As we went over last week, Hollywood is white as hell, despite the fact that the country is made up of plenty of people who aren’t white. What’s to be done about it? We could burn down the Dolby Theatre and do away with the Oscars forever, but that would be a mostly symbolic way to deal with the problem. The other thing that can be done is seeding Hollywood with more diverse voices so that TV and movies start looking more like America.
CBS is trying to help with that a little and you can be the beneficiary of it, by applying to be part of their Writers Mentoring Program, a program to help get the feet of writers from diverse backgrounds in the door at CBS and allow those writers to become known to executives and show runners who wouldn’t otherwise know of them. The submission period just opened yesterday; the deadline to get your stuff in is May 2.
The ultimate goal of the Writers Mentoring Program is to give access and opportunity to writers from diverse backgrounds, particularly by helping those writers “understand the unwritten rules of breaking in and moving up.” The biggest opportunity in the program comes from the fact that you get paired with a CBS network executive, who’ll meet with you regularly to talk about what you’re working on, give you creative feedback and advice on your career, give you support and show how to boil down your creative vision into a tasteless gruel that the CBS audience will eagerly lap up. You’ll do all this over six months, from October 2016 to March 2017
You also get to participate in a weekly seminar where show runners, executives, agents, managers and other machers will show up to talk with you about how the business works, get some time to sit in on a writers’ room to see how things work there, and get help forming a career action plan so that you can wake up one day and realize you’ve made it and you’re the new Chuck Lorre (but muuuch less scummy).
The program eligibility is pretty simple. If you’re at least 21, looking to break into the world of TV and are willing to relocate to Los Angeles (here are the pros and cons of that), you’ve got a chance to kibitiz with all sorts of Hollywood big shots. Just shoot over a resume, your application, a letter of intent, two writing samples (an original pilot or stage play along with an episode script for any show broadcast on TV, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon) and a signed release form for your writing samples. Don’t dilly-dally on all this, you’ve only got until May 2 to get all of this done.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE
Much like the housing lottery, which has no downside to entering as often as you freaking can, there’s more than one network-connected diversity writing program out there. There are the HBO Access Writing and Directing Fellowships, which we’ve written about before. Get your directing chops in order, because while the writing fellowship has no looming entrance date, you’ll be able to start applying for the directing fellowship on April 6.
And there’s also FOX Writers Intensive, a four-month curriculum which seeks to get diverse writers in their pipeline and will be taking submissions in the fall of 2016. NBC has a Diversity Initiative For Writers, but it doesn’t have a date for when you can apply. But also LOL who in god’s name wants to be associated with NBC right now?