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Universal Pictures Wants Talent Diversity At Studio - Launches Emerging Writers Fellowship

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 15, 2013 2:47 PM
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Universal Pictures has announced the launch of what it calls an Emerging Writers Fellowship designed to identify and cultivate new and unique voices with a passion for storytelling.  

Emerging writers who are chosen to participate in the program will work within the studio to hone their skills and gain access and exposure to Universal executives, producers and other key industry professionals.

This fellowship is a great opportunity for aspiring writers but it’s also a great opportunity for Universal,” said Universal Pictures Co-Presidents of Production, Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum who will oversee the fellows.

As audiences continue to be even more discerning about the films they see, finding new voices with unique and creative ideas is extremely important for our business,” added Kirschenbaum.

Under terms approved by the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), the Emerging Writers Fellowship will allow Universal the opportunity to expand the community of writers with whom the studio works. 

The Fellowship was an idea championed by Executive Vice President of Production Scott Bernstein. Bernstein brought the idea to Universal’s Diversity Council and developed it in collaboration with Arturo Barquet who is Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Film Production at Universal. The Diversity Council, which is led by Universal Co-Chairman Donna Langley, has made the Emerging Writers Fellowship one of its key initiatives in expanding the number of diverse talent within Universal Pictures’ workforce both in front of and behind the camera.

The film group is always looking for ways to bring diverse perspectives into the studio fold and this fellowship is a great way to expand our company’s pool of talent,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for NBCUniversal Craig Robinson.  “These initiatives are extremely important in driving NBCUniversal’s culture of diversity and inclusion in meaningful ways.

Universal will accept applications for the fellowship beginning on September 3, 2013. Interested applicants will be asked to submit a screenplay and other background materials to the studio for evaluation. Ten finalists will be selected and interviewed in Los Angeles. Out of that group, up to five fellows will be chosen to work for the studio over the course of one year. During that time, fellows will work exclusively with the studio and be given the opportunity to work on current Universal projects as well as pitch original story ideas. Fellows will also attend workshops, interact with top literary agents and sit in on Universal’s executive meetings. They will also be assigned industry mentors.    

For information on how to apply for Universal’s Emerging Writers Fellowship, go to

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  • Travis | August 21, 2013 9:28 PMReply

    This sounded really great...right until I got the section of requiring two letters of recommendation from people within the industry. "We want to bring in new people to the industry...provided that you are within the industry". What a load.

  • Momo | August 16, 2013 1:51 PMReply

    I take this as Hollywood running out of ideas and being exclusive while telling stories from a "white" perspective is no longer interesting or entertaining from a growing number of minorities in this country.

  • Guest | August 15, 2013 4:50 PMReply

    So, I need a letter of recommendation from an industry professional just for consideration?


  • lols2dmax | August 16, 2013 5:17 PM

    Total bull shit. They are so going to tank and go out of business. Good riddance. That's what they get for running their mafia style system and not basing it off of merit.

  • Steven | August 16, 2013 4:53 PM

    I'm baffled at that requirement as well. Shouldn't it be about the writing?

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