The Global Talent Development & Inclusion (GTDI) team at NBCUniversal has officially opened the gates for applications for the annual Universal Writers Program. Submissions will be accepted starting today through February 21.
The program identifies experienced and up-and-coming screenwriters with unique points of view that build upon NBCUniversal’s commitment to telling diverse and inclusive stories that reflect its audiences. Writers selected for the one-year, paid program will be given the opportunity to develop two feature scripts under the guidance of Universal Pictures, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation production executives, as well as the studio’s first-look producers.
The GTDI team, which recently added television and streaming to its program, has cultivated the Universal Writers Program since the program’s redesign in 2017. Over the last few years, the submissions received for each cycle have increased consistently in number and in global reach. Last year, GTDI garnered its biggest application pool since the program’s inception with more than 1,500 applications. The only feature film program sanctioned by the Writers Guild of America West, the Universal Writers Program inclusively develops storytellers with the intent to incorporate multicultural and global perspectives in screenwriting.
“Bringing eclectic stories from unique perspectives to audiences around the globe has been the cornerstone of Universal’s creative mission,” said Peter Cramer, President, Universal Pictures. “The Universal Writers Program brings together talented individuals who seek that same aim, and I can’t wait to welcome a new group of writers and work closely with them and the GTDI team on furthering these efforts.”
Key producer advisors for the current class of writers include Wondaland Pictures’ Janelle Monáe and Mikael Moore, Metronome Film Company’s Colin Trevorrow, Rideback’s Dan Lin and Indivisible Productions’ Chris Pratt and Jon Schumacher. Kasi Lemmons, Will Packer and Amy Pascal joined the 2020 cycle as Program Ambassadors, a new component to the program. Ambassadors engage closely with the writers for the one-year period, helping increase overall industry exposure for the group through Masterclasses, workshops, curated film discussions and industry connection conversations. Additionally, Ambassadors externally champion and amplify the program as well as the Studio’s overall commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Alumni of the Universal Writers Program include Juel Taylor, co-writer of Creed II, who made his episodic directorial debut on BET’s Boomerang, and is currently developing a project with Universal and LeBron James’ The SpringHill Company. Additional alumni include Sarah Cho, a staff writer on the upcoming Hulu and Universal Content Productions series The Girl from Plainville and Leon Hendrix, co-writer and executive producer of Cointelpro, a drama series in development at Peacock.
The application can be found here. The program will kick off later this year.