Today, Bisha K. Ali, Netflix and Sky unveil the cohort of six outstanding screenwriters chosen to be part of their first screenwriting talent programme.
The one-year fellowship, which is now halfway through, is led by screenwriter Bisha K. Ali, a member of the writing team for the first series of Sex Education, head writer for Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel and consulting producer for Sky. Original The Baby. The scholarship aims to give the UK’s brightest new voices the opportunity to join a Netflix or Sky writers room and receive their first TV credit.
Bisha K. Ali said, “I am so proud to see the creative growth of the talented and driven writers selected for our Screenwriters Fellowship. The world of screenwriting has historically been difficult to break into, made even more difficult by the systemic issues within our industry. Our Fellowship does not claim to have all the answers, but we aspire to be part of the movement towards a more inclusive industry. I know our spectacular inaugural fellows have long creative careers ahead of them and will continue to be essential storytellers across multiple genres and mediums. Remember their names – I’m sure you’ll see them in the credits of your favorite new shows!”
ANe Mensah, Vice President of Netflix Original Series said: “At Netflix, we want to create shows that reflect the world we live in and develop a more inclusive creative pipeline across the UK. True diversity is knowing which voices are heard and which stories and perspectives are told. Netflix is proud to play a role in nurturing these up-and-coming writers and designing a program that not only attempts to remove some of the barriers to entry into our industry, but also provides the space, time, and financial security needed to help writers develop their craft. .”
Cécile Frot-Coutaz, Sky Studios CEO said: “The stories we tell shape our collective understanding of the world, so it’s essential to open up the closed sphere of screenwriting to as many voices as possible, allowing us to tell untold stories to a global audience. . Inspired by Bisha’s vision, we’re proud to help break down barriers and support these six new writers at this early stage in their careers.
Applicants had to be dedicated writers with an authentic and original voice and submit a full screenplay to be considered for the Screenwriters Fellowship, which received nearly 2,000 applications. Winners include Asad Ullah, screenwriter and queer theater performer from Manchester, Daniel T. David, award-winning copywriter, Kayla Hendy, 23-year-old writer from Slough, Kim Taylor, former teacher and freelance writer for stage and screen , Lewis Wren, a 29-year-old playwright and screenwriter based in the North West of England, and Robyn Ahern, a writer who has also worked in film development and academia. Fellows were assigned industry mentors and participated in workshops and fireside chats with industry luminaries such as Charlie Brooker, Charlie Covell, Kate Herron, Chandni Lakhani and Laurie Nunn.
The Screenwriters Fellowship is part of Netflix and Sky’s wider commitment to improving representation and spreading opportunities across the UK.
Through Grow Creative UK, Netflix has invested £1.2 million to help develop and support the careers and training of 1,000 people over the past year. This follows Netflix $5 Million Creative Equity Fund create opportunities for underrepresented groups to break into the industry, and the UK Documentary Talent Fund to support emerging filmmakers. This year, Netflix will invest an additional £1.2 million to continue to grow the talent pool and support them in their career progression, offering them paid internships and work opportunities on our shows.
Earlier this year, Sky Studios teamed up with Birmingham Repertory Theater to Sky Comedy representative – an initiative to provide 6-month paid scholarships to emerging talent from under-represented comedy writers across the UK, and since 2015 has run monthly Sky Table readings to showcase and champion underrepresented writers in British industry. Sky has also committed £30million to tackling racial injustice in society, including using the power of content to bring about positive change.
Below is the complete list of scholarship recipients: (in alphabetical order)
Asad Ullah is a queer screenwriter and actor from Manchester. He is part of the Fat Blokes Company, an award-winning queer dance company. Her work focuses on grappling with the drama, romance and comedy that live at the intersections of her life: queer, Muslim, British, brown and fat.
Daniel T. David is an award-winning copywriter with a law degree. He is interested in tackling the climate crisis through storytelling and breaking down the barriers of science fiction and fantasy.
Kayla Hendy is a 23-year-old writer from Slough. The first screenplay she wrote as a teenager was featured in the BBC Drama Writersroom. After graduating, she began freelancing as a proofreader and script editor, while also working as an assistant director in London. Kayla’s stories often explore gender and inequality, and her favorite tales follow women with twisted morals.
Kim Taylor is a freelance writer for stage and screen. Her scripts reflect a clear interest in social issues, women’s rights and mental health. Kim TV Pilot’s crime drama ‘The Watcher’ was a finalist in the 2021 BBC Studios ScriptWorks and Thousand Films screenplay competition. Kim holds both Barbadian and British nationality.
Lewis Wren is a 29-year-old comedy playwright and screenwriter from the North West of England but based in Bristol. His plays have been shortlisted and shortlisted for awards including the Bruntwood Prize and the Lancaster Playwriting Prize, and his screenplay has been shortlisted for the BBC’s Writers’ Room.
Robyn Ahern is a London-based writer currently working on film and television projects. She has already written for the theatre; his first project, Monster, was developed as part of Camden People’s Theater Starting Blocks residency and shared at Battersea Arts Centre. Her writing is deeply character driven and often builds a sense of unease, experimenting with genre to explore themes such as alienation, togetherness, power and belief on an intimate scale.