Jane Millichip and Anne Mensah’s blog: Supporting Diverse Screenwriting Talent

Monday 17 May 2021

Netflix, Bisha K Ali and Sky Join Forces to Support Diverse Screenwriting Talent 

By Anne Mensah, VP, UK Original Series, Netflix and Jane Millichip, Chief Content Officer, Sky Studios

As members of the entertainment industry, we believe that we can do more to support British talent in all its diversity. We want to make shows that reflect the world in which we live and develop a more inclusive pipeline of creatives across all production roles, providing those from all backgrounds reason to aspire.

We have made real strides in the television industry in the UK, but now is not the moment to rest. True diversity in our industry is all about who gets to tell the stories. Who has agency in decision-making? We need more diversity among those who commission stories; we need directors who can shape our understanding through a combination of lived experience and creative vision; we need screenwriters who can create multidimensional characters that transcend  stereotypes.

At Netflix and Sky, we continue to look for new ways to drive progress - and we believe that working together and with others to change industry standards is vital.

That’s why today we are  launching a new year-long screenwriters fellowship for six outstanding writers. The programme is spearheaded by the British screenwriter Bisha K Ali, who was part of the writing team for the first series of Sex Education and is now the Head Writer of Marvel Studios' Ms. Marvel series. The programme includes:

  • First-hand experience inside the writers room of a Netflix or Sky-commissioned series.
  • Ongoing mentorship support from a member of the Netflix or Sky commissioning teams once the programme ends.
  • The opportunity to develop a shadow script alongside the writers and producers on set.
  • A full bursary paid for the duration of the fellowship.

We want to give an opportunity to those from Black, Asian or other racial and ethnic backgrounds currently underrepresented in the film and television industry. We are also specifically looking for writers who haven’t yet found  representation. To qualify applicants must submit a full script. 

We know we have a long way to go to ensure the industry is fully representative, but we believe this fellowship is a step in the right direction. No single studio, programme or person can change the industry alone. But we can collaborate to create a more inclusive industry where many tales are told and many voices tell those  stories. 

Article first published in Variety