Laugh Out Loud and Sundance Institute select three writers for inaugural Women Write Now comedic screenwriting fellowship
Laugh Out Loud announces partnership with NBCUniversal; All three titles to stream during an exclusive window on Peacock and one fellow to receive a development deal
Writers Wilandrea Blair, Danielle Nicolet, and Moni Oyedepo will have their scripts produced and developed by LOL Studios under the guidance of lead mentor Yamara Taylor and industry leaders including Leigh Davenport, Val Boreland, Zainab Johnson, and more. Gabrielle Dennis, Meagan Good, and Bresha Webb are signed on to direct.
Today, Laugh Out Loud, the multi-platform comedy brand founded by Kevin Hart, and Sundance Institute, the non-profit film organization behind the Sundance Film Festival and Labs, announced the three selected fellows for their inaugural Women Write Now screenwriting fellowship, a program designed to champion the next generation of Black women in comedy. As part of a new partnership between Laugh Out Loud and NBCUniversal, the projects from all three fellows will stream exclusively on Peacock, and one fellow will receive a career-defining development deal.
The three selected writers—Wilandrea Blair, Danielle Nicolet, and Moni Oyedepo—were chosen from a pool of over 670 scripts submitted by aspiring writers across the country between July 8th and August 5th. 17 semifinalists were selected from 672 submissions, and after interviews with the program directors and LOL Studios executives, the group was carefully narrowed down to ten finalists, whose scripts were presented to a jury panel of award-winning filmmakers, industry leaders, as well as executives from LOL and Sundance Institute who selected the final three fellows.
"When we started this program, it was always with the intention of creating meaningful opportunity for Black women in comedy and changing the industry narrative around this talented and dynamic group of women who have traditionally been overlooked," said Laugh Out President & COO and program Founder Thai Randolph. "What we've seen through this program is that there is no 'pipeline problem.' Danielle, Moni, and Wilandrea are three incredible writers who represent an unbelievably great pool of talent, and we couldn't be more thrilled to partner with NBCU to create more opportunity and visibility for these women."
In the coming weeks, the three finalists will develop their scripts through one-on-one guidance from "Black-ish" writer, "Saved By the Bell" executive producer, and Women Write Now lead screenwriting mentor Yamara Taylor as well as receive mentorship on both their projects and careers from a panel of mentors and creative advisors working across the industry.
In addition to Taylor, mentors Val Boreland (EVP, Head of Content Acquisitions, NBCUniversal Television & Streaming) Keesha Boyd (Executive Director, Multicultural Entertainment, Comcast / NBCU), Tiffany Brown (VP, TV Development, Hartbeat), Leigh Davenport (Writer + Executive Producer "Run the World"), Tabitha Jackson (Director, Sundance Film Festival and Public Programming), Staci R. Collins Jackson (CEO, The Collins Jackson Agency), Zainab Johnson (Comedian and Actor, "Upload"), Thai Randolph (President & COO, Laugh Out Loud), Folayo Lasaki (Head of Marketing & Communications, Laugh Out Loud), Bresha Webb (Actor, Writer, "Run the World"), Candice Wilson Cherry (Head of Production & Development, Laugh Out Loud), and Michelle Satter (Founding Senior Director, Artist Programs, Sundance Institute) are set to guide the final writers as they get their scripts production ready through a series of five curated lab sessions.
"To say that it was no easy task to narrow the list down to our three fellows would be a gross understatement, but the sheer talent of the writers made the process a joy" said Laugh Out Loud, Head of Production & Development Candice Wilson Cherry. "This program has been a reminder of how much untapped talent exists—talent that is poised for opportunity. With their incredible scripts, Danielle, Moni, and Wilandrea each brought to life impactful, funny stories that jumped off the page. We are thrilled to be rolling into the next stage of the program with this incredibly gifted group of emerging writers and look forward to bringing their visions to life."
Each writer and project, will be paired with one of the Women Write Now guest directors—Gabrielle Dennis ("A Black Lady Sketch Show"), Meagan Good ("The Intruder", "Think Like a Man"), or Bresha Webb ("Run the World")—and production will begin later this month.
The 2021 Women Write Now screenwriting fellows and their projects are:
- BUDDY AND BERNICE
Writer: Wilandrea Blair
Logline: A nursing home's famous funny man feels upstaged when his old comic nemesis moves in, reigniting their bitter rivalry. Knowing a hearty laugh could put each of them in cardiac arrest, their goal is to tell jokes that kill — each other. (Directed by Gabrielle Dennis)
- BLACK KAREN
Writer: Danielle Nicolet
Logline: On the advice of a therapist to treat her anxiety by, "thinking and behaving like happy people do", one Black woman notices that white people seem pretty happy… (Directed by Meagan Good)
- TAKE THE JOB
Writer: Moni Oyedepo
Logline: When Bri is offered a full-time job at the end of her internship, she's shocked by the one stipulation her employer has for the position. (Directed by Bresha Webb)
In partnership with Laugh Out Loud, NBCUniversal will provide a development deal for one Women Write Now fellow. At the culmination of the lab, each writer will pitch their projects to programming executives, and one will be selected to develop a project for NBCUniversal, co-produced by LOL Studios.
"Developing diverse voices has long been a part of NBCU's ethos and Laugh Out Loud and the Sundance Institute have been magnificent like-minded partners," said Susan Rovner, Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. "With Women Write Now, we're able to use our platform to help support a new generation of Black women in comedy, taking an important step in ensuring more audiences see their lives reflected on screen."
Selected projects will be produced by LOL Studios and premiere at a private screening during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The three writers will each receive a $10,000 stipend, a four-night trip to the Festival, and a first look deal with LOL. Following the Festival, the final short films will premiere and stream on Peacock for an exclusive window before releasing wide on LOL Network to an audience of over 100 million viewers.
About Laugh Out Loud
Laugh Out Loud is a comedy brand and multi-platform entertainment company dedicated to keeping the world laughing together. Founded by comedian, actor, and producer Kevin Hart, LOL delivers the best in comedic content and experiences across its multiple divisions—LOL Audio, LOL Network, LOL Studios, and LOLX. From stand-up legends to the next generation of comedic talent, LOL curates comedy's boldest voices to produce original scripted and unscripted series, stand-up specials, radio shows and podcasts, live broadcasts, experiential activations, and more. LOL content is distributed to a diverse, global audience of more than 100 million fans across the LOL OTT Network of FAST Channel partners including Pluto, Peacock, Tubi, Roku, Xumo, Redbox, and more. LOL Audio has access to an additional 100 million listeners via partnerships with SiriusXM, Stitcher, and Pandora. Known for content such as "Cold As Balls", "What the Fit", "Comedy in Color", "Die Hart", and more, the company has amassed more than 1 billion video views across its digital platforms, and has worked with brand partners such as AT&T, Headspace, Lyft, Old Spice, P&G, Viacom, and more. Find them online at www.laughoutloud.com or on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat via @lolnetwork.
Peacock is NBCUniversal's new streaming service. Peacock delivers a world-class slate of exclusive Originals, on-demand libraries of hit TV shows, plus critically acclaimed films from the vaults of Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and Hollywood's biggest studios. In addition, Peacock taps into NBCUniversal's unmatched ability to deliver a broad range of compelling topical content across news, sports, late-night, Spanish-language, and reality. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.
About Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute's signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such recent projects as "The 40-Year-Old Version", "Clemency", "I Carry You With Me", "Never Rarely Sometimes Always", "Zola", "Time", "Minari", "Boys State", "Pariah", "American Factory", "The Farewell", "Honeyland", "One Child Nation", "The Souvenir", "The Infiltrators", "Sorry to Bother You", "Won't You Be My Neighbor?", "Hereditary", "Call Me By Your Name", "Get Out", "The Big Sick", "Mudbound", "Fruitvale Station", "City So Real", "Top of the Lake", "Between the World & Me", "Wild Goose Dreams", and "Fun Home". Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.