Contest For Writers Of Color: Winning Script Gets Attention From Lena Waithe, Eva Longoria, Macro, Black List

Written by Dana Sanchez

A new script-development contest for writers of color aims to find ideas that push boundaries, challenge the status quo, and advance equal representation for people traditionally excluded from opportunities in Hollywood.

Just 4.8 percent of TV writers are Black, and that’s a big part of Hollywood’s diversity problem, according to a report that examined 234 broadcast, cable and streaming scripted series from the 2016-17 season.

The contest is offered by The Macro Episodic Lab, the result of a partnership between Emmy-winning writer Lena Waithe (she co-wrote and acted in the Netflix series “Master of None”), actress-producer-director Eva Longoria (“Desperate Housewives”), Macro Ventures and Franklin Leonard’s the Black List.

Hollywood mogul Charles King launched his multi-platform media company, Macro Ventures, in 2015 to focus on stories of people of color. It didn’t take long for Macro to score nine Oscar nominations for films “Fences,” “Mudbound,” and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

The Black List, an annual survey of the “most liked” motion picture screenplays not yet produced, will provide the data-hosting infrastructure for contest submissions, Variety reported. The Black List has been published every year since 2005 by Leonard, a film executive, based on a survey of studio and production company executives.

This is an opportunity for writers of color to develop and produce an original digital or TV pilot script, according to the Macro Episodic Lab website.

“Our mission is to discover and empower episodic storytellers with the proper creative tools, resources, and access needed to help launch their careers,” Macro said.

Macro said the development lab partnership is part of the “the shift towards equitable representation,” according to Variety. “We are thrilled to join forces as Macro continues to produce and champion work that is rooted in authenticity, creativity and excellence.”

Waithe said working with Macro and The Black List is a great way for her to find scripts that otherwise wouldn’t reach her desk, Deadline reported.

Longoria’s company, UnbeliEVAable, has always had the mandate to nurture and foster diverse voices. “So, when Macro and The Black List presented us with the opportunity to participate in the episodic lab, we knew this was the perfect partnership,” Longoria said, according to Deadline. “Discovering emerging voices is one of the most thrilling parts of producing and we can’t wait to bring these stories to screen alongside Lena and the team.”

Hollywood’s struggle with diversity and inclusion was thrust into the spotlight by the #OscarsSoWhite movement. Inequality has historically ruled in writers’ rooms, in front of the camera, behind the camera, and in boardrooms, which fail to represent the growing diversity of ticket buyers and entertainment consumers.

In November 2017, a study conducted by UCLA Dean of Social Sciences Darnell Hunt and nonprofit civil-rights advocacy organization Color of Change, found that two-thirds of the 1,600-plus episodes of TV shows analyzed had no black writers at all.

They produced a report, “Race in the Writers’ Room: How Hollywood Whitewashes the Stories That Shape America.”

Applications will be accepted from June 6 to Aug. 6. Up to three winners will receive development support and a pilot presentation or a budget of up to $30,000 each. Winners will be announced in December, Variety reported.

“We look forward to hearing from and supporting the next generation of game changers, rule breakers, and brilliant minds that exist at the intersection of craft and culture.” — Episodic Lab.

writers of color
Macro Episodic Lab