Meryl Streep Funds Lab for Women Screenwriters Over 40

Meryl Streep womens screenwriters lab
Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

Meryl Streep has funded a screenwriters lab for women writers over 40, to be run by New York Women in Film and Television and IRIS, a collective of women filmmakers.

The creation of the lab, and Streep’s involvement in its founding, was announced Sunday at a panel discussion presented as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Called the Writers Lab, the screenplay development program aims to increase opportunities for female screenwriters over the age of 40. This year the initiative will accept submissions May 1-June 1, with eight winning scribes named Aug. 1.

Among the mentors to participate in the Lab’s inaugural year are writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Beyond the Lights”), producer Caroline Kaplan (“Boyhood”), and writers Kirsten Smith (“Legally Blonde”) and Jessica Bendinger (“Bring It On”).

According to NYWIFT, Streep ponied up a “significant” contribution to fully fund the Lab. The actress has been a longtime supporter of NYWIFT.

The Writers Lab will take place at a retreat in upstate New York.

NYWIFT, which presents the annual Muse Awards as well as the Designing Women honors, is an entertainment industry association that supports female leadership in film, TV and digital media. Collective IRIS was founded by a trio of women with the goal of championing the female voice in narrative film.

Further information about the Lab, including how to enter, can be found on NYWIFT’s website.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 51

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Meryl- I’ve written two screenplays with you in mind. One is a 105 page script that takes place in Venice Beach, CA. It is a drama/comedy Spiritual story, and empowering for women. Your character is the female side of God with Will Smith as your male counterpart. It is a collective cast and would do well to be made by a major studio as it will be a high budget. The other is a 75 page full feature with two main characters. You of course the female lead to show what happens when a woman of a certain age, gets pushed over the edge by a 2o something gay, racist male. It’s a drama, which I would like to see independently produced as it is a low budget, timely and empowering story for women over 60. Please do view my website and if there is interest, please contact me. I’m Los Angeles based, well over 40 and ready to get this show going. Thank you! Marguerite Fair

  2. Roni Kincaid says:

    Meryl is a bad person—she believes only NY City and LA have actual voices in the election. So sad.

  3. Alba Adkins says:

    Dear Meryl, I am so sorry I missed the dead line for June 1, 2015 the lab for women over 40 years old which I do qualify, then I would love to be notified for another opportunity like that…Also, if it will be possible for you to read my synopsis, for some reason I got the feeling that you will love it..Best regards

  4. Dear Meryl, Based on the life of someone I knew well, (now deceased) and set in 1964, the story has parts for three intelligent, attractive women aged from 45 to 60.
    I keep reading that actresses in that age bracket are crying out for suitable parts – but how do I reach these people? I have already published. Google “1663 UNSHRIVEN 1963” or www.

  5. Tab Bee says:

    I did check it out Elinor Nahmani and discovered that out of the thousands of entries, only 8 people will be selected for an intensive writing seminar in New York without mention of who will be paying for the accommodations to attend. The industry has to come up with a better way to find new writers. Currently, producers are looking to Scandinavian and European countries for innovative ideas and new writers. I think this is abominable seeing as there is so much talent floating around Los Angeles right now that can’t get the notice of the industry. At present, there is a shortage of writers and Showrunners for TV programs, however, the industry has NOT developed a way to find talented writers and funnel them into the available TV writing opportunities. The diversity programs, The Nicholl’s Fellowship, and the many competitions (UCLA, Scriptalooza, and Final Draft, just to name a few) can only put a limited number (from 1 to 8) of new writers into the industry in a year. This isn’t enough to fill the current need and with all the new venues now producing original programming (Netflix, hulu, Amazon, etc), the opportunities for fresh ideas and approaches will only increase.

  6. Aleta Karpan says:

    It’s a shame that you apparently cannot be a talented screen writer without a Bachelor’s degree according to this program.

  7. Meryl Streep, you are a woman after my own heart. I had just turned 40 when I started screenwriting some 20+ years ago.

  8. I wish i could leave Brazil to join this group someday! Meryl is such a lady.

  9. dinahwbrin says:

    Thank you, Meryl Streep!

  10. I have publications, novels titled Suzanna and Poor People’s Flowers, part one and two of a trilogy set in 1920’s New Mexico. I am excited to ask if they program can help someone who has no screenplay in hand but willing to work her fingers raw to write one.

  11. 120 page screenplay, no problem … first I have to admit I’m over 40 …

  12. Amapola Ola says:

    This is great!

  13. …….Meryl….how about us guys (men) Screenwriters Over 40?…..I think 1st time Screenwriters should be the criteria in order to be eligible for the fund….whether Female or Male or an It…..I am a tough Screenplay judge and would be available for the job….also Meryl, I have a self written screenplay that will knock the socks off you……might even have a small part in it for you to sing an aria……contact me if your looking for work……Michael Walters….

  14. Lyn Austin says:

    Thank you all, for this amazing opportunity. I write novels and do not have enough experience at screenwriting to enter. However, I feel that the baby boomer surge is in full power. I am starting a new line of women’s fiction for readers 40 and older. I’m 61 and I now have more time to write exactly what I want to read. I believe we have a whole country of woman who are demanding a higher quality in all areas of our work. Meryl is helping writers in her field of expertise. When I have the money I will help women in my area. We can pay this forward in every area of our lives. It’s time we find the hidden nuggets in the minds of women who have been silenced too long. I can just imagine the power that will flow through the workshop. Damn, Damn, I would love to be there! Lyn Austin

  15. Old Maid says:

    Great, thanks so much Meryl! Now female writers won’t have to have pay their daughters to show up for the pitch meeting!

  16. What a wonderful idea, I have a book to get published it is called, “A Heavenly Gift”, its a true interesting story of the start of my life as a Medium at 40 years old and what led up to it all.

  17. cellsumfrost says:

    Wonderful news. Thank you, Ms. Streep! In a perfect world, you will discover the NEXT Nora Ephrons. We NEED them.

  18. After admiring her as a fabulous actress almost my entire life, now I like her more than ever.

  19. daniella says:

    I ‘m looking for a writer to write my story.

  20. Maureen Briskin says:

    I wrote the story of my life. Meryl Streep if you are interested. It is called “PROMISES” and is on Please read the logline ,synopsis and the manuscript is also listed. Or anyone else who would be interested. Thank you. Maureen

  21. Lucifer says:

    See, this is more along the lines of what activism actually is. Giving people the opportunity to help themselves instead of demanding someone else do the work for you. I see far too many people going around demanding “more of x working in [insert job]” but they should be trying to help people break into whatever field of job they are focussing on by giving them the tools and education they need for it.

  22. lindacraig55 says:

    I attended 2 writing retreats this fall and I have been looking for another opportunity to learn and grow as a writer. Thank you for releasing this information, I will definitely apply! As a 59 year old woman I am inspired that someone sees the value of our life experiences and that talent does not fade with each passing year. Thank you, Ms. Streep!

  23. Thank you, Meryl Streep! There is wonderful untapped substance in older women that needs to be mined and supported.

  24. Ms. Streep Totally Rocks The House.

  25. Chrystal says:

    What an absolutely fabulous thing for Meryl Streep to do, and what an awesome opportunity for women.

  26. Jen says:

    Such a great opportunity, now I regret divorcing my husband, going back to my home country and losing my green-card.

  27. Bonnie Han says:

    Why restrict this opportunity to only American female script writers? Why tell only American based or biased narratives when the world has a bigger platform , a more spectacular spectrum of talented female scriptwriters whose stories never get told or appreciated?

    • Piper says:

      Why can’t other countries do this sort of thing with their own stars. Why does America always have to help everybody else instead of its own people. Sweden and France and Germany don’t feel that way. Why should America?

    • Dark Sky says:

      Because Meryl Streep is American – she is a rich, successful actor because of the opportunities the American Film industry gave her. Now she is in a position to give something back to the industry that has been so good to her. In other words, don’t hold your breath for Meryl Streep to fund opportunities for Swedish or French or any other non-American female scriptwriters. It’s not going to happen.

  28. Joy Karen says:

    OMG! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You So Much!

  29. shefilms says:

    Thank you Meryl for showing us the way! I hope more women will follow in your foot steps!! I’m thrilled to see this happening! Ladies, let’s keep it up!

  30. apres says:

    WOW!!! AWESOME!!!
    Its about effin time women start funding their own. First Emily’s List in politics & now the Writers Lab for film. Can’t wait to see the first productions of film out of this lab.


  31. Lisa says:

    Sounds good. I’m glad to see a prominent woman in the industry helping out her sisters. This may begin to level the playing field a bit.

  32. TJ says:

    Thank you Meryl.

  33. This is a miracle. I went back to the University of Washington at age 47 and finished a bachelor’s degree culture, literature and arts that I had started ages ago. Then I went for my MFA in creative writing at UW. This is an amazing opportunity! The biggest obstacle at my age isn’t talent, new ideas or anything like that, it’s being heard over forty, thank you Meryl Streep and IRIS. I’m going to submit. I’ll have to figure out to pay to get to New York if I am accepted. VERY EXCITED!

  34. michele says:

    Where is the information on how to enter?

  35. Lisa Bahar says:

    Women helping Women! Wow what an inspiration. My creative wheels are turning…FADE IN:…

    • seems a good idea…Too long Hollywood films only bring in women as decor…as “window dressing”…as moveable “toys”..

      Too few substantial female parts,(with thinking females), female directors, writers, etc. etc.

      Recently saw “Unbroken”…which is a fine WW 2 film directed by Angeline Jolie!

  36. nhparry2288 says:

    Figures, I’m in L.A., so I can’t be a part it. Ironic, since I’ve been trying to get my Susan B Anthony script to Meryl Streep for ages.
    Still, it’s a great thing for her to do. She’s really amazing.

  37. veronica says:

    How AWESOME!

  38. SimSiren3 says:

    Submissions open in less than two weeks, and yet there’s no information about how to actually submit?

    • At the very end of this article it tells you where to get further information about how to enter the Lab. It’s the very last sentence of the article.

    • Filmsterchick says:

      Yes, exactly… Post the Info please…. however, if there is a will, there is a way… pretty sure googling the info given you will find out how… there is also IMBD Pro and contact info for all involved, I am sure a question posed to an assistant and one of the offices ill render the info. Good luck!

  39. tasha says:

    Nooo!!! What about the ones over 19 O_O fmL.


  40. CelluloidFan35mm says:

    At least someone’s putting their money where their mouths are.
    Many complain and do nothing but complain and some try to force or bully their way in.
    I can respect someone who’s actually putting forth the effort to give others a shot.

More Film News from Variety