Universal Selects 5 New Fellows for Emerging Writers Program

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
From Left: Salim Lemelle, Tom Hanada, Zelle Bonney, Carlos Rios, Kristen Davila

Jason Blum, Michael De Luca, Marc Platt, Scott Stuber and other producers will serve as mentors and guest speakers in the program.

Universal Pictures has selected the five fellows for its second annual Emerging Writers Fellowship. Zelle Bonney, Kristen Davila, Tom Hanada, Salim Lemelle and Carlos Rios will participate in the 2015-2016 program, which aims "to identify and cultivate emerging voices with a passion for storytelling and screenwriting."

The writers, who went through an extensive application process that included multiple writing submissions and interviews, began their paid fellowship at the studio earlier this month and the program will run for one year. The program gives the aspiring writers an inside look at the inner workings of the studio, and allows them to participate in studio development and learn from some of the most experienced writers and producers in the business.

Throughout the year, they'll participate as part of the daily production engine and working on specific writing assignments and Universal development projects, and will be overseen by Universal Pictures co-presidents of production Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum. A series of filmmaking workshops and studio seminars have also been organized for the fellows by program manager Heather Washington and director of production development Sara Scott.

Each fellow is paired with writer mentor throughout their fellowship. And this year, many of the producers who have first-look agreements at the studio — including Jason Blum, Michael De Luca, Marc Platt, Scott Stuber and Imagine Entertainment's Erica Huggins — will serve as mentors and guest speakers in the program.

The five participants from the first yearChandus Jackson, Margaret Lester, Steve Martinez, Ivy Pruss and Saila Reyes — have acquired representation and are currently being considered for film and television writing assignments. They've also all kept in touch with their mentors from their fellowship, who included Chris Morgan and Jeremy Garelick.

"We are incredibly proud of our inaugural fellows and were thrilled to have watched them grow and mature as great storytellers and take full advantage of what this program has to offer. It is no surprise that they are finding success as they enter into the next phase of their careers,” said Cramer.

"This new class of fellows has some large shoes to fill, but based on their submissions and unique voices, it is very clear that we have chosen some of the most creative and talented up-and-coming writers in our business," said Kirschenbaum.

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