Shaina Ghuraya and writing partners Greg Machlin and Aoife Baker are the latest screenwriting fellows awarded by Inevitable Foundation, whose mission is to fund and mentor mid-career disabled screenwriters.
The foundation’s funders include Warner Media/AT&T Foundation, Ford Foundation and the Conrad Hilton Foundation.
Ghuraya, along with Machlin and Baker will be awarded a $25,000 grant and access to six months of mentorship, workshops and networking opportunities with entertainment industry leaders. They join Shani Am. Moore and Kalen Feeney, the program’s spring 2021 fellows.
Ghuraya, a wheelchair user, is a Netflix writing apprentice and writer on the streamer’s show “Boons and Curses.” She graduated from USC’s MFA Film and Television Production program and Academy Gold and received a SFFilm Rainin Grant.
Machlin and Baker, who both identify as neurodiverse, have written on the PBS KIDS series “Pandemic Playhouse,” which includes a segment on a disability both writers share. Machlin was a semi-finalist for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship and the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition. Baker began their career as a professional costumer before becoming a screenwriter.
Inevitable Foundation is founded by Richie Siegel and Marisa Torelli-Pedevska, both with personal connections to physical and developmental disabilities. With their support of disabled writers, the duo are looking to close the disability representation gap in film and television.
“Mid-career disabled screenwriters face numerous barriers that make it exceedingly difficult to turn early breaks into thriving careers,” said Siegel and Torelli-Pedevska in a joint statement. “Our fellowship program, the only of its kind in the industry, is dedicated to helping mid-career writers make the jump from working on other people’s projects to developing their own, putting our fellows in positions of power.”
The fellowship is already proving beneficial to past awardees. Since becoming a fellow, Moore, who lives with multiple sclerosis, secured a writing position on BET show “Kingdom Business” and has written on Hulu’s “The Bold Type” and Netflix’s “Sweet Magnolias” where she has been able to write a disabled character into each show.
Inevitable recently co-hosted PopShift: Disability Leaders, an event that brought together disability leaders and disabled writers along with show runners and executive producers from shows including “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Friday Night Lights,” “The L Word” and “How I Met Your Mother.” The conversations focused on ways to increase disability representation on and off screen.