NYC Agencies & WGAE Launch Program to Increase Diversity Among TV Writers

Made in NY Writers RoomNY?s television industry is about to see some much-needed parity.

The Mayor?s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) yesterday announced the launch of the Made in NY Writers Room.

?Every day, SBS is carrying out the Mayor?s plan to build a more vibrant and inclusive economy, by opening doors to economic opportunity for all New Yorkers,? said?Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. ??The Made in NY Writers?Room?is an excellent example of how SBS partners with other City agencies and industry leaders to create programs that advance careers ? and support a diverse, competitive workforce.?

According to information released my the SBS, a record-breaking 52 series were filmed here during the 2015-16 season, with surging growth in the industry driven by the proliferation of networks and platforms commissioning scripted content. While this unprecedented volume creates immense opportunities, the prospects for women, people of color, and those from underserved communities who are interested in writing for television are more limited. A recent study by the WGA West analyzing entertainment industry employment data through 2014 shows the share of television employment of minority writers was 13 percent, while women writers made up 29 percent of the workforce. Given these numbers, creating opportunities for writers of diverse backgrounds helps foster a more inclusive environment both on set and on camera and one that is more reflective of our diverse society.

Similar to the National Black Programming Consortium?s mentoring programs and incubators, the Made in NY Writers Room is an intensive six-month fellowship that will provide talented writers from diverse backgrounds with the tools they need to excel in NYC?s thriving television production space. It will essentially match aspiring writers with established show runners who have written some of today?s most successful shows on network and cable TV such as House of Cards, Empire and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.????

The program will be available to New York City-based writers through a competitive application process, which opens for submissions on September 15, 2016. The program will begin in June 2017.

?The shows that are written and shot in New York City are seen all over the world. When the television industry promotes diversity, it makes their content better and it has a positive, far-reaching influence on workplaces across the country. I thank the Mayor?s Office of Media and Entertainment, the New York City Department of Small Business Services and the Writers Guild of America, East for strengthening a culture of diversity in our entertainment industry with this fellowship program,? said?Council Member Corey Johnson.

?As New York City continues to become a destination for entertainment, we must ensure that our homegrown writers and producers have the opportunities and resources they need to be successful in the television and movie industry,? said?Public Advocate Letitia James. ?The Made in NY Writers Room will provide in-depth curriculum and experiences to New Yorkers from a wide variety of backgrounds that will enable them to thrive. We must support programs that will attract and maintain this type of talent to ensure New York continues to be a leader in this space.?

So far, Sarah Treem?(The Affair),?Lee Daniels?(Empire),?Beau Willimon?(House of Cards),?Julie Klausner (Difficult People),?Julie Martin?(Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), Brian?Koppelman?(Billions),?David Levien?(Billions) and?Richard LaGravenese?(The Divide) are among the participating mentors who?ve signed on.