Seven women and minority writers have been selected to participate in the inaugural New York Screenwriters Workshop – an intensive six-month program focused on the professional development of diverse emerging screenwriters from the greater New York area.
The Workshop is a partnership between WGA East and FilmNation Entertainment, a New York-based independent film and television producer, financier and distributor.
“Even during this pandemic, scripts 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 for underrepresented screenwriters. The progress we are making in creating opportunities for people to build careers despite historical exclusion is helping to 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 biography below.
Each will receive a screenwriting mentor and industry executive mentor as they complete a feature film script over the duration of the program, culminating in tabletop readings of their works. Throughout the program, they will also receive instruction on the entertainment business from various screenwriters and executives representing various New York-based film companies.
“It was a privilege to get to know these writers during the selection process,” said FilmNation Diversity Committee members Liz Siegal and Lucy Licht. “We can’t wait to see the incredible work they will produce during the program. A diversity of voices is more urgent than ever, and we’re excited 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 underrepresented new writers with unique voices that can bring out the vast humanity of others. I’ve spent my entire career trying to “generalize” stories of the Black American experience, and the WGAE mentorship program is completely in line with my goals. I am honored to be part of it. »
The workshop accepted 100 applications for 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 blacklist; the Blackhouse Foundation; the Guild of Dramatists; the Emma Bowen Foundation; the National Association of Independent Latino Producers; the colony of screenwriters; the National Black Theatre; the New York Women in Film & Television Writers Lab; RealWorks; the Urbanworld Film Festival and the WGAE Indie Caucus.
Here are the biographies of the seven New York Screenwriters Workshop Fellows:
Beanie Barnes is a Nicholl Fellowship finalist, winner of the BlueCat screenplay competition and independent writer-director “Project Involve”. She was also a Middlebury Script Lab Fellow, a Screenwriters Colony Fellow, and a Fulbright Fellowship semi-finalist. She was recently named a Diverse Voices Fellow for the 2020 Stowe Story Narrative Lab.
Beanie started her career as a casting associate on movies like “Barbershop” and “Spy Kids 2.” She then became associate producer of “Lords of Dogtown” and theatrically distributed the independent film “Four”, through her company, 306 Releasing, in partnership with AMC Theaters.
The former business strategist is a Los Angeles transplant living with her partner in New York where she is the artist teaching screenwriting to children at the Ghetto Film School, a published opinion writer on film issues , race and culture, and a feature film programmer for the Bushwick Film Festival.
In his spare time, Beanie conducts historical micro and macro research to uncover omitted facts and context about the people and events that 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 editions, including “The Wilmington Insurrection of 1898”, “The 1908 Springfield Race Riot”, and “Lynching of Roosevelt Townes and Robert McDaniels”. Beanie has also traveled extensively in and outside the United States, most recently spending two months in Russia.
A former Junior Olympian, Beanie earned her BA from the University of Nebraska, where she was on the varsity track team, and the first woman to play on the men’s varsity football team. She earned her MBA from Yale University.
Kiara C. Jones
Always in love with history, Kiara C Jones began her path to film as a writer. She spent her teenage years in Jacksonville, Florida, creating awe-inspiring short stories and poems. Kiara explored hip-hop lyricism, then traded her microphone for a lavalière working as an animator for the US Air Force. Kiara wrote the short, Barbasol (director Ralph Scott), which won the Audience Award at Urbanworld 2012.
The Directors Guild of America presented Kiara with the Grand Jury Award for writing and directing her first feature, Christmas Wedding Baby 2015, (Urbanworld, VIACOM, BET, Netflix). She collaborated with Oscar-winning writer Geoffrey Fletcher as the American winner for the Bombay. Sapphire Imagination Series (TriBeCa). His screenplay, BROKER was shortlisted for NYU Graduate Film’s coveted “Purple List” of 2016 Best Screenplays. Kiara is the winner of the 2019 BRIO award for her sci-fi pilot, Proxima, which is currently being reviewed by HBO via 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 “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 at NoBudge as part of Caryn Coleman’s (Future of Film is Female) Guest Curator Week. As a writer, Alessandra’s work has focused on queer and Latinx communities and has been nominated for Oscars (“After Maria”) and featured in Tribeca, IFP Labs, Netflix, National Geographic and Refinery29.
Alessandra is a worker-owner of Meerkat Media Coop based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where she directs, produces, and edits crafty, impactful videos for foundations, newsmagazines, publishers, and nonprofits.
Jiwon Lee (JW Lee) is a screenwriter with a background in journalism. She has worked in television and print, both in short and long form; his credits include Emmy-winning documentaries and live-action shows. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Wharton Business School and has primarily focused on financial news.
She won a place in the Channel 4 (UK) screenwriting program in 2019 and in the Writers Lab sponsored by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman in 2019. She was also part of the studio group at the Royal Court Theater (UK) and was 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 recently returned to New York after living in London for over 20 years.
Christopher Radcliff is a Chinese-American filmmaker whose work has screened around the world at festivals including Sundance, SXSW, IFFRotterdam and Clermont-Ferrand. Her debut feature 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 United States and around the world in 2018 and was named by John Waters as one of the ten best films of the year in Artforum Magazine.
He is the recipient of the Fortissimo Films/Wouter Barendrecht award at IFFRotterdam’s Cinemart, a grant from the Rooftop Films Filmmakers Fund, and has participated in the Berlinale Talents Script Station, the Emerging Storytellers program and the IFP Project Forum, and residencies at the Wassaic Project (2017 Screenwriting Fellow) and the Swatch Art-Peace Hotel in Shanghai. He received his MFA from the Graduate Film Program at Columbia University, where he received the Ezra Litwak Award for Distinction in Screenwriting.
Tererai (Teri) Rusike
Tererai (Teri) Rusike is a Zimbabwean-American writer and dreamer who resides in Brooklyn. Born in East Lansing, Michigan, to two immigrant doctoral students, Tererai was brought back to Zimbabwe when she was 3 years old. As an American-born Zimbabwean, Tererai identifies with a nuanced form of transnational blackness and often explores this multifaceted identity in her writing. Stuck between two cultures, Tererai likes to explore the identity of “the other” and often mixes drama and comedy to interrogate this complex identity in modern society.
His short film, SAVIOR was quarter-finalist at Slamdance. Once developed into a feature, SAVIOR was a semi-finalist at the Atlanta Film Festival and reached the second round at the Austin Film Festival and Sundance Lab. She received her BA in English Literature and Psychology from Rhodes University, South Africa. In 2019, Tererai completed her Masters in Screenwriting at 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 BA in English. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in 2017. Before turning to a career in screenwriting and film, Becky spent a year covering pop culture for a digital media site at 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’s main interests are 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.