The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), along with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) has announced the second cohort of the Made in NY Writers Room. The class includes playwright Harron Atkins, showrunner’s assistant Yasmine Cadet, writer’s production assistant Joey Capuana, writer and storyboard artist Michael Lee, writer Catherine Loerke, comedy promo writer Vinny Lopez, comedian Jordan Mendoza, playwright and librettist Jerome A. Parker, children’s television writer Michael Rodriguez and entertainment journalist and Guild member Pilot Viruet.
The six-month television writing fellowship that provides mentorship, industry access and financial support to underrepresented writers who reside in New York City and seek to tell stories that are not often depicted on television. Each Made in NY Writers Room fellow will be mentored by an experienced showrunner and have access to educational and professional development programs. With the help of a mentor, each fellow will build a portfolio of at least two sample scripts.
This year’s mentors include Robert Carlock (UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT), Melissa James Gibson (HOUSE OF CARDS), Soo Hugh (THE TERROR), Thomas Kelly (THE PURGE), Frank Pugliese (HOUSE OF CARDS), Michael Rauch (INSTINCT), Tom Scharpling (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS), Brennan Shroff (THE DETOUR), Matt Williams (HOME IMPROVEMENT) and Stu Zicherman (SWEETBITTER).
Meet the 2019 Fellows
Harron Atkins is a New York City based writer/actor who graduated from Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama. His work has been produced at Dixon Place, The Tank Theatre, The People’s Improve Theatre, Two Headed Rep, and Ensemble Studio Theatre. Harron is a member of EST’s acclaimed playwrights group, Youngblood and also writes for CNT Production’s comedy web series, Not Your Type. Harron is overjoyed to be a fellow in this year’s Made in NY Writer’s Room and deeply appreciates this next step in his goal to entertain, uplift, heal, and inspire change in the world through art.
|Yasmine Cadet is a first-generation Haitian American writer and brunch fan who calls Harlem home. Through her work, she challenges the strong black woman stereotype, while exploring Black girlhood; and the delicate balancing act women of color play between meeting societal expectations and their own. She received her BA in Communication and Media Studies and MA in Screen Arts and Culture at Fordham University. Before pursuing her dream of writing, she explored careers in retail management, charter school operations, and pharmaceutical advertising. In 2017, Yasmine earned her MFA in Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch School of The Arts. She is a recipient of the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing Department Scholarship, the Dalio Family Foundation Scholarship, and a Richie Jackson Artist Fellowship.|
|Joey Capuana is a queer screenwriter whose genre-spanning work explores themes of desire and identity, often infusing modern society with fantasy to provocative and comedic effect. While studying Film and Television at Northwestern University, Joey produced numerous award-winning short films and independent pilots before graduating summa cum laude. Formerly employed as a production assistant on Netflix’s NARCOS and F IS FOR FAMILY, Joey now works in business operations for tech giant Google while vigorously writing under the tutelage of excellent teachers like Alan Kingsberg. His pilot samples include comedies GOD OF WINE, which follows the debaucherous god Bacchus as he attempts to improve the life of his prudish mortal daughter, and SIDEKICK, centered on a personal assistant at a corporate superhero agency who attempts to secretly fight crime on her own time. He is presently writing a dramedy pilot HOLE, about on a closeted business consultant whose fate becomes tied to a struggling and eccentric NYC queer bar, and the “genre” drama HEX, which tells the story a broken-hearted drag queen with supernatural abilities who searches for a lost lover amidst a string of mysterious murders. Outside of writing, Joey loves to run, drink wine, and read LGBTQ history.|
|Michael Lee is a kind but tenacious storyteller based in New York City. After studying art at Yale, he worked as an animator for MTV, Nickelodeon, and SYFY, before pivoting to screenwriting. In 2013, he won Grand Prize in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency’s Column Contest by writing semi-fictional satire about life as an Apple Genius. His TV pilot Trolling was a finalist in the 2016 New York Screenplay Contest, his TV pilot The Natives was a semi-finalist in the 2017 WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Contest, his play BAEv2.0 was a quarter-finalist in the 2018 Screencraft Stage Play Contest, and his TV pilot PRNX was a semi-finalist in the 2018 WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Contest. He is forever grateful to UCLA online, his writers group, and the insanely vibrant New York theater scene. Four years ago, he founded the Hot Prospects, a book club for tv pilots. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.|
|Rhode Island-raised, Brooklyn-based writer/filmmaker Catherine Loerke writes stories that delve into the female experience, especially over 40, and reimagine the oft-stereotyping genres of sci-fi/fantasy and romantic comedy through a female lens. As a 2019 Made in NY Writers Room Fellow, Cat—who trained as a physician—is developing her dramedy pilot IN VITRO VERITAS, about a hard-charging fertility doc forced to take her emotions out of cold storage when she undergoes an experimental IVF protocol herself. She wrote and directed two shorts exploring motherhood and identity, REBIRTH and SAND MAMA, the latter of which is a 2019 Made In NY Women’s Film, TV, and Theatre Fund Award Recipient. Cat is the writer/showrunner of GEEKAWAY CAMP, a nerd rom-com web series pilot in post-production. She wrote four other shorts directed by women—including TONSURE, voted second prize at the monthly Roxy Underground Film Festival curated by indie pioneer Amos Poe—and two short plays produced, directed, and performed by people identifying as women for NYC-based Amios theatre collective. Cat currently works on the promotion of inclusion and diversity in the workplace and is a graduate of Stanford, Yale School of Medicine, and in 2019, Brooklyn College Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema.|
|Vinny Lopez is a writer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, and currently works as a Creative Director at Comedy Central while strangling his free time with his own projects. He was a two-time Sundance Screenwriters Lab finalist with his scripts City and La Puta, his short story Biography was published in the literary journal Unstuck, his pilot script The Great Leader was a semi-finalist at the Austin Film Festival, and his comedy pilot Out of Fashion was picked up by Propagate Content and pitched to the heads of development at Apple, Amazon, Lifetime, E! and Bravo. He also created a digital series about nine semi-sane gay brothers entitled Two Jasperjohns, which was featured in Vulture, Splitsider, and the New York TV Festival, and is currently making an ongoing animated Instagram series entitled Sam and Al and the World—when his reminders app isn’t nagging him to find an agent for his debut novel I Am a City, a sometimes hilarous, often harrowing tale of San Francisco, southern girls and mind control.|
|Jordan Mendoza is an Asian-American writer, comedian, and filmmaker from Boston. He works in NYC at Comedy Central’s Creators Program where he writes, stars, and produces his original short-form series Apologies—in which each episode he plays a villain YouTuber apologizing for a previous video he had to delete. He recently was selected for the Made in NY Writers Room for his half-hour pilot Tidying, a dramedy about a Marie Condo-esque organizational consultant who—suffering from an illness that makes her believe objects have feelings—falls in love with a client and his lamp. He co-hosts Art School at Union Hall and Drunk Science at Littlefield (ft. The New York Times, Vulture, Gothamist, truTV Comedy Breakout Initiative). Time Out named him a “Rising New York comedian primed to break big.” Recently he appeared as a guest on Radiolab, was retweeted by the Rock, and became active on TikTok, a social media platform for teenagers.|
|Jerome A. Parker is a Brooklyn based playwright, screenwriter, librettist and lyricist born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx. Plays and musicals include: DIG (Fire this Time Festival); BALLAD OF SAD YOUNG MEN (Company of Angels, Downtown Urban Theater Festival); MIRACLE ON MONROE (Kennedy Center, Public Theater); STAG (SUNY – New Paltz); QUERELLE (The Lark Roundtable); LIKE JOHNNY IN THE DARK (Dramatist Guild, National Black Theatre); HOUSE OF DINAH (On the Boards, National Black Theatre); FREIDA (Intiman Theater, MacDowell Colony, Dramatist Guild, New York Stage and Film, National Black Theatre). Recently he was commissioned as a screenwriter for a musical by the New York Film Academy: KAYA: TASTE OF PARADISE. And upcoming musical projects include a collaboration with NY’s Experiments in Opera. Alumnus of Williams College (BA), The Juilliard School (Production), UCLA – School of Television, Film and Theater (MFA), Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, American Lyric Theatre Librettist Development Program, Dramatist Guild Fellows Program, MacDowell Colony Fellowship, New York Stage and Film / Guild Playwright Fellow and Freedom Train Productions.|
|Michael Rodriguez is a Dominican American writer living in Manhattan. He is a working children’s TV writer who’s written for CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG and created the series THE GNOME BROS (2019) for Sesame Studios. In 2018, he was awarded the Sesame Street Writers Room fellowship for writers in children’s media. Michael is also a librettist at the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop and a UCB-trained comedy writer with work published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Thought Catalog, Funny Or Die and more. He graduated from Columbia University in 2016, where he founded the digital sketch comedy network, CUSS, a team of 40+ creators who collaborate on weekly digital sketches. A lover of comedia alta, Michael writes sketches with his team MELLOWDRAMATIC and loves finding the empowering humor in dark situations. He is interested in stories of displacement, belonging, and radical empathy that can show queer people of color thriving in the face of adversity. His comedy pilot CAMP BRAVE follows a group of queer teens at Wisconsin’s first summer camp for LGBTQ youth.|
|Pilot Viruet is a writer and editor living in Queens, New York. After receiving an MFA in Television Writing and Producing from Long Island University, Pilot combined their love of writing and television to become Flavorwire’s Television Critic and, later, VICE’s Culture Editor. Currently a freelance culture journalist, Pilot’s work—which regularly focuses on representation and inclusion within the entertainment industry—has appeared in a number of publications including The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Vulture, TV Guide, The Atlantic, and more. They are also a fellow in the Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room. Pilot’s goal is to create television for and about queer and trans people of color.|