WGA West Announces Feature Access Project Honorees

The program aims to open doors for diverse screenwriters.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has announced its Feature Access Project (FAP) honorees, recognizing five members who competed in the Guild’s pilot diversity screenwriting program. 

The honorees are Chuck Hayward (for Potluck), Dwayne Johnson-Cochran (Bibi), Vivian Lee (Eve at the Bar), Zak Shaikh (The Ignoble Rise of Lord Rex) and Paula Yoo (Popular Science).

“There is no more troubling statistic in the film and TV industry than the underemployment of persons of color, particularly in the area of feature screenwriting,” said FAP advisory committee member Doug Atchison (Akeelah and the Bee). “Good writers can write about anybody, not just those characters whose biographies they share.”

Coordinated by the WGA West Diversity Department, the project seeks to identify outstanding diverse writers and make their scripts available to entertainment industry decision-makers, including producers, studio executives, agents and managers, to help raise their profile and generate potential employment opportunities. 

“Our diversity programs introduce the industry to very talented WGA writers that may have been previously overlooked and also make the point: good writers of all walks of life write good material and deserve to be hired based on their talent,” said WGAW board of directors and FAP advisory committee member Katherine Fugate (Valentine’s Day).

Each honoree will be paired with an established WGAW feature writer who will serve as a career mentor.

“The decision to target minority writers in this pilot program was based in significant part on data contained in the WGAW’s 2011 Hollywood Writers Report,” said WGAW director of diversity Kimberly Myers.  In 2009 the employment of minority writers in feature films declined for the first time in a decade – from 6 percent to 5 percent.

For FAP consideration, qualified minority writers were invited to submit a current, feature-length, unproduced spec script.  Entries were read and scored on a blind submission basis by a panel of judges comprised of WGAW members recruited by the FAP advisory committee. More information about the honorees and complete versions of their screenplays can be found at http://www.wga.org/fap.html.

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