Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Ten scribes have been named winners of the WGA West‘s 2013 Writer Access Project program, which recognizes “diverse television writers” in comedy and drama script categories. The honorees: Michael DiGaetano, Joey Manderino Joseph Neustein and Lena Waithe for comedy; and Sherry Carnes, Dawn Comer Jefferson, Margaux Froley, Geetika Lizardi, Leslie Valdes and Thomas Wong for drama. (See their background info here.)
The program, run by the WGA West Diversity Department, identifies writers with TV staffing experience and makes samples of their work available to showrunners, producers, network and studio executives, and agents and managers, to provide increased access. Qualified guild 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 scripts were read and scored on a blind submission basis by WGAW members serving as judges, including showrunners and producers.
Some of the TV producers who served as judges were on hand during a news conference today announcing the winners as well as the unveiling of the guild’s annual TV staff diversity report, including Leo Chu and Eric S. Garcia (Supah Ninjas) and Glen Mazzara, former executive producer/showrunner of The Walking Dead. Mazzara, who has hired writers from the program, said it can help producers “get over the inertia” of continuing to hire from the same pool. Even though TV writing staffs tend to be small,” you can’t offer 10 jobs, but you can make a difference as a showrunner.”
Added Mazzara: “There is more than enough work to go around and there are more than enough talented writers out there. It can’t just be a boys club anymore.”