Two development deals are up for grabs as part of Sesame Street Writers’ Room, a brand-new fellowship program from Sesame Workshop that will begin taking submissions on March 1.
The six-week program, which is dedicated to discovering, nurturing and boosting the presence of writers with diverse voices in children’s media, is open to scribes who are over 21 and who have not written for network or cable series exceeding 13 episodes.
“Since its inception, Sesame Street has represented the diversity of our world through our inclusive cast and rich variety of stories,” says Brown Johnson, Sesame Workshop’s EVP and creative director. “Studies show that kids engage and learn more fully when they see themselves reflected onscreen, and having a diverse writing team is an important part of the process.”
Applicants will have until March 31 to submit an 11-minute script based on a yet-to-determined specific assignment.
Every submission will then be evaluated by a group of industry executives, who will determine approximately seven to 10 finalists.
The program itself will run throughout June and into early July this summer at Sesame Workshop’s New York City office.
Finalists will have weekly meetings with industry writers, producers, agents and executives (both Sesame and non-Sesame), and are expected to complete at least one script.
The two finalists whose scripts show the most promise will be offered creative development deals and mentorship from Sesame Workshop execs.
“To my knowledge, Sesame hasn’t offered a writing fellowship like this before with two development deals on the table, so it’s a new initiative for us,” says Kay Wilson Stallings, SVP of creative development for Sesame Workshop.
“It gives us an opportunity to identify and nurture new writing talent that could potentially be used for Sesame Street, but also for new original IP, whether it’s short form for Sesame Studios, or long form for any of our other distribution partners.”
Wilson Stallings adds that Sesame Workshop has been in active development over the last 18 months looking for the next generation of creators.
“It’s something that we haven’t done for quite some time,” she says. “During the program, we’ll be talking about premises, story ideas, log lines, developing and finding a character’s voice, story structure and arc and adding or building out a curriculum. Once we have the top two scripts, we’ll bring in professional actors to stage read-throughs of excerpts from the scripts.”
A gala reception will conclude the program featuring Sesame Street execs and other children’s professionals from the web, gaming and publishing world.