Disney Extends Relationship With The Black List, Adds to Feature Writers Program

Former NYC middle school teacher Nicole Avenia’s script “The Ice Pond” helped secure her a spot

Walt Disney Studios has selected Nicole Avenia to join its Feature Writers Program from a group of emerging writers identified by The Black List as part of its collaboration with Disney, which was announced earlier this year.

Additionally, Disney has extended its relationship with The Black List to continue finding undiscovered talent with diverse storytelling perspectives. During the first submission period, over 1,000 applicants from across the U.S. and around the globe submitted scripts to The Black List website in order to be considered for the program.

Avenia grew up in Michigan and attended the University of Michigan before moving to New York City to work as a middle school teacher. A freelance writer, she now resides in Los Angeles and earlier this year, her script “The Ice Pond” was named The Black List Featured Script for February 2014. In 2013, Avenia was recognized as a Nicholl semifinalist.

“A strong story is at the heart of every Disney film,” said Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production. “Diverse perspectives strengthen our storytelling and we were impressed by Nicole’s robust, character-driven screenplay and her ability to create a new and immersive world on the page.”

In order to further encourage diversity in all aspects of storytelling and uncover more talented writers such as Avenia, Disney and The Black List have announced a new submission period. Writers from around the world are encouraged to submit their screenplays on The Black List website and opt in for consideration from today until Feb. 15, 2015. The Black List will compile a short list of up-and-coming writers with unique and distinctive points of view, none of whom have earned over $250,000 from their screenwriting work over the past 10 years.

The Walt Disney Studios development team will then seek to invite exceptional writers from the short list of submissions to join The Walt Disney Studios’ Feature Writers Program, a one-year residency program housed in Disney’s live-action production group that provides up-and-coming feature writers with development and mentorship opportunities.

“We are overjoyed for Nicole at Disney’s selection of her for their Feature Writers Program, very excited to continue our relationship with the studio, and elated that another writer may have the same opportunity next Spring,” said The Black List founder and CEO Franklin Leonard.