Ten women and two white males over 60 are this year’s honorees for the WGA’s Feature Writers Access Project, the guild’s diversity screenwriting program for women, minorities and writers over 60.
The women being honored are Jill Isaacs, for her screenplay Angel’s Flight; Syrie James for Romancing Jane; Bo Yeon Kim for The Last Rocket Home; Elizabeth Oyebode for Sexton; Cynthia Riddle for Curtains; Kat Smith for The Line; Carley Steiner & Chelsea Steiner for Pole Position; Natalija Vekic for Jane; and Sheryl Zohn for You Must Be Kidding.
The senior writers being honored this year are Garner Simmons for A Cool State Of Blood and J.B White for Misbegotten.
This year’s program generated over 300 feature-length script submissions.
“This program’s goal is to introduce talented diverse voices to the film industry,” said Ligiah Villalobos, a member of the Access Project’s advisory committee. “We are in an era where the population of this nation is shifting rapidly, yet the hiring practices of feature film writers in Hollywood remains static, with most jobs still going to white male writers. But like Viola Davis said in her Emmy speech, ‘The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.’ We believe that this is also true of diverse writers. Hopefully programs like this one will help change that. We at the guild are doing our part. We encourage the studios and production companies to do theirs by considering and getting to know the current and previous writers in the program.”
As part of the program, the WGA will host seminars and workshops tailored for the honorees covering such topics as how to obtain and tackle studio writing assignments, rewrites, the pitch process, agent and manager relationships, independent production, acquiring rights, packaging, the challenges faced by diverse writers and how best to market yourself in the industry. There will also be a meet-and-greet honorees mixer with development executives.