Through Monica White Pigeon
LOS ANGELES — On Monday, the Native American Media Alliance (NAMA), a Native American advocacy organization, announced it was accepting applications for the 6th annual Native American Television Writers’ Lab. Part of LA skin party, this intensive writing program is offered in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, A+E Networks and Kung Fu Monkey Productions.
Running from April to May, the five-week lab offers seven seasoned Indigenous writers the opportunity to develop their skills and prepare them for work in the entertainment industry. The lab will take place virtually and will consist of one-on-one meetings, panel discussions, and group workshops. At the end of the program, each entrant must complete at least a half-hour comedy or drama television script, which will be pitched to network executives from NBC, Bad Robot, Netflix and more.
As a project of the Barcid Foundation, a non-profit organization that uses multimedia programming in Indigenous communities, NAMA supports contemporary Indigenous content creators through professional development and advocates for inclusion.
The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) recently released its insertion report, which identified a persistent lack of representation for women and people of color. Employed indigenous screenwriters represent only 0.8% of screenwriters and 1.1% of television screenwriters. The report also noted that “there is ample evidence that once employed, writers from underrepresented groups encounter lifelong barriers”, such as “various types of prejudice, tokenism and harassment”.
NAMA, and others Indigenous-led organizations, aim to challenge these industry practices to create more diverse and equitable work environments. The initiative functions as a resource for industry personnel to work with Indigenous peoples, who provide an authentic voice in television, film and new media.
Barcid Foundation CEO and NAMA Chief Strategy Officer Ian Skorodin (Choctaw) said, “We’ve had an incredible five years in the lab that have seen many fellows flourish. We intend to expand the ranks of Native Americans in writers’ rooms across the ever-growing television industry. In our sixth year, we look forward to providing unique and rare opportunities to a bright and exceptional new group of Native American talent.
Notable alumni include Shelley Dennis (Choctaw), who is currently working on Netflix’s “Spirit Rangers,” Tom Hanada (Cherokee), who directed a project for Will Smith’s Westbrook Entertainment, and John Timothy (Muskogee Creek), who was an editor on Amazon’s “The Leverage”.
“I’m so honored to be a screenwriter for Spirit Rangers, a new fantasy adventure series from NETFLIX! The show is about a modern Native American family (with animal spirits and magical adventures),” said Dennis in an October Instagram. Publish.
“The show was created by the talented Karissa Valencia of the Chumash tribe, and she put on an all-Indigenous venue. So grateful to her and EP, Chris Nee (Doc McStuffins, Vampirina) for bringing Indigenous stories to the masses! Many thanks to LA SKINS for their support.
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