Meryl Streep’s Screenwriters Program Selects Inaugural Participants

Meryl Streep screenwriters program
Gregory Pace/BEI/REX

New York Women in Film & Television and the Iris film collective have selected 12 screenwriters for the inaugural year of Meryl Streep’s Writers Lab.

The program, which is fully funded by Streep, provides script development for female writers over the age of 40. The Writers Lab, presented in collaboration with the Writers Guild of America East, received over 3,500 submissions.

Here are the participants and their scripts: Sarah Bird, “Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen”; Vanessa Carmichael, “The American”; Tracy Charlton, “Raised Up”; Kellen Hertz, “Ashburn”; Anna Hozian, “Anchor Baby”; Lyralen Kaye, “St. John the Divine in Iowa”; Jan Kimbrough, “The Glastonbury Cow Party”; Billie Mason, “The Cargo”; Peres Owino, “Basketweaver”; Gretchen Somerfeld, “Face Value”; Janet Stilson, “Jaguar Trail”; and Kim Turner, “It Goes Like This.”

The event will take place September 18 to 20 in upstate New York at the Wiawaka Center. Iris is a collective of women filmmakers founded by Kyle Ann Stokes, Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon to champion the female voice through fictional narrative film.

This year’s mentors will include Jessica Bendinger (“Bring It On”), Caroline Kaplan (“Time Out of Mind”), Meg LeFauve (“Inside Out”), Darnell Martin (“Cadillac Records”), Lydia Dean Pilcher (“Darjeeling Limited”), Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Secret Life of Bees”), Mary Jane Skalski (“Win Win”) and Kirsten Smith (“Legally Blond”).

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  1. tayoulevy says:

    this is one of the most brilliant, generous idea I ever see.It says, you are alive, you are useful, you are part of the world, of our community.You have stories and experiences we may share with us. We would be grateful.

    The person who had this idea is one person that maybe our model. What ever happens this won’t be forgotten for any one of us and we must act accordingly with award or no award and carpediem

  2. Filomena says:

    I googled each and everyone of the 12 participants and each are already established in the industry in one way or another… Screenwriter, novelist, journalist, producer, director, actress, IMDB credits, etc. I guess I was too naive to think that this was an opportunity for less seasoned professionals. It would have been nice to have an unknown present in the participants. I’m also willing to bet that most of the 3,500 that did applied thought the same.

    • Piper says:

      So your point is because you weren’t selected it must be because the contest was rigged?? I looked at half of their credits and they had nothing to do with screenwriting. Working a few days on a movie set doesn’t equate to being connected. Writing a blog online doesn’t make you an established journalist. As a woman who wants to make it into Hollywood, you shouldn’t tear other women down. These women are your allies not your enemies. You should have just applauded these women and tried again next year. Bad form.

    • SA Walsh says:

      To your point that the ‘chosen’ were ‘established in the industry in one way or another,’ note that none of them have been able to break through to make a big name for themselves. That’s probably what this program is attempting to do: To elevate and activate the careers of talented women who have experience but without enough clout to get their projects made. It wasn’t ‘naive’ to think that it was an opportunity, it was hopeful. But the lesson presented here IMO is to take steps to elevate your own career rather than rely on “hope” that a career can be made with one great script.

      As a female screenwriter, myself, I see that success is a marathon and that takes preparation, luck, timing, AND hard work and persistence. Build up your creative resume so that someday someone looks at you like you’re established but undiscovered and gives you that big break.

      Let’s be excited for the 12 women who were chosen this time around and ask them to apply the same helping hand that Meryl is providing when they have an opportunity to do so. Good luck to you.
      (suggestions -even though you didn’t ask for any- enter screenwriting contests, take online classes, network, produce short projects)

  3. NHParry says:

    I’ve been told I wasn’t one of them, even though I submitted 3 good scripts to it. I’m NOT happy. I was absolutely convinced I’d be one of the ones chosen. I wanted so much to get word to her that I have a Susan B Anthony script (she’s said, several times, that she wants to play the part). I submitted it.

  4. Mantle Head says:

    I hear Donald Trump is to make a speech… but if the bar these ladies is ‘Ricki and the Flash…’, what’s the point? Not exactly a discerning nose for talent and to tell you the truth… forget it… no point.

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