This season has been particularly welcoming to new writing talent, with a number of buys from first-time creators. Some of the openness on the part of the networks has to do with the shortage of experienced writers who are all tied to series. But let’s not forget that some of the biggest TV hits came from first-time TV creators, including the CSI franchise (Anthony Zuiker) and The Blacklist (Jon Bokenkamp).
The latest up-and-coming writer to score a first network sale is Ingrid Escajeda, supervising producer on FX drama Justified. For her own drama project, which has been set up at CBS, Escajeda is staying in the South. In a suburban Texas county already on the verge of chaos, the cold-blooded assassination of the district attorney means the ascension of Gaby Ortiz, a formidable young prosecutor. Under assault by the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, narco cartels and rampant corruption, Gaby must resurrect the county’s crumbling law enforcement effort, with little more than her defiant will and the support of her extraordinary extended family. Escajeda will write the script and executive produce with Jonathan Levin.
While completing her degree in biology, Escajeda took a few acting and comedy classes that hooked her on entertainment and led to an MFA in film production from USC. Escajeda, who was into comedy at the time, wrote specs scripts of Scrubs and Curb Your Enthusiasm that helped her get signed by a manager and an agency. With reps on board, she landed her first job on Hannah Montana.
Escajeda moved to network comedy with a gig on Better Off Ted. Working on half-hour shows, she realized that she was not the quick joke-maker like everybody else in the room and might be better suited for drama. She ended up writing a pilot script about the LAPD bomb squad that fell in the hands of Justified executive producer Graham Yost and led to her joining the FX series. Escajeda, repped by UTA and Echo Lake, has been on the FX series for four seasons, rising to supervising producer.