[08/29/06 - 12:00 AM]
Disney/ABC Television Group and the Walt Disney Studios Continue to Lead the Industry in Fostering Future Above-The-Line Talent

[via press release from ABC]



Program Offers Mentorship and Funding to Writing, Filmmaking and Directing Talent from Diverse Backgrounds

Disney/ABC Television Group and The Walt Disney Studios announce the recipients of the 2006-2007 Talent Development Scholarship Grant Program. This year's seven Scholarship Grant recipients will each receive $20,000, with their sponsoring organization receiving $10,000 toward the continued support of the arts in their respective communities.

Overseen by Robert Mendez, senior vice president, Diversity, Disney/ABC Television Group, the grant and scholarship awards were developed to find and foster diverse writing, filmmaking and directing talent, and assist college students and members of non-profit institutions by providing support for the development of new creative ideas. Recipients are paired with a mentor during the 10-month grant period, and the program offers a series of workshops, including pitch meetings at ABC Entertainment and The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.

"We are committed to leading the industry in discovering and cultivating future creative talent from diverse backgrounds and communities across the nation," said Mr. Mendez. "This is a unique opportunity for talented individuals to receive financial and one-on-one support to expand their abilities and grow their futures."

Past participants have gone on to participate in the Sundance Feature Film Program, assist Spike Lee on a feature film, be staffed at top entertainment companies including Nickelodeon and Discovery, sell pitches to New Line and Buena Vista Motion Picture Group, and win numerous awards for their independent films and scripts.

This year's winning individuals and organizations are:

* Julia Candler and Suzi Shimoyama Mercer (writing team)

CAPE - Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment

Julia Candler and Suzi Shimoyama Mercer's winning script proposal, "Full Ride," explores the unseen side of college athletics by following four Division I student athletes adapting to the pressures of college in the glare of the national spotlight.

A comedy writer, Candler received her BFA in Theatre from the College of Santa Fe. She is also a graduate of Chicago's Second City Conservatory. She has written and produced extensively for the stage and has also trained with The Groundlings in Los Angeles and Gotham City Improv in New York. Julia has worked in the entertainment industry on numerous projects in film, television, theatre and commercials. She is currently studying at UCLA in the Professional Program in Screenwriting.

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Ethnic Studies, Shimoyama Mercer went on to work in film and television production and development. She got her start on the popular children's television series "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" as an ADR writer, and was later hired as Story Editor for the "Wild Force" season. Most recently she has worked as Series Development Coordinator for the USA Network. She is currently studying at USC in the Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical program.

Founded in 1991 in Los Angeles, the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) is a non-profit organization, promoting diversity in the media arts and entertainment through educational programs that develop the next generation of Asian Pacific artists and leaders, and bridge intercultural understanding between Asian Pacifics and the community at large.

* Sydney Freeland

IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

Sydney Freeland's winning short film proposal is "3:59." In a world where performance-enhancing drugs are now legal, a Native American woman of the future attempts to break the four-minute mile barrier without steroids.

Sydney Freeland was born and raised on the Navajo Indian reservation in Northern New Mexico. She attended Arizona State University, where she received a BFA in Computer Animation. She is currently working on her MFA in Film at the Academy of Art University of San Francisco. he has two sisters, Sandra and Star, along with an insane amount of Navajo cousins.

The Institute of American Indian Arts is a multi-tribal center of higher education dedicated to the preservation, study, creative application and contemporary expression of American Indian and Alaska Native arts and cultures.

* James Huang

Visual Communications

James Huang's winning script proposal is "White Christmas," in which Chris Ching gets his ultimate Christmas wish -- a chance to be white.

Huang slugged out four years of caffeine-addled nights in Pittsburgh as an Engineering major to earn his BS from Carnegie-Mellon, when he realized that the pen was mightier than the pocket protector. Since then he's been acting, filmmaking, and working to develop carpal tunnel through writing that he hopes will touch souls as deeply as he has been touched by masters of the art... or at least get a laugh by page three.

The mission of Visual Communications is to promote intercultural understanding through the creation, presentation, preservation and support of media works by and about Asian Pacific Americans. Visual Communications was created with the understanding that media and the arts are important vehicles to organize and empower communities, build connections between generations, challenge perspectives, and create an environment for critical thinking, necessary to build a more just and humane society.

* Tvli Jacob

First Americans in the Arts

Tvli Jacob's winning script proposal, "May December Fall," takes a comedic/dramatic look at the romance between a 19-year-old guy and a 38-year-old woman who find their age difference may be the least of their problems.

Jacob is a Choctaw Indian from Oklahoma. He has worked on several documentaries, movies and television shows, and been published in magazines and other collections of creative writing. Ever since he was a kid, he enjoyed telling stories, even when teachers told him not to. Currently he's a freelance videographer, editor, director, writer and producer.

First Americans in the Arts is a nonprofit created to recognize, honor and promote American Indian participation in the powerful arena of the entertainment industry.

* Bernadette Rivero

NALIP, National Association of Latino Independent Producers

Bernadette Rivero's winning script proposal, "Native Son," follows the trail of Cuba's answer to Sherlock Homes, who battles a Santerma-inspired killer when he surfaces in Miami.

Rivero received her BA in Writing from Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, and pursued graduate studies as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar in Mexico. She has spent several years as a journalist for CNN, NPR, PBS and The Weather Channel. She won a spot as a Nickelodeon Writing Fellow in 2003, then made a full-time switch to Hollywood. She has been a ghostwriter for more than a dozen commercial and film directors around the world. Most recently she has worked as a script reader and story analyst for Ridley and Tony Scott's company, Scott Free Productions, as well as Samuel Goldwyn Films and Hero Pictures.

The National Association of Latino Independent Producers promotes the advancement, development and funding of Latino/Latina film and media arts in all genres. NALIP is the only national organization committed to supporting both grassroots and community-based producers/media makers along with publicly funded and industry-based producers.

* Kimberly Wilson-Lauziere

Robey Theatre Company

Kimberly Wilson-Lauziere's winning script proposal, "Beloved Affrica," is about the pale-skinned, outcast member of a militant African-American family who struggles to find love and acceptance.

Raised in small-town Connecticut, Wilson-Lauziere received her BA in English from Howard University and MA in Film and Television (Writing) from American Universiy. She is a 2006 Cosby Fellow of the Guy Hanks & Marvin Miller Screenwriting Program. She has worked in television programming as a program associate for PBS' national headquarters. She has also worked for Asguard Entertainment, serving as a writer/researcher for programs produced for the History Channel, BBC and TLC. Kimberly resides in Los Angeles.

The Robey Theatre Company is dedicated to exploring and developing relevant, provocative and innovative new plays written about the Black experience, as well as to re-interpret established works. Robey creates a nourishing environment of understanding and support in which multi-cultural theatre artists are compelled to take risks in the search for artistic fulfillment.

This year's judges and mentors include: Bob Billingslea, The Walt Disney Company; Laurie Byrne, Disney Worldwide Outreach; Lucia Cottone, Lifetime Television; Jan Chaloner, ABC Television Network; Trina Chow, Disney/ABC Television Group; Liz Dickler, Touchstone Television; Nne Ebong, Touchstone Television; Marjorie Frazier, The Walt Disney Studios; Tiffany Gardner, The Walt Disney Studios; Frank Gonzalez, Disney/ABC Television Group; Leah Hoyer, Disney Channel; Sarah Hughes, Touchstone Television; Sue Johnson, ABC Daytime; Tim McNeal, Disney/ABC Television Group; Robert Mendez, Disney/ABC Television Group; Tanya Menton, ABC Inc.; Marci Meron, ABC Family; Donna Moy, ABC Television Network; Todd Murata, Buena Vista Motion Picture Group (BVMPG); Ray Ricord, ABC Entertainment; Antoinette Salvadori, The Walt Disney Studios; Josh Simon, BVMPG; Reena Singh, Disney Channel; Carmen Smith, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; Shane Snoke, BVMPG; John Solomon, Walt Disney Television Animation; Mac Torluccio, BVMPG; Fernando Torres, ABC Television Network; John Wolk, ABC Television Network; Adam Wolman, Disney/ABC Television Group; and Sonia Yi, Disney/ABC Television Group.

The Disney/ABC Television Group's commitment to discovering and nurturing diverse talent is exemplified through a variety of landmark programs, including The Walt Disney Studios and ABC Entertainment Writing Fellowship, ABC-DGA Directing Fellowship, Casting Project, Talent Development Scholarship Grant Program, Summer Television & Film Workshop at the Institute of American Indian Arts, American Indian National Center for Television and Film, ABC/Touchstone Television Production Associates Program, Directing Assignment Initiative, Animation Apprenticeship, Writers Assignment Initiative, and Writers Assistant Initiative.

For detailed information about these programs or to receive an application, candidates should call the hotline at (818) 560-6894 or go to www.abctalentdevelopment.com.

  [august 2006]  

(series past and present)
(series in development)
(tv movies and mini-series)

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