YouTube and Blacklist support screenwriters of color with $160,000 initiative

Since the refocusing of its initial programming strategy at the beginning of the year, Youtube made a strong commitment to black voices. Today, the platform has found another way to support color creators: it has partnered with the Blacklist provide four television screenwriters $40,000 each.

The writers who will receive the payments will be chosen based on their ability to write “exceptional and authentic stories about the black experience,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. A shortlist of 15 finalists will be selected, and from this group, YouTube will choose the four winners in February 2023. The chosen writers will use their $40,000 grants to create proofs of concept and develop pitches.

Along the way, YouTube and the blacklist will offer creative support to contest entrants. Each of the four winning fellows will be paired with a showrunner mentor over a six-month period.

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“It’s no small thing for writers to have access to substantial financial resources to further realize their artistic ambitions without sacrificing their ownership of that work in order to obtain them,” the Black List founder said. Franklin Leonard (pictured above). “We’re thrilled to have partnered with YouTube Originals to provide just that to four writers who tell these kinds of stories. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

The Blacklist highlights unproduced screenplays from across Hollywood, and since its first publication in 2005, it has helped several black filmmakers bring high-profile projects to life. At Ava DuVernay’s Selma (a 2007 List entrant), Lee Daniels’ the butler (2010), and Reinaldo Marcus Green King Richard (2018) are some of the Blacklist alumni that finally hit theaters.

In recent years, the blacklist has offered more explicit support for creators from underrepresented backgrounds. A 2019 partnership with GLAAD sought to elevate unproduced scripts written by LGBTQ+ writers.

YouTube, for its part, has launched numerous initiatives designed to empower color creators. The platform’s Black Voices fund kicked off last year by providing financial support to 132 creators. A year later, YouTube unveiled its latest slew of black-led original programming. This list includes a documentary on Nelson Mandela and new episodes of Marked Brownleeseries retro technology.

UTA brokered the deal between Google and the blacklist. Submissions to the program will be accepted until November 16. More details are available on the Blacklist site.