Mogul and comedian Kevin Hart is on a mission to change the narrative around racial and gender representation in the realm of entertainment. According to Deadline, the Philadelphia native’s production company has teamed up with NBCUniversal and the Sundance Institute for the creation of a screenwriting fellowship program for Black women.
The lack of diversity in the writer’s room has been a longstanding issue. A study conducted by Color of Change revealed two-thirds of shows—featured on traditional networks and emerging streaming platforms—had no Black writers. Further research revealed a mere 17 percent of shows had one Black writer. Aware of the disparities, Hart’s company set out on a mission to cultivate an initiative that would help address the gaps which led to the development of the Women Write Now fellowship program. As part of the project, three scripts penned by writers Moni Oyedepo, Wilandrea Blair and Danielle Nicolet were selected amongst nearly 1,000 submissions. Through the fellowship, Oyedepo, Blair and Nicolet will have their work produced by LOL Studios. The women will also have the opportunity to be mentored by power players in the entertainment industry and pitch projects to the executive team at NBCUniversal. One of them will land a production deal with the mass media and entertainment company and their projects will be streamed on Peacock.
Thai Randolph, who serves as President and COO of Laugh Out Loud, says the initiative was designed to amplify the voices and creativity of Black women, which often goes overlooked. “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,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “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.” Susan Rovner, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming’s Chairman of Entertainment Content, added the program enables the company 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.” Oyedepo, Blair and Nicolet’s projects will make their debut at a private screening during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
Many visionaries within the entertainment industry are creating programs to help creatives chart paths within the space. In June, filmmaker Ava DuVernay joined forces with Google for the creation of a grant to support diverse directors in creating full-length feature projects.