EXCLUSIVE: Starz’s #TakeTheLead Writers’ Intensive has revealed the 10 participants selected from 500 applicants for the first phase which begins August 22.
The finalists are Alejandra Lopez, Corey Dashuan, Gabby Revilla Lugo, Ida Yazdi, John Lowe, Jorge Thomson, Naiyah Ambros, Nzinga Kemp, Raymond Arturo Perez and Tennessee Martin. The cohort includes writers from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds and captures the kind of inclusivity that Starz celebrates in its programming, talent, and throughout its organization.
The program gives finalists access to industry insiders, including Starz executives Kathryn Busby, Kathryn Tyus-Adair, Giovanna Desselle, Sebastian Arboleda and Jordan Lippetz; Jairo Alvarado and Tony Gil of Redefine Entertainment; Molly Breeskin of Gina Rodriguez’s I Can and I Will Productions; Gary Lennon, Starz showrunner Power Book IV: Strength, Kelly Goode at Warner Bros. Television; Lauren Jane Holland of the Creative Artists Agency; Felicia Pride, screenwriter and producer of Grey’s Anatomy. Serving as advisors, mentors, and/or speakers, these contributors will help the cohort gain a comprehensive understanding of the TV writing ecosystem and guide them in navigating their careers as emerging TV writers.
The Writers’ Intensive is a collaboration between Starz, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers and NewFilmmakers Los Angeles.
“All of us at NALIP and NFMLA are thrilled with the breadth of talent represented by our shortlisted writers, as well as the overwhelming response from aspiring writers during the application process,” said Karla Pita Loor, Board Chair of administration of NALIP and Larry Laboe, co-founder and executive director of NFMLA in a joint statement. “We encourage writers who were not selected to take advantage of the many programs our organizations offer throughout the year.”
The first phase of the program will launch on August 22, 2022 and run until September 16, 2022. Up to four participants will be selected to advance to phase two, during which they will develop, write and pitch an episode script specific for an ongoing Starz show with support from program mentors.
Read more about cohorts in their own words below.
Lopez’s short film Cape Blue received an honorable mention in the Best Live Action category at the Oscar-qualified Cleveland International Film Festival. She has written and directed for Sony Pictures Television, W Magazine and Marvel Entertainment. Originally from Puerto Rico, Alejandra is replaced by Bellevue Productions and WME.
Dashuan is a Los Angeles-based writer who has written about one of us is lying for Peacock. He is a 2021 Sundance Episodic Labs Fellow. As a 2021 Film Independent Project Involve Fellow, Corey was the recipient of the Sony Pictures Entertainment Fellowship for his short film HARD.
Gabby Revilla Lugo
Revilla Lugo began her career as an independent producer as Palm Springs eventually consulting on projects for directors like Taika Waititi. She recently sold 16 Candles reboot on Peacock and has several projects in development with partners like 3Pas, Gina Rodriguez, MGM International and AGC studios. She writes character-driven Latin comedy-drama.
Yazdi is an Iranian-American writer raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a former architect, having worked in architectural studios around the world before embarking on a career as a television writer. She earned a master’s degree in screenwriting from Columbia University and is currently a screenplay coordinator for HBOMax.
Lowe, a Notre Dame graduate, is very loud, very gay and very black. Not that these things are related. In 2022, he received his first writing credit on the Netflix series, Virgin River. Her passion is writing emotional dark character-based soap operas and dark comedies.
Thomson is a comedy writer with Cuban, Puerto Rican and New Mexican roots. Jorge was the writers’ PA on ABC modern familyshowrunner’s assistant to Jeffrey Richman on Netflix Decoupledand is currently the showrunner’s assistant to Michael Jonathan Smith on Peacock’s twisted metal. Jorge was a 2020 NHMC Writing Fellow and 2022 Disney Writing Fellowship finalist.
Ambros is an Afro-Latin and African-American filmmaker from New Jersey. She was previously the scripted development coordinator for Vice Studios and is currently in the MFA program at USC where she is a George Lucas Fellow. More recently, his film Agua de tu Madre received the prestigious Panavision New Filmmaker Fellowship.
Kemp is an award-winning interdisciplinary writer, filmmaker and creator based in Los Angeles. His work has been screened at international festivals including TIFF and the BlackStar Film Festival, and his short film, Jamaica T. Jones, streams on Streampix. His TV credits include Waiting & The first family.
Raymond Arturo Perez
Perez is a Mexican-American gay storyteller raised in San Antonio, Texas and based in Los Angeles. More recently, he was a screenwriter on Netflix season 2 Selena: the series. Its original pilot Waco’s Only Gay was selected for the first Out Loud list.
Martin is a Southern screenwriter who has worked on hit shows such as Fox/Netflix’s LuciferCBS’ training dayand Starz’ Family crimes. Tennessee’s macabre first short, Hangrywon Best Horror Film at the Toronto International Women’s Film Festival and its pilot Sutton Holler classified no. 5 on the gold list in 2022.