The project chooses 12 screenwriters to tell African stories

After a rigorous selection process, the Realness Institute, in partnership with Netflix, has announced 12 selected participants for the 2022 Episodic Lab (EPL) and Development Executive Traineeship (DET).

Realness Institute is a non-profit organization that aims to empower Africans to tell their stories from a distinctly African perspective.

Each of the 12 participants (six per program) will receive a monthly stipend of $2,000 during the incubation period to cover living expenses while they focus on their concept and professional development.

The successful candidates were selected from a pool of 200 applications from an open call, which closed on January 21, 2022. The EPL and DET began on May 1 and will run until July 31, 2022, the last week of the program consisting of face-to-face meetings. sessions in Gauteng, South Africa.

For the Episodic Lab, the selected ones are: Hussein Kurji with Bushcamp (Kenya), Khanyo Mjamba with Byline (South Africa), Mlilo Mpondo with Bayeti-Visitors (South Africa), Neo Sibiya with Ukushona Kwelanga (The Setting of The Sun) (South Africa), Sandra Madu with From Lagos with Love (Nigeria) and Voline Ogutu with Dilemma (Kenya).

Selected writers will spend 3 months in a virtual lab where they will work to develop their original story ideas, across genres, alongside mentorship from Realness Institute creative producers Elias Ribeiro and Mehret Mandefro, and story consultants Selina Ukwuoma and Thandeka Zwana. After this mentorship stage, lab participants will have the opportunity to pitch their incubated stories to Netflix executives.

“Anxious and excited,” says Hussein Kurji. “It’s not every day that an opportunity, specifically to showcase African talent, arises. The Lab will bare our handwriting, and we’ll all be better off.

For the Development Executive Traineeship (DET), the candidates are: Babalwa Baartman (South Africa), Khosie Dali (South Africa), Mona Ombogo (Kenya), Neiloe Whitehead (South Africa), Omotunde Akiode (Nigeria) and Pedro Duarte Soulé (Cape Verde).

These selected participants will gain a deeper understanding of the story development process, working alongside creative producers and story experts. DET participants will work as a team to support the development and elaboration of Episodic Lab participants’ respective projects and help translate their concepts into pitch decks. The approach of the Episodic Lab and DET programs is “vertical and horizontal learning”, using the writing rooms as a collaborative space for co-creation.

Although there is no guarantee that a proposal will be further developed by Netflix, it offers participants the space and time to develop their stories and skills with the guidance of international experts, including Netflix executives.