Based upon my experiences earning my Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting from UCLA, participating in the Writers Guild of America, west’s Independent Screenwriters Caucus, and working in Los Angeles in the entertainment industry for over 10 years, I have compiled this list of the top 5 most significant diversity screenwriting contests, programs and fellowships. Actually, my list contains 6, because they were all so close in terms of prestige, access to industry insiders and the ability to promote the emerging diverse writer’s career.

1. The Disney-ABC Writing Fellowship

Begun in 1990 in partnership with the Writers Guild of America, west, this has become one of the industry’s best known and most respected writing fellowships. More than 200 alumni number among Hollywood’s elite, including screenwriters, directors and television showrunners. A limited number of full-time fellowships are available each year for both feature film and television projects.

2. NBC Diversity Initiative for Writers

NBC is proud of the existing diversity within the writing staffs of its Primetime Series. In order to further encourage diversity among our writing staffs, NBC provides funding for a minority Staff Writer position, open to all scripted NBC Primetime Series. These positions are filled with writers selected and hired by the show runner/producers of each show, with the guidance of the network and studio(s). Though submissions are read on an ongoing basis, positions are generally filled during the March – June staffing season.

3. Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship

Developed to broaden Nickelodeon’s outreach efforts, the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship is designed to attract, develop and staff writers with diverse backgrounds and experiences on Nickelodeon Network productions. Operating in a three-phased structure, the Fellowship provides a salaried position for up to one year and offers hands-on experience writing spec scripts and pitching story ideas in both live action and animation television.

4. The Guy A. Hanks & Marvin Miller Screenwriting Program (Cosby Writing Program)

Drs. Bill and Camille Cosby established the Cosby Writing Program in 1993, at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. It was named in honor of Camille’s father, Guy Alexander Hanks and Bill’s producer, Marvin Miller. The fifteen-week intensive workshop was designed with a two-fold purpose: To assist writers in the completion of a film or television script and to deepen the participants’ appreciation for and comprehension of African American history and culture.

5. Fox Writers Initiative

A writers’ initiative designed to identify diverse writers for various staff positions on Fox series. Over one-third of the writers from the beginning of the program have gone on to work as Staff Writers or Writers Assistants on primetime series.

6. The CBS Diversity Institute/Writers Mentoring Program

This program links aspiring writers with mentors from the ranks of CBS Network and CBS Paramount Studio executives. Also, writers are mentored by producer mentors from series airing on CBS. Additionally, there are weekly sessions with successful writers, producers and show runners examining in very specific and practical terms many aspects of the experience of being a television writer in Hollywood.

Source by Christopher C. Odom