EXCLUSIVE: The Black List and Google today revealed the four writers who were selected as the inaugural Black List x YouTube Originals Black Voices Creator Fellows. The recipients are Beverly Chukwu, Shannon Hawkins, Brandon Hines, and Duchant Johnson. More information about the Fellows is below.
The Black Voices Fellowship provides financial grants and creative support to writers in developing proofs of concept for a television show pitch. Each Fellow will receive $40,000 each for the purpose of producing a proof of concept and developing a pitch for their television series that authentically reflects the Black experience.
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The Black List and Google also pair each fellowship recipient with one showrunner mentor and two additional writer mentors. This year’s showrunner mentors are Monica Owusu-Breen (Alias), Owen Smith (Blask-ish), Aaron Rashaan Thomas (Friday Night Lights), and Larry Wilmore (Insecure). Additional writer mentors included Kay Oyegun (This Is Us), Karen Joseph Adcock (The Bear), Amanda Idoko (Breaking News In Yuba County) Joy C. Mitchell (Bridgerton), Felicia Pride (Grey’s Anatomy), Gia Gordon (Law And Order) Davia Carter (Queen of the South), and Jon Dorsey (This Is Us).
“In March of 2021, McKinsey & Company released a study estimating that Hollywood misses out on $10 billion every year due to anti-Black bias,” said Black List founder Franklin Leonard. “That bias takes many forms. One of them is an underinvestment in the early careers of creators with extraordinary talent, and we’ve been incredibly proud to partner with Google alongside this incredible team of mentors to invest in exactly that sort of extraordinary talent. The folks who continue to do so will be rewarded greatly, as might we all if we have the opportunity to watch the shows that these folks are creating.”
The Black List and Google previously collaborated on a Storytelling Fellowship that provided financial and creative support to five writers in the development and execution of a new film or TV pilot. Each of the five Fellows were awarded $20,000 with the purpose of supporting themselves for six months during their creative process. Their mentors included Max Barbakow (Palm Springs), Andy Siara (Palm Springs), Marja Lewis Ryan (The L Word), and Erica Rivinoja (Marry Me).
“When talented creatives are overlooked, we all miss out on great stories. We’re thrilled to partner with The Black List to help this incredible group of Black storytellers share their work and get us closer to a world where everyone can belong,” said Miles Johnson, Head of Belonging Marketing, Google.
About the Fellows:
Logline: After a very public miscarriage, a sheltered woman is exiled from her religious Nigerian community and forced to start over in an unfamiliar city, where she is haunted by the figures of her childhood imaginary world.
Beverly “Bev” Chukwu is a Nigerian-American writer, filmmaker, and script consultant from Garland, Texas. Chukwu’s producing projects have screened at the Women in Horror Film Festival, Cine Las Americas, and AGLIFF, and her screenplay, Prince Of Lavendale Street, was the 2021 BlueCat Screenplay Competition feature winner. She has spent over seven years working in various mental health arenas and a year providing behavior therapy to neurodivergent youth and adults. Chukwu has received fellowships from the Black List x WIF Episodic Lab and the James A. Michener Center for Writers, where she also received an MFA in screenwriting and fiction. Chukwu continues to advocate for filmmakers as EA to the Head of Film and Creative Media at the Austin Film Society.
Logline: A lifelong wild child returns to her sleepy conservative hometown to raise her recently deceased best friend’s 9-year-old daughter, where she struggles to navigate the challenges of co-parenting, PTA meetings, and mean-girl moms without losing her own rebellious spirit.
Shannon Hawkins is a comedic writer and creative who has devoted the bulk of her post-grad life towards the pursuit of episodic television writing. As someone who believes “all of our black stories are authentically black stories,” she focuses on showcasing the nuance and vastness of Black heritage within the US. More specifically, her stories center on Black protagonists thrust into unorthodox, off-kilter situations and people who come of age later in life. In addition to writing, Hawkins, works in marketing for a global entertainment company, was a 3x quarter-finalist at Austin Film Festival, and was an inaugural member of the Mentorship Matters 2021-2022 class.
Project: Mess Hall
Logline: A black queer New Yorker returns home to Georgia after his estranged mother, a local jazz legend, passes away. To his surprise, she has left him an abandoned nightclub in her will, which is filled with the bygones and ghosts of his family’s past.
Brandon K. Hines is originally from High Point, NC. After veering off the medical school path, Brandon climbed his way up the production ladder, working on projects such as: 30 Rock, Royal Pains, Sex and the City 2, and many more. After finding his footing, Brandon discovered his love for TV writing and transitioned to working as a Script Coordinator and Writer’s Assistant, gathering over a decade of writers’ room experience, working on shows such as Crashing, High Maintenance, and Awkwafina is Nora from Queens. In 2019, Brandon was given his first writing job on the ABC International/French M6 series, Reef Break. Since, he has written for the MTV variety series, Yo! MTV Raps: Asia, Season 2 of Harlem for Amazon Studios, and Fellow Travelers for Showtime. To this day, Brandon continues to create queer and diverse stories across various platforms.
Project: Year Of The Goat$
Logline: In a land of hate, stereotypes and mumble rap, two Asian American best friends with different views of success try to convince the world they’re the future of hip hop.
Duchant Johnson is a screenwriter from Irvington, New Jersey. His first love was boxing. After winning a few amateur tournaments, he considered turning professional but after a chance meeting with an attorney while jogging in an upper-class suburb , Duchant decided to try his hand at law school. It was instant disappointment. While in law school Duchant wrote his first script, Legal Slackers, a comedy based on his experience as the only minority in his law school from the inner city. He continued to hone his craft while boxing, hoping to do anything other than become a lawyer. In 2015, Duchant graduated law school and is currently a constitutional lawyer. He continues to focus on his writing with hopes of transitioning into a career as a full time writer.
The partnership was brokered by UTA Entertainment & Culture Marketing, the brand consulting division of UTA, which represents Google.
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