WGA West Announces Winners Of Diversity Program's Feature Access Project

Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has announced its Feature Access Project (FAP) honorees, recognizing five members who competed in the Guild’s pilot diversity screenwriting program. They are:

· Chuck Hayward for Potluck
· Dwayne Johnson-Cochran for Bibi
· Vivian Lee for Eve at the Bar
· Zak Shaikh for The Ignoble Rise of Lord Rex
· Paula Yoo for Popular Science

Coordinated by the WGAW Diversity Department, the project seeks to identify outstanding diverse writers and make their scripts available to entertainment industry decision-makers, including producers, studio executives, agents and managers, to help raise their profile and generate potential employment opportunities. More information about the honorees and complete versions of their screenplays can be found at: http://www.wga.org/fap.html. Each honoree will be paired with an established WGAW feature writer who will serve as a career mentor.

For FAP consideration, qualified minority writers were invited to submit a current, feature-length, unproduced spec script. Entries were read and scored on a blind submission basis by a panel of judges comprised of WGAW members recruited by the FAP Advisory Committee.

  1. I’m all for giving people a leg up and clearly these diversity programs are needed to help balance things out in Hollywood… Everyone who has talent and is capable should be given that opportunity. But as a straight white male working his way up I have a hard time not feeling discriminated against… I don’t qualify for any of these diversity programs and despite popular belief, there is no old white guys club that passes out jobs to other white guys— it just doesn’t happen…and if it does, please show me where. In my humble opinion there’s an ever expanding degree of over compensation and sadly its having an adverse discriminatory effect on young up and coming white males. I don’t know what the fix is… As I said, I think the diversity programs are important… But maybe there needs to be a companion program that strictly focuses on talent and not the color of your skin or ethnic background.

    1. “The decision to target minority writers in the first year of this pilot program was based in significant part on the data and analysis contained in the 2011 Hollywood Writers Report Executive Summary. Statistically, minority writers are the most underemployed group of writers in feature films. In 2009, employment of minority writers in the feature films declined for the first time in a decade – from 6% to 5% of all writers employed in this segment.”

      1. Employment of ALL writers in feature films has declined. And what does ‘underemployed’ mean? Underemployed compared to white people, white males? Underemployed despite the quality of writing, good or bad? Underemployed because alot of people want to write for movies but there aren’t alot of writing jobs out there? Pretty much EVERYONE is underemployed right now! The above quote is one of those statements that sounds bad on the face, but doesn’t say much by definition.

    2. I wouldn’t sweat it too much. It’s common knowledge that virtually none of these diversity winners ever go on to have careers in Hollywood and that this is just lip service to fend off critics who correctly assert that Hollywood is a boys club, with jobs meted out strictly to friends and relatives. White people are not discriminated against in Hollywood. You know who’s discriminated against in Hollywood? People who don’t know anyone successful who can open doors for them. Before you can say “Well that’s what contests are for –” you should be informed that Hollywood executives laugh out loud behind closed doors at contest winners, and then sign the friend of the woman who went down on them the night before.

      1. Bitter much?

        “It’s common knowledge that virtually none of these diversity winners ever go on to have careers in Hollywood.”

        I’m a diversity writer with a career who started out doing NBC WOTV.

    3. “I’m all for balancing things out in Hollywood except now let me tell you why white guys like me are the real victims”

      These scripts, presumably, didn’t get picked because they were bad BUT were written by diverse writers. They got picked, presumably, because they were great AND the program is trying to remedy decades of discrimination.

      There is a “companion program that strictly focuses on talent.” It’s called Hollywood. Just use your talent to write a truly great script and no matter your gender, race, or sexual orientation, it will get noticed. It’s just really effing hard for ANYONE to write a truly great script. Quit playing the victim card and go back to your computer and just make it better.

      1. “Quit playing the victim card and go back to your computer and just make it better.”

        The irony of saying this while defending a race-based program is just too much.

      2. “Just use your talent to write a truly great script and no matter your gender, race, or sexual orientation, it will get noticed.”

        Errrr…you do realize this statement is in defense of a diversity program where talented white males with truly great scripts are not up for consideration because of their gender, race and sexual orientation, don’t you?

      3. You are truly a moron. Do you really think success in Hollywood is due to ability and that the industry is a democracy with the most talented gaining the biggest rewards? As one who has had a lot of success with a few miserable years mixed in, let me help you out. Success in Hollywood is 97 percent based on contacts and 3 percent based on talent. Of the five friends from college that I know who came out here to try and make it, one has succeeded and the other four have failed. The dude who succeeded was the least talented, the least motivated, the least driven, but he had a brother in the business who gave him a huge break. The most talented in our group who I feel easily could’ve been the next Judd Apatow with the right breaks, just never met the right people, became depressed and put a snub nosed pistol to his head about ten years ago and blew his brains out. That, my friend, in a nutshell is Hollywood.

    4. Congrats Chuck Hayward, so deserving!

      P.S. – White Guy, if you look at WGA hiring statistics you will realize that you being out of work or not breaking in has nothing to do with women, gays, or people of color. Maybe get off of Deadline and go work on your script already. You can do it, buddy!!!

    5. I agree w/ theOCS post…

      “No offense, but…GET A GRIP!
      It’s not about color, it’s about winning.
      Mazel tov to ALL the winners!
      p.s. dear ‘white guy’ before inserting foot in mouth again…read the requirements.”

  2. No offense, but…GET A GRIP!
    It’s not about color, it’s about winning.
    Mazel tov to ALL the winners!

    p.s. dear ‘white guy’ before inserting foot in mouth again…read the requirements.

  3. Because being over age 40 doesn’t count as diversity to my dear WGA.
    Not a rhetoric question/ironic statement; we checked: it’s doesn’t.
    #somedayMaybe

  4. Disney/ABC, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, Nichols, Sundance Labs and more are all color blind. I have white male friends in those and even white male friends in some of the programs that are actually “diversity” programs every year. Only 6% of feature work went to diverse writers last year. The problem isn’t just breaking in- its that white males are treated vastly different once in the door… just as they are in the entirety of f-ing life. I’m sorry this one thing once is less unfairly skewed to your advantage than it would have been ten years ago.

    1. No white dudes are being denied a job because the WGA has a program to shine the spotlight on talented writers from classes that have historically not had the light shined on them. See the difference? (I know you probably won’t)

    2. To White Guy, Ivy and all those in between… Bitter Much???
      When not picked in life, suck it up and make friends with those who did — Lessons From the playground.

  5. I hear what you’re saying, believe me. But this program is basically announcing “This is your chance to enter to win a lottery to get your work seen (which isn’t a promise of anything at all) because even with hard work, talent and brains, you still don’t have a shot in this industry because it’s all about whom you know and diversity equals knowing no one.” (We won’t even address the biases that rear their heads as soon as a “diverse” person walks in the door.)
    Now you, WG, might not benefit from “the club” but others certainly do. (It isn’t necessarily a question of complexion, but the access complexion sometimes provides. It’s sociological, basically, and most of us have no control over where we come from and whom we know or are related to or brush shoulders with, and so on.) Your feelings of being discriminated against should not be directed at this program, but at the system in general which makes it hard for people without any connections to get a foot in the door. The people who do have connections are part of “the club”; your problem is you are not connected with the right person (yet.) Good luck to you.

  6. It’s rough out there for every writer in the business. Especially writers without a bunch of credits. But every time I open ‘Written By’ and there’s a picture of a working writing staff it seems like 70% of the people pictured are White males. Some believe one reason shows fail is because they don’t reflect the audience. If someone feels like adding different voices (female, Black, Asian, Latino, whatever) to the writers room mix gives their show a better chance to survive more power to them.

    SIDE NOTE: Before agreeing to read an African American writer’s submission a showrunner told my friend’s agent, “I’m all for adding diversity but they have to be good.” In the mind of this showrunner “diverse” and subpar were equivalent. A program like this is an opportunity to change those preconceived notions. And like all affirmative-action type programs it’s not about getting a bad writer a job. It’s about getting an opportunity for a writer who otherwise wouldn’t be considered.

    PS – The ‘old white guys’ clubs are Harvard and U$C.

  7. Despite the fact that Hollywood is filled with hyper-educated liberals, this is an incredibly risk averse town. Going with safe, standard, and average is the modus operandi here. And yes, this is a town where being a white and male between the ages of 35-50 is what people are used to seeing, therefore considered safe. Average. Less risky. The ‘norm.’

    Anyone slightly older or younger, ethnic, or (gasp) female, is considered outside of the norm, therefore risky, and the path is going to be a bit steeper for them. That’s just how it is. I don’t call it racism, I call it cowardice. Pure and simple.

    But the reality is, $$ speaks louder than anything. If you’re a proven profit machine, no one cares what sex or race you are.

  8. I decided not to read the comments before I posted, so I’m curious as to the state of the White Male Pity Party in the comments section right now.

  9. For all, white, black, brown, yellow or red, trying to make it in this godforsaken industry just remember that it is not what you know, but… WRONG! Is not who you know. It is who knows you! So, as you study plot and character development, also learn how to build your network. As you spent countless nights staring at a blank computer screen, also spend several nights out there, in that festival, that seminar, that conference, that friend’s screening and if you do it and have the drive and talent, soon enough you will be the one opening the door for the next guy (that most likely believes he doesn’t have a chance because he knows no one inside the industry). And consider that a person needs to meet someone more than three times before he is remembered. Good luck, your break may be just around the corner.

  10. Congrats to Paula Yoo, a renaissance woman extraordinaire — a fantastic TV writer, a standout concert-level violinist, a successful author of kids’ books, an accomplished journalist and an all around terrific person. She personifies cool and nice.

    With a smidgen of luck, Paula will be a showrunner one day because she has prodigious talent… mark my words. (And a heady and heartfelt congrats to the other winners of the WGA diversity contest!)

    Go, Paula, go!!!!!

    As a side note, reading so many gripes about necessary and long overdue diversity programs for Hollywood makes me roll my eyes. The Sturn und Drang on display is as ridiculous as members of the U.S. Senate complaining about efforts to diversify Congress. I look forward to the day when the in-house audience of the Golden Globes and Oscar ceremonies reflect the diversity of the smart, paying public that pays to watch Hollywood shows.

  11. I once received a WGA internship on a major drama based on a pilot I had written. I was told by the producer that there wouldn’t be an opportunity to write for the show, but they needed a researcher. When that ended, I went to Hollywood Pictures where I was told by an up and coming executive that Hollywood doesn’t really care about diversity.

  12. Congrats CHUCK HAYWARD!!! This guy is awesome. Can’t wait to see what he has in store for the industry.

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