Seven women and minority writers have been selected to take part in the inaugural New York Screenwriters Workshop – a six-month intensive program that focuses on professional development for diverse, emerging screenwriters in the greater New York City area.
“Even during this pandemic, screenplays are still being written and projects are being developed,” said WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson. “The guild is thrilled to partner with FilmNation on a project that will open doors to under-represented screenwriters. The strides we make in creating opportunities for people to build careers despite historic exclusion helps build an industry that is both fair and sustainable. This program is an important part of the WGAE’s efforts to make the film and television industry more inclusive and equitable.”
The seven writers selected for the program are Beanie Barnes, Kiara C. Jones, Alessandra Lacorazza, Jiwon Lee, Christopher Radcliff, Tererai (Teri) Rusike, and Rebecca Scott. Read their bios below.
Each will receive a screenwriting mentor and an industry executive mentor while they complete a feature length screenplay during the run of the program, culminating with table reads of their works. Throughout the program, they’ll also be instructed on the business of entertainment by various screenwriters and executives representing various New York City-based film companies.
“It’s been a privilege to get to know these writers during the selection process,” said Liz Siegal and Lucy Licht, members of FilmNation’s Diversity Committee. “We can’t wait to see the incredible work they will produce during the program. A diversity of voices is as urgent as it has ever been and we are thrilled to be able to provide a platform for these screenwriters to tell their stories.”
Malcolm Lee, a screenwriting mentor whose credits include The Best Man and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, said “I am happy to help new, underrepresented writers with unique voices who can bring forth the vast humanity of others. I have spent my entire career trying ‘to mainstream’ stories of the Black American experience and the WGAE’s mentoring program is completely in lockstep with my goals. I am honored to be part of it.”
The Workshop accepted 100 applications to the program, which were submitted via a lottery open to early career writers referred by partner organizations like the Austin Film Festival; the Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema at CUNY Brooklyn (alumni); the Black List; the Blackhouse Foundation; the Dramatists Guild; the Emma Bowen Foundation; the National Association of Latino Independent Producers; the Screenwriters Colony; the National Black Theatre; the New York Women in Film & Television Writers Lab; ReelWorks; the Urbanworld Film Festival, and the WGAE Indie Caucus.
Here are bios for the seven fellows in the New York Screenwriters Workshop:
Beanie Barnes is a Nicholl Fellowship Finalist, a BlueCat Screenplay Competition Winner, and a Film Independent “Project Involve” Writer-Director Fellow. She has also been a Middlebury Script Lab Fellow, a Screenwriters Colony Fellow, and a Fulbright Fellowship Semi-finalist. She was recently named the Diverse Voices Fellow for the 2020 Stowe Story Narrative Lab.
Beanie began her career as a Casting Associate on movies like “Barbershop” and “Spy Kids 2.” She went on to become an Associate Producer on “Lords of Dogtown” and to theatrically distribute the independent film, “Four,” through her company, 306 Releasing, in partnership with AMC Theatres.
The former business strategist is an L.A. transplant living with her partner in N.Y.C. where she is the Screenwriting Teaching Artist for the kids at the Ghetto Film School, a published opinion writer on matters of film, race and culture, and a Feature Programmer for the Bushwick Film Festival.
In her spare time, Beanie does historical micro and macro research to unearth omitted facts and context about people and events that have shaped black history. As a Wikipedia editor with extended rights, she then updates the site with her findings. Since 2011, she has been responsible for over 200 major edits including “The Wilmington Insurrection of 1898,” “The 1908 Springfield Race Riot,” and the “Lynching of Roosevelt Townes and Robert McDaniels.” Beanie has also traveled extensively around and outside of the U.S., most recently spending two months in Russia.
A former Junior Olympian, Beanie earned her B.A. from the University of Nebraska, where she was on the varsity track team, and the ﬁrst woman to play with the men’s varsity football team. She earned her M.B.A. from Yale University.
Kiara C. Jones
Always a lover of story, Kiara C Jones started on her path to filmmaking as a writer. She spent her adolescence in Jacksonville, Florida creating impressive short stories and poetry. Kiara explored Hip-Hop lyricism, then traded her mic for a lavaliere working as a broadcaster for the US Air Force. Kiara wrote the short film, Barbasol (Director Ralph Scott), which won the Audience Award at Urbanworld 2012.
The Directors Guild of America honored Kiara with the Grand Jury Award for writing and directing her debut feature, Christmas Wedding Baby 2015, (Urbanworld, VIACOM, BET, Netflix) She collaborated with Oscar winning Writer, Geoffrey Fletcher as the US winner for the Bombay Sapphire Imagination Series (TriBeCa). Her screenplay, BROKER was selected for NYU Graduate Film’s coveted “Purple List” of best screenplays 2016. Kiara is 2019 BRIO Award Winner for her Sci -Fi Drama pilot, Proxima which is currently being considered by HBO through the IFP/Blackhouse Lab.
Alessandra Lacorazza is a queer Colombian-American writer-director and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work deals with personal and cultural memory, and incorporates themes of migration, alienation, community, and resilience. She focuses on the dissonance and duality created by competing identities.
Alessandra’s short film “Mami” had its world premiere at Palm Springs ShortFest 2019, and was an official selection at NALIP, New York Latino Film Festival, Durban Film Festival and Nitehawk Shorts. “Mami” premiered online on NoBudge as part of Caryn Coleman’s (Future of Film is Female) guest curator week. As an editor, Alessandra’s work has focused on the queer and Latinx communities and has been shortlisted for the Oscars (“After Maria”) and featured in Tribeca, IFP Labs, Netflix, National Geographic, and Refinery29.
Alessandra is a worker-owner of the Meerkat Media Coop based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where she directs, produces and edits artful and impactful videos for foundations, news magazines, publishers and non-profits.
Jiwon Lee (J.W. Lee) is a screenwriter with a background in journalism. She has worked in TV and print and in both short and long form; her credits include emmy-winning documentaries and live broadcasts. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and from the Wharton Business School and focused mostly in financial news.
She won a place on the 2019 Channel 4 (UK) Screenwriting program and the 2019 Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman sponsored Writers Lab. She has also been a part of the Royal Court Theatre’s (UK) studio group, and been shortlisted for Bafta Rocliffe (UK) and Sundance Labs. She is currently writing on the Netflix series, “Atomic Bazaar”, developing projects with Euston Films (UK), InterTitle Films (Berlin) and RedRiding Productions (UK).She is represented by Ikenna Obiekwe and Alex Rusher at Independent Talent(UK) and has recently returned to New York after living in London for over 20 years.
Christopher Radcliff is a Chinese-American filmmaker whose work has screened worldwide at festivals including Sundance, SXSW, IFFRotterdam, and Clermont-Ferrand. His first feature film The Strange Ones (co-directed with Lauren Wolkstein) premiered at SXSW in 2017, where it won the Special Jury Prize. It was released theatrically in the US and internationally in 2018, and was named by John Waters as one of the top ten films of the year in Artforum Magazine.
He is a recipient of the Fortissimo Films/Wouter Barendrecht Award at Cinemart at IFFRotterdam, a Rooftop Films Filmmakers Fund Grant, and has participated in the Berlinale Talents Script Station, IFP’s Emerging Storytellers Program and Project Forum, and residencies at The Wassaic Project (2017 Screenwriting Fellow), and the Swatch Art-Peace Hotel in Shanghai. He received his MFA from Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program, where he was awarded the Ezra Litwak Award for Distinction in Screenwriting.
Tererai (Teri) Rusike
Tererai (Teri) Rusike is a Zimbabwean-American writer and daydreamer who resides in Brooklyn. Born in East Lansing, Michigan to two immigrant PhD students, Tererai was whisked back to Zimbabwe at age 3. As an American- born Zimbabwean, Tererai identifies with a nuanced form of transnational blackness and often explores this multi-faceted identity in her writing. Stuck between two cultures, Tererai enjoys exploring the identity of “other” and often blends drama and comedy to interrogate this complex identity in modern society.
Her short script, SAVIOR placed as a quarter-finalist at Slamdance. Once expanded into a feature, SAVIOR placed as a semi-finalist in the Atlanta Film Festival and made it to the second round of the Austin Film Festival and Sundance Lab. She received her BA in English Literature and Psychology at Rhodes University, South Africa. In 2019, Tererai completed her MFA in Screenwriting at the Brooklyn College Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema and is currently working as a Showrunner’s Assistant.
Becky Scott is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Originally from Fairfield, Connecticut, Becky graduated from Pitzer College in 2012 with a B.A. in English. She received her M.A. in Journalism from Columbia University in 2017. Before pivoting to a career in screenwriting and film, Becky spent a year covering pop-culture for a digital media site in Manhattan.
In 2018, she wrote and co-directed her first feature film ASKING FOR IT, which premiered at the Cinequest Film Festival in March 2020. Becky is primarily interested in writing dark, absurd, and unforgiving comedies about the social reality of our time. She is represented by John Zaozirny of Bellevue Productions and Danny Toth of Gersh.