Photo: Michael Jones
2013 WAP Honorees, Standing (L-R): Thomas Wong, Michael DiGaetano, Dawn Comer Jefferson, Joey Manderino, Joseph Neustein, Leslie Valdes. Seated (L-R): Sherry Carnes, Geetika Lizardi, Lena Waithe, Margaux Froley  

It’s no surprise that diversity, or the lack of it, remains a serious problem in television writing. To help improve the situation for minority TV writers and to increase their employment opportunities, the WGAW’s Writers Access Project (WAP) identifies experienced diverse writers of outstanding talent and provides a resource for industry decision-makers to access their work and, hopefully, hire them.

This year’s WAP honorees in comedy are Michael DiGaetana, Joey Manderino, Joseph Neustein and Lena Waithe. Honorees in drama are Sherry Carnes, Dawn Comer Jefferson, Margaux Froley, Geetika Lizardi, Leslie Valdes and Thomas Wong.

The Guild’s WAP Program aims to provide talented writers with the one opportunity that is regarded as key to success: access. “Programs like this one are important because they ensure that all the hard-working and talented voices out there are recognized and given a fair and equal opportunity for employment,” says WAP judge Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. “No doubt about it, this is a win-win situation and an impactful program.”

Each year, qualified WGAW members in five diverse categories (minority, women, writers with disabilities, over 55 writers and LGBT writers) submit samples of their writing in drama or comedy to the WAP program. Entries are read and judged on a blind submission basis by Guild members with extensive showrunning and writer-producer experience. Those entrants who receive the highest scores are named WAP honorees, and their original pilots or spec episodes are showcased on the Guild website.

The program, under the auspices of the WGAW’s Diversity Department, also reaches out to television showrunners, network and studio executives, pilot creators, agents and managers to promote the honorees and their work. A reading of selections from the honorees’ original pilots will be held on April 30; industry representatives and Guild members are invited. For more information contact the Diversity Department.

To read the bios and scripts of this year’s WAP honorees, click here 


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