EXCLUSIVE: WarnerMedia has finalized the participants joining its inaugural Access Writers Program, an initiative to support writers from underrepresented communities in the U.S. (entry-level) and in Canada (mid-level) in partnership with the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
Both seven-month-long programs kicked off in July and are in full swing, offering participants access to deep industry knowledge and invaluable exposure to company executives, creators, and established industry professionals, as well as a workshop on how to turn a script into a viable draft.
“We’re very happy to be able to continue to support underrepresented voices both in the U.S. and Canada through our WarnerMedia Access brand,” said Karen Horne, Senior Vice President, Equity and Inclusion, WarnerMedia. “It gives us the opportunity to work with emerging voices and further the growth of those who are mid-career level.”
One of the writers of 21 selected domestically is Gabriel Vallejo, a Mexican American screenwriter who is using his experience growing up amidst poverty and gangs in Los Angeles to help youths locally at Central Juvenile Hall and adults in California State Prisons by teaching reflective writing.
“Our program just started but even with just being a couple of days in, [The CW’s VP of Programming] Steven Tao spoke to us about the business of TV,” Vallejo shared with Deadline. “I learned so much, specifically that not only the writing should be emphasized because it’s a complex world with many intricacies like learning how to get an agent. I’m already benefiting from this program, just from reading scripts from my fellow participants. I’m blown away by their talent, as well as the diversity among the group. I’m really grateful to be part of this program and to learn from my peers, too.”
Vallejo’s peers include Allyssa Lee, Annie Nishida, Craig T. Williams, Eric Anthony Glover, Eunice Park, Irving Ruan, Kareem Fahmy, Koby Agyeman, Larry Caldwell, Lenny Len & Etan Manasse-Piha, Lisa Sanaye Dring, Malia Dawkins Jennings, Malloy Moseley, Meredith Garcia-Painter, Richard Nguyen & Vinita Mehta, R.B. Ripley, Sam Oh, Stephen Crooms, Victoria González, and Yasmin Almanaseer.
Representing our neighbors in the north is TV writer and producer JP Larocque, whose most recent credits include work on CBC’s Coroner, CTV’s JANN, CBC’s Diggstown, and Netflix’s Another Life. Larocque, a queer, Indo-Guyanese and French-Canadian writer, is looking to catapult their career to the next level.
“What enticed me to this program is that as a queer writer of color, there are very limited opportunities for the types of stories that you can tell in the industry. And what this program effectively has done is removed those limitations,” they revealed. “So instead of having to pare it down to make a few broadcasters happy, we can instead focus on the project we’re most excited about that in an ideal world you’d want to see get made. They will focus on connecting us with the experts who will teach us how to get our stories into the right rooms. That is incredible. As a marginalized person, I think you’re always taught to be creative with limitations, and this program eliminates that and creates opportunities for us to tell important stories.”
Larocque’s cohorts are Andrew Burrows-Trotman, Berend McKenzie, Christine Rodriguez, Corey Payette, Faisal Lutchmedial, Gaurav Seth, Jay Cardinal Villeneuve, Jessica Meya, Mayumi Yoshida, Michael Hanley, Mona Zaidi, Murry Peeters, Nile Seguin, Ryan Cooper, Shakil Jessa, Stéphane Moukarzel, and Vivian Lin.
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