Contact: Gregg Mitchell (323) 782-4574
 
News Release: March 23, 2011

2011 WGAW Writer Access Project Honorees Announced

Program Helps Open Doors for Diverse Writers

LOS ANGELES -- The Writers Guild of America, West has announced its 2011 WGAW Writer Access Project honorees, comprised of 13 diverse television writers who competed in the comedy and drama script categories.

As part of its efforts to enhance the employment opportunities of diverse writers, the WGAW launched the Writer Access Project in 2009. Now in its third year, the Guild’s innovative program, coordinated by the WGAW Diversity Department, identifies writers with television staffing experience and makes samples of their work available to entertainment industry decision makers, including showrunners, producers, network and studio executives, agents and managers.

The 2011 Writer Access Project honorees are:

2011 WAP COMEDY HONOREES

Oahn Ly (Criminal Minds)
Jay Roberts (Breaking Bad, story editor/staff writer; Guess Who, associate producer; Barbershop 2; associate producer)
Pamela Ribon (Samantha Who?; currently developing her second novel, Why Moms Are Weird, for ABC Family)

2011 WAP DRAMA HONOREES

Sal Calleros (Private Practice, story editor; 2006 ABC/Disney TV Writing Fellow)
John Lansing & Bruce Cervi (Walker, Texas Ranger, 1995-2000)
Melody Fox (Flash Gordon and The Haunting Hour)
Dawn Comer Jefferson (Judging Amy, South of Nowhere)
Robin Madden (Diagnosis Murder, Jake and the Fat Man, Walker, Texas Ranger; producer and story editor)
Casandra Morgan
Silvia Olivas
(Moesha, co-producer; The Brothers Garcia, co-executive producer)
Chris Ruppenthal (Quantum Leap, supervising producer; The Outer Limits; co-executive producer)
Ursula Wendel

“The Writer Access Project continues the Guild’s proactive efforts to help promote increased access to television jobs for writers who’ve been historically underemployed within the entertainment industry, as well as providing a useful resource for showrunners looking to increase diversity on their writing staffs,” said WGAW Director of Diversity Kimberly Myers.

“There are far too many talented, experienced writers waiting for their shot to get back in the game. They’re hungry, but for many reasons – being unemployed, working in a different genre or medium. They don't have access to showrunners who are staffing their shows. They don’t get into the mix,” said The Walking Dead Executive Producer and fellow WAP judge Glen Mazzara. “The Writer Access Project changes that. Now, when staffing a show, we’re able to tap a brand new source of artists who have already been in the trenches and proven the most important thing – that they can put it on the page.”

To spotlight the written work of this year’s WAP honorees, the WGAW website features a selection of their scripts – an original pilot and spec episode writing sample from each writer – along with bios and other information, at: http://www.wga.org/wap.

“I’m thrilled to be a Writer Access Project honoree because every writer just wants an opportunity to have their scripts read by experienced executives and showrunners. WAP guarantees this type of priceless access,” said 2011 WAP honoree Silvia Olivas

One of the primary obstacles that many diverse writers face is the act of simply getting read – by showrunners and industry executives who may be able to open doors to potential employment. To that end, WAP has so far produced tangible results: for example, last year’s WAP honorees Courtney and Kelley Turk now work as Story Editors on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. “The WAP program has helped us immensely in terms of giving us confidence at a time when we had little to none…we will always be grateful,” said Kelley Turk.

“As past Writer Access Project honorees, we have a calling card that tells the industry we are endorsed by some of the Writers Guild’s most respected members. This continues to make it easier to introduce ourselves to new people in the industry and to reconnect with those already familiar with our work,” commented past WAP honorees/writing partners Gina Gold & Aurorae Khoo. “WAP validated our efforts as a new writing team and ultimately helped us get staffed. The program’s mission to connect underrepresented writers with television decision makers in a blind submission process erases issues of gender, race, disability, age, and sexual orientation. This is a noble effort and no small feat in Hollywood.”

For WAP consideration, qualified WGAW members were invited to submit their work in one of five diversity categories: minority writers; writers with disabilities; women writers; writers age 55 and over, and gay and lesbian writers. The entries were read and scored on a blind submission basis by panels of WGAW members with extensive television writing experience, including current and former showrunners and writer-producers. A total of 78 scripts (24 in Comedy / 54 in Drama) were submitted: 33 in the category of minority writers, two in the category of writers with disabilities, 26 in the category of women writers, 13 in the category of 55-and-older writers, and four in the category of gay and lesbian writers. A total of 30 semi-finalists (22 in Drama / eight in Comedy) advanced to the second round of judging, conducted by a panel of showrunners and high-level writer-producers, to select the WGAW’s final group of over a dozen 2011 WAP honorees.

Seventy-three Writers Guild members participated in the 2011 WAP judging process, including Winnie Holzman (Huge), Aaron Shure (The Office), Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy), James Duff (The Closer), Steven Bochco (Raising the Bar), Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead), David Shore (House), Kathleen McGhee Anderson (Lincoln Heights), Danielle Sanchez-Witzel (My Name Is Earl), and William Martin (Hank).

On Saturday, March 19, WAP judge Mazzara conducted his popular seminar, “Telling Your Story: How to Interview with a Showrunner,” as part of the WAP program’s educational component. Tailored for WAP honorees, Mazzara’s annual session focuses on creating a “personal narrative” as a way for writers to talk about themselves as both a writer and an authentic person when interviewing with showrunners for potential writing positions – a key skill in helping secure a television writing staff position, according to Mazzara.

For further information about the WGAW Writer Access Project’s eligibility and submission criteria, judging process, and WAP honorees, as well as access to their scripts, please visit: http://www.wga.org/wap.

For press photos of the WGAW’s 2011 WAP honorees, please click here.
Photo credit: Michael Jones 

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.