The inaugural Television Screenwriting Lab for Black Muslim Writers — created to open a pathway for writers who have not been represented in television — wrapped this week. The lab was led by The Blackhouse Foundation, which works to expand opportunities for Black content creators, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Hollywood Bureau, which strives to bring authentic, nuanced, and inclusive presentations of Muslims on screen.
Industry instructors Qasim Basir, DMA, Hanelle Culpepper and Fanshen Cox worked with the eight screenwriters to embrace their unique voices and experiences, hone their craft, refine their pitches and prepare them for careers in the industry. The sessions were held on Smashcut, a platform for online film education.
The scripts and writers were chosen from a competitive pool of submissions. The need for these voices was recognized by Participant, the leading media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires audiences to engage in positive social change. The project culminated this week with the screenwriters presenting their projects and personal stories to Participant television executives.
“Participant has been the industry standard when it comes to social impact entertainment and we are so grateful for their generous sponsorship and valuable input with the Television Screenwriting Lab for Muslim Writers,” said Sue Obeidi, Director of MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau. “The interaction between the eight talented writers we chose for the lab and the industry leaders at Participant creates incredible benefit and inspiration on both sides. Working with Brickson Diamond and The Blackhouse Foundation team continues to be a blessing.”
“This was an incredible opportunity to build community, elevate stories and empower a powerful group of creators on the rise,” Blackhouse Board Chair Brickson Diamond added.
Daniel Blackman, Founder & CEO of Smashcut, said, “Smashcut is thrilled to help support and expand creative opportunities for these talented writers. We built Smashcut to make online film education more accessible by connecting emerging creators with experienced industry mentors. We look forward to watching their careers grow and seeing their stories come to life.”
Below are the screenwriters who completed the Television Screenwriting Lab for Muslim Writers:
DIASPORA – Maram Ahmed
Four Muslim women navigate adulthood as they try to figure out love, their careers, and this thing called life.
HOUSE CALL – Aiman Mimiko
When a young Nigerian doctor’s immigration papers are lost in the system, he’s forced to go under the table to make ends meet.
ISLAMIC SPEED DATING – Thembisa S. Mshaka
After her husband’s wanton betrayal and a bitter divorce, Karimah Hassan, a Black American Muslim woman, has to laugh to keep from crying—until two men are vying for her hand.
LAYLA AND THE STARSHIP AFROTOPIA – Sekinat Jumai Yusuf
A wormhole whisks this shy Black Muslim girl away from her small town to AFROTOPIA, a spaceship searching for a home planet.
NAILA – Nadra Widatalla
A Black Muslim video game designer by day, and prison Abolitionist by night, needs to quickly decide what side of Capitalism she really sits on.
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS – Maria Warith-Wade
Stumbling onto Wall Street, this Black junior banker struggles to earn her spot among the financial elite.
SINCERELY, NISSA – Malikah A. Shabazz
A complacent producer maneuvers through her professional and social world by using Twitter to say how she feels anonymously…for now.
WHISPERS – Desha Dauchan
When a rising star attorney reluctantly takes on a mysterious case pro-bono, her client’s “insane” claims trigger her deep suppressed clairvoyance. Will her growing obsession with making sense of it all be her undoing?