NBCUniversal Talent Infusion Programs has finalized the list for its 2016-17 Writers on the Verge, the annual program for TV writers of diverse backgrounds who are “on the verge” of breaking out but need a final polish of their writing and pitch presentation skills. Winners will receive coaching and mentoring from industry pros during an intensive 12-week program with the ultimate goal of preparing them to be staff writers. At the end, they will be considered for available writing assignments on NBC series.
This year’s winners are comedy writers Mnelik Belilgne, Melanie Boysaw and Jeremy Hsu and drama writers Lorelei Ignas, Allyssa Lee, Rayna McClendon, Mellori Velasquez and Jeane Wong.
This is the 11th year of the program that is among the initiatives of NBCU’s program to promote and encourage people of diverse backgrounds. More than 2,000 applied this year. Recent alumni are staffed on series including The Blacklist (producers Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier), Superstore, American Crime, Suits, Shades of Blue (co-EP Rashad Raisani) and NBC midseason series The Redemption and Midnight, Texas.
Here are bios from NBCU:
The hip hop artist turned comedy writer has worked on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Allegiance and The Michael J. Fox Show. As a musician, he released five albums and won rap battle competitions for BET, Redbull and Grindtime.
The Los Angeles native and University of California, Berkeley alumna is currently a writers’ coordinator at Conan, and also worked on the Conan O’Brien-produced series the Pete Holmes Show.
The Hawaii native got his start as a stand-up comedian performing at comedy clubs in New York. He then ventured into video editing working on reality shows and live events including the Super Bowl, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue writing.
Ignas is a produced off-off- Broadway director and playwright, and alumna of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Previously based in Brooklyn, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Television and completed the UCLA Professional Program for Television Writing in 2013. Lorelei is repped by UTA and Rain Management Group.
Southern California native Lee began her writing career as a journalist, reporting and editing for the likes of Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times and Women’s Health before turning her sights to television itself. She is currently a digital content producer and editor at FOXSports.com.
McClendon got her start at the Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Currently, she is the showrunner’s assistant to Veena Sud on her upcoming Netflix drama, Seven Seconds. McClendon has written two freelance episodes for television: one for The Disney Channel’s new series Andi Mack from Terri Minksy, and her first for MTV’s family drama Finding Carter. Additionally, she co-wrote webisodes for MTV’s Awkward, and was a writers’ room assistant for Awkward and Finding Carter. McClendon is represented by Kaplan Stahler Agency and Good Fear Film + Management.
A law school graduate once on track to becoming an in-house attorney, Velasquez walked away from law to enroll in USC’s MFA Writing for Screen and Television Program. Her legal background has inspired her to write female-centric gritty crime dramas.
San Gabriel, Calif. native Wong left her initial dream of working in politics behind to pursue her passion for writing. She is developing her original pilot The Thin Line at Universal Cable Productions while she works as a script coordinator on The CW’s Arrow. She is also a published author and comic book writer. Her short story “Crystal Brook” was published in Empower: Fight Like a Girl, and she co-authored The Vampire Diaries digital comics for D.C. Comics. She is also part of the inaugural Women In Film Black List TV Lab. She is repped by Abrams Artists Agency the Gotham Group.