Kevin Hart’s multi-platform media company Hartbeat today announced the return of its screenwriting fellowship and talent development initiative Women Write Now, created to champion the next generation of Black women in comedy through mentorship, advocacy, production and exhibition. The fellowship developed in partnership with the Sundance Institute will support three writers in developing short comedic scripts under the guidance of some of the most influential Black women in comedy.
With the support of Hartbeat executives and veteran industry mentors, this year’s fellowship recipients will earn the opportunity to bring their projects to life at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, where they will premiere at a private screening. Following their premiere, the films will be distributed across HartBeat’s LOL Network. Following the fellowship, the selected writers will also receive a year-long first-look deal with Hartbeat to submit original projects for production consideration with Hartbeat, and distribution across its LOL Network. The writers will also have the opportunity to separately pitch one project to Hartbeat for a development deal.
Yamara Taylor (ABC’s Black-ish) returns to the program this year as lead screenwriting mentor, and will be joined in guiding fellows by Radha Blank (The 40-Year-Old Version) and Kay Oyegun (This Is Us). Hartbeat execs Thai Randolph and Candice Wilson Cherry will also serve as lead Creative Advisors for the program to provide mentorship and career development guidance alongside producer Stephanie Allain (Dear White People), director Marta Cunningham (Insecure), ICM agent Ava Greenfield, producer Codie Oliver (Black Love), and former HBO executive and author of The Executive Chair: A Writer’s Guide to TV Development, Kelly Edwards. Additional creative advisors and guest directors will be announced at a later date.
Submissions for the 2022 Women Write Now fellowship are open now through June 6. Applicants will be evaluated on the strength of the submitted material, which will include a statement of interest and an original short comedic screenplay. Approximately 10 finalists will be interviewed by Hartbeat staff, with final decisions made by a panel of award-winning filmmakers, industry leaders, Hartbeat executives, and partners from the Sundance Institute. All applicants will receive notification of their application status via e-mail on or around July 18th.
“Last year’s debut of Women Write Now proved there is an entire ecosystem of artists, allies, executives, and mentors ready and willing to uplift and usher in the next generation of talented Black women in comedy,” said Hartbeat’s CEO, Randolph. “We’re excited to build off the tremendous momentum we created in partnership with Sundance Institute and introduce new opportunities through Hartbeat as we continue our mission to cultivate and empower emerging voices.”
“We’re very excited to continue Women Write Now, in partnership with HartBeat for a second year,” added said Michelle Satter, Sundance Institute’s Founding Senior Director, Artist Programs. “This program allows emerging talent to connect meaningfully with industry mentors, and creates the foundation for sustainable, long-term projects and career development. Additionally, the discovery and support of Black women comedy writers is a great opportunity to expand Sundance’s focus on talented storytellers working in the comedy arena.”
Launched in July of last year, the inaugural Women Write Now fellowship saw Wilandrea Blair, Danielle Nicolet and Moni Oyedepo selected from a pool of over 670 submissions from aspiring comedy writers across the U.S. Together each fellow recipient was given the opportunity to develop their submitted scripts, with the help of Hartbeat and guest directors, Gabrielle Dennis (A Black Lady Sketch Show), Meagan Good (Harlem) and Bresha Webb (Run the World). Each completed project was made available for streaming audiences exclusively on NBCUniversal’s Peacock. More information on the Women Write Now fellowship can be found here.
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