Candidate for Council, Film/TV/Streaming Sector
I’m Ian Olympio and I’m honored to be nominated for WGAE Council. I’m currently a Co-Executive Producer on the Starz drama P-VALLEY, but my writing career began in 2017 with the WGAE’s Made In New York Writers’ Room fellowship. After a few years of grinding away in New York City, from the CAA mailroom to a variety of soul-crushing survival jobs, I landed a spot in the inaugural class of the Guild’s diversity program.
The fellowship provided me with a Showrunner mentor (shout out to Michael Rauch!), six months of programmatic education, and the platform I needed to land my first job in television. I began as the Showrunner’s Assistant to Katori Hall on her new series P-VALLEY in late 2017, served as a Producer during Season 2, and got the bump to Co-EP on Season 3. I say this all not only to introduce myself—hello!— but to also share how support from dedicated institutions and individuals has shaped my journey throughout this industry.
Since joining the guild in 2021, I’ve worked to pay forward all of the kindness and guidance I’ve received. Last summer, I launched and operated the WGI Support Staff Training Program to create a pipeline for diverse folks on the East Coast into writers’ rooms, with support from Lisa Takeuchi Cullen and Jenna Bond. We narrowed down a pool of hundreds to twenty trainees on two separate tracks–Writer’s Assistants and Script Coordinators–and provided hands-on training from current and former support staff over a month of weekend courses. The program was a huge labor of love that only succeeded because of an overwhelming desire from all levels of writers to create an opportunity they wished was available to them at the start of their careers. One year and one strike later, I can happily announce that five trainees have landed their first jobs in film and television. In addition to this program, I have helped the WGAE successfully lobby politicians in Albany to expand the New York tax credit, joined the Committee for Inclusion and Equity, and served as a Strike Captain.
A seat on the WGAE Council would provide a greater platform from which I could continue to uplift the diverse and emerging writers who represent the future of our industry. A future I have to believe is bright, if only for the fact that I am 35 years from being eligible for retirement. I came of age during the “golden age of television,” and entered the industry at a moment of existential change. To be frank, I’ve never known peace while working in film and television—from the battle over packaging and the global pandemic, to the great streaming correction, and finally our current strike. I have the deepest love for film and television and the highest reverence for all that has been built by those who have come before me. I believe we can take all the best parts of this century-old business and bring them into the streaming era and beyond. So, for my platform!
Pipelines and Programs: Building off the success of the WGI SSTP, I will champion new initiatives to help writers at every level gain training and support to advance into the next phase of their careers. I intend to prime writers at the Staff Writer level for success in their first rooms and prep mid-level writers for the challenges of on-set producing. I’ve found that education and mentorship are important tools for circumventing the issue of “experience” so many writers face—especially those belonging to diverse communities— as they move up the staffing ladder.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion: As a Black, queer writer, I understand how difficult it can be for diverse writers to get a foothold and gain momentum in this business. Dating back to my days as the assistant to Chief Diversity Officer of CAA, I’ve seen what a tremendous effort it takes from all sides of the industry to create meaningful change but I know it’s possible! I plan to bolster and expand current guild initiatives, develop new programs, work with the studios, and create more opportunities for diverse writers to connect, commiserate, and coordinate. Out of this increased community building will grow greater protections and support for our Guild’s most vulnerable.
More Opportunities in New York: The recent expansion of the New York Tax Credit was a hard-fought win, but it is just as vulnerable to the whims of the political machine as any other facet of American life. It is a priority of mine to protect and expand the tax credit, creating more New York writers’ rooms and incentivizing studios for diverse hiring.
While I certainly don’t have all the answers—though, I do have an uncanny habit of being right—YOU, the members of the WGAE, do! As a member of the Council, I would dedicate myself to listening to your ideas and concerns, working tirelessly to funnel them into action items, initiatives, and programs.
I am proud to be endorsed by Jenna Bond, Jaquen Castellanos, Matthew Ross Fennell, Katori Hall, Tian Jun Gu, Cameron Johnson, Ira Madison III, Michael Rauch, Celine Robinson, and Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.