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Issa Rae’s Talent Drive Leads to Sci-Fi Pilot ‘The Awoken’

Sky and Talos Films also back Fresh Wave! initiative

Buyers in L.A. got a first look at “The Awoken” this week, a new pilot presentation emanating from Issa Rae’s drive to find TV writers from under-represented sections of society.

Rae, creator, co-writer and star of HBO’s “Insecure,” has spearheaded the Fresh Wave! initiative through ColorCreative, the production company she runs with producing partner Deniese Davis. New York-based producer Talos Films also backed Fresh Wave!, as did Sky Vision, the distribution arm of European pay-TV giant Sky.

Katelyn Howes beat 2,000 other entries to win the competition with “The Awoken,” about a teenage girl, Alabine Rivers, who is cryogenically frozen and brought back to life in 2103. She joins an underground group of rebels who have also been awoken from their deep-freeze and are fighting for human rights in the dystopian future world.

“We believe ‘The Awoken’ does what all great science fiction does: It moves the heart as well as the mind,” Talos Films co-presidents Elli Hakami and Julian P. Hobbs said in a statement. “It also give us a lens into our present by looking into the near future.”

Howes said that “the producers and mentors of ‘Fresh Wave!’ have provided a thoughtful and unique program that has allowed a female-created sci-fi world to come to life.”

ColorCreative is making the 10-minute pilot presentation, which was funded by Talos and Sky Vision. The latter has first option to distribute the project if it is picked up and taken to series and has also optioned several other Fresh Wave! entries.

Sky Vision boss Jane Millichip told Variety that it was attracted to the initiative as it tackled social mobility in the TV business and also generated fresh content that it hopes will work commercially.

“The point of the competition was to appeal to would-be writers who don’t normally get a look in and to create something tangible, and in so doing we might get a new perspective on a story,” she said. “From the outset this was designed to be a commercial venture as well and these projects need publicity and business backing.”

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