Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud and the Sundance Institute are pairing up to put Black women at the forefront of comedy, with a new screenwriting fellowship program called “Women Write Now.” Designed to champion the next generation of Black women in comedy, the new initiative focuses on providing one-on-one mentorship opportunities to Black women screenwriters, as well as the funding to develop and produce those projects and a platform to exhibit them.
Meagan Good, Bresha Webb and Gabrielle Dennis have signed on to direct the winning screenplays, whose above- and below-the-line crew will be primarily staffed by traditionally underrepresented talent. The short films will ultimately premiere at a private screening during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. “Black women have contributed to some of the industry’s most successful and innovative film and television content.
Yet, opportunities for this group are still few and far between; especially in comedy. With ‘Women Write Now,’ we’re not just shining a light on a problem, but also illuminating a path to long-term solutions,” Thai Randolph, Laugh Out Loud’s president and COO, said of the new program.
“This project is another in our mission to cultivate, empower, and amplify diverse talent both in front of and behind the camera,” Randolph added. “We’re honored to partner with Sundance Institute to elevate the voices of talented Black women because we know that when you invest in women of color, it pays off in dividends.” The “Women Write Now” program is set to work as follows: Emerging non-union writers over 18-years-old are invited to submit for the fellowship between July 8 and August 5. Approximately 10 finalists will be invited to interview with a jury panel of filmmakers, industry leaders and executives from Laugh Out Loud and Sundance Institute.
“Our collaboration with LOL speaks to the core values of the Sundance Institute mission,” Michelle Satter, the founding senior director of the Sundance Institute’s artist programs, added. “Seeking the boldest and most promising independent voices and inviting them to hone their skills with established writers and industry figures, ensures a rich and thriving group of rising creatives. We are especially excited to support and amplify Black female comedy writers through this partnership.” From that group, three to five screenwriters will be selected to take part in the fellowship, which includes individualized mentorship and creative and professional development opportunities, a $10,000 stipend, a four-night trip to the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and a first look deal with LOL Studios.
A marquee part of the fellowship is a two-week screenwriting lab hosted by Laugh Out Loud, designed to help the selected writers develop their short scripts and receive guidance on how to thrive in the business once this special project ends. “Black-ish” writer Yamara Taylor has signed on as the lead screenwriting mentor for the lab, providing one-on-one mentorship and support for the fellows before their scripts go into production.
In addition to the Sundance premiere, Laugh Out Loud will distribute the short films across LOL Network, which has grown to reach over 100 million global consumers across platforms including Peacock, PlutoTV, Tubi, Roku, Snap, YouTube, Xumo and more.
This Article Was First Published on variety.com