Neal Street Productions today reveals the five recipients of its previously announced Screenwriters Fellowship program aimed at supporting and nurturing emerging Black, Asian and ethnic minority screenwriters. There has been an excellent response to the programme, with over a thousand entries received from writers across the UK. The latest scholarship recipients were selected by Neal Street’s directors and development team.
Successful writers are Dexter Flanders, Sophia Leonie, Gemma Mushington, Dominique Reid and Kirsty Rider.
The five screenwriters will each receive £20,000 to write an original screenplay, which can be either a TV pilot or a feature film script. The Neal Street team will provide the screenwriters with creative support throughout the screenplay development process.
Pippa Harris said: “We are incredibly excited about the range of unique British voices from our five finalists. The writing samples submitted by Dexter, Sophia, Gemma, Dominique and Kirsty all demonstrate their flair for lively, distinct characters and complex relationships driven by compelling relationships. , emotional and witty storytelling. We look forward to diving deep into their creative worlds as they develop their original new ideas.
Sam Mendes noted:
“The fantastic response to the Fellowship is truly a testament to the wealth of talent among underrepresented voices. We were in the difficult but very fortunate position of having to select our five finalists from an incredibly broad pool of gifted writers. With the support of ‘All3Media, it is a huge privilege to be able to provide financial support and mentoring during their scriptwriting process to these extremely promising artists.
Dexter Flanders trained as an actor at RADA. His first play FOXES was a finalist for the Alfred Fagon Award for Best New Play of the Year by a Black British Playwright. It was supposed to premiere at Theater503 last spring, but the dates were pushed back due to Covid. Dexter was in the writers room for the new street dance-inspired Sky series. He has also been invited back to RADA to write a short film for final year students and is participating in a new audio project on climate change.
“The Neal Street Fellowship gives me the space and time to fully and purely engage in my storytelling, while working alongside a very experienced development team.”
Sophia Leonie is a writer and performer from North London. Her first short, Love and More Important Things which she wrote and produced, was selected for the BUFF Film Festival’s Odeon Love Shorts collection. In the summer of 2020, Sophia was part of the Writers’ Room with Kelebek Media for a new anime series. Sophia is currently developing a script with CBBC for A new television series and was shortlisted for the BBC’s Holby City Shadow Writer’s Scheme in Autumn 2020.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be selected for this fellowship. I believe passionately in telling stories that represent the underrepresented and exploring worlds we rarely see on screen – I can’t wait to get stuck in and begin development on my new idea for a TV series, which as a working artist, in a particularly difficult year, was made possible with this support from Neal Street Productions.”
Gemma Mushington is a screenwriter born and raised in East London. She graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2018 with a First Class degree in Film, Television and Digital Production, specializing in Screenwriting. In 2019, her screenplays were shortlisted for the Thousand Films and BBC Script Room Drama competitions, and her shorthand screenplay was in the top 8% for the BBC InterConnected competition in early 2020. Although she took the time to exploring a career in fitness and independent since graduating, she has continuously made time to write, writing several screenplays and plays.
“I am incredibly grateful and lucky to be one of the recipients of the Neal Street Screenwriting Fellowship, it is literally life changing. I have the opportunity to learn, grow and create with a degree of financial freedom and professional support that has never been available to me before – I am so excited to take this step in the industry and for everything that is to follow.”
Dominique Reid is a self-taught screenwriter from Birmingham. Her passion for writing comes from her personal experience as well as the things that resonate within her to tell a story. Her first screenplay was one of the winners of the BAFTA Rocliffe Comedy competition in 2016. Currently working as an administrator, Dominique uses her free time to create new stories that offer different perspectives and voices on the world we know.
“Receive the Neal Street Productions screenwriting scholarship means the absolute world to me. I am thrilled and excited to work with and learn from some of the greatest minds in the industry – an opportunity to develop my writing that I would not have had without the scholarship. The vote of confidence of Neal Street Productions inspires me to keep telling my stories and I hope one day more people will enjoy it.”
Kirsty Rider trained as an actor at Drama Center London and since graduating in 2016 has performed at The National Theater, The Almeida, The Globe and Regents Park Open Air Theatre. She wrote her first short film Hāfu (2018), which explores the feeling many Britons of color face when their otherness is seen above all else and clashes with how they may see themselves. In 2019 Kirsty secured a place at the Royal Court Writing Group where she wrote her first play and has since completed the pilot for her TV show Re-pulsed, which explores the depths of young women’s rage.
“East Asians are often voiceless in Western media and it is incredibly profound to have Neal Street Productions believe and invest in my voice. I’m British and not white, something that baffles people every day, this is the story I want to see on TV and now I can start 2021 writing it.”
Executed by Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Caro Newlin, and Nicholas Brown, Neal Street Productions successfully producing award-winning movies, TV shows and plays for nearly 20 years. Their recent productions include the Oscar and Bafta in 1917, and for television, RTS winning and BAFTA nominated Informer and Call the Midwife, currently in production on its 10th series, which remains one of the highest rated comeback dramas. UK. Like others in the UK industry, Neal Street is keen to expand the screenwriting talent pool, and in particular to nurture new and diverse voices from black, Asian or ethnic minorities, who are currently under-represented in the UK. The scholarship program is supported by Neal Street Productions‘ parent company All3Media.
For more details on the scholarship program, please visit –www.nealstreetproductions.com.