Now that creators like Jenji Kohan, Nic Pizzolatto, Vince Gilligan, and Shonda Rhimes have made being a TV writer an occupation where you might, at some point, get your picture taken (and thus an occupation worthy of pursuit), increasing numbers of young people are stepping off of the proverbial Greyhound bus from Kansas City, suitcase full of spec scripts in hand, and proclaiming with pluck and an infectious sense of wonder, “Here I am, Hollywood! I’m going to be a showrunner!”
Problem is, though, that a lot of those starry-eyed ingenues also happen to be straight white dudes. Look at HBO—aside from Girls, the majority of whose episodes were written by the same four women (Lena Dunham, Sarah Heyward, Deborah Schoeneman, and Jenni Konner), the average HBO’s writers’ room has more white guys than an indie-rock show in Iowa.
To its credit, HBO is trying to correct this imbalance. It is doing so through its newly launched HBOAccess Writing Fellowship, which provides so-called “diverse and female” (“diverse” here presumably being shorthand for people of color and LGBTQ people) writers with the opportunity to attend a week of classes at HBO’s headquarters in Santa Monica, California, “Focusing on character and story development, pitching ideas and projects, securing an agent, and networking.” Each writer in the program will then be guided through an eight-month script development process under the leadership of an HBO executive, after which they will be “introduced to the entertainment industry” at what will no doubt be the world’s most awkward debutante ball.
To apply, writers must be 21 or over and be eligible to work in the U.S., and have less than 13 episodes/one feature film/two plays’ worth of professional writing experience. HBO will begin taking applications for the fellowship on March 4 on its Withoutabox page, and will automatically close the application portal when 1,000 applications have been received (we suggest having your application prepared ahead of time). Eight participants will be chosen to begin master classes in August, so good luck and may the next great creative genius win.