Fox Networks Group

fox-writers-lab-diversity-hollywood-class

Photo by Saman Assefi Photography

For the sixth consecutive year, Fox has sought out some of Hollywood’s most exciting new voices to participate in the Fox Writers Lab, a fellowship program hosted by Fox Inclusion for young screenwriters with diverse perspectives, backgrounds and life experiences. The 13 finalists will work directly with Fox’s writers, directors, executives and more to hone their craft on the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles, with opportunities for staffing on the company’s film, television and digital productions. The Fox Writers Lab is one of several programs at 21st Century Fox designed to support the next generation of storytellers and create a pipeline of diverse talent into the industry.

"There's a deep well of untapped talent that deserves to be discovered, developed and empowered to tell their stories,” said Suzanna Makkos, head of comedy at the FOX network. “Fox Writers Lab is a great tool to open the door and create meaningful opportunities for these future writers, producers and creators, and I'm looking forward to working with the members of this year's class."

The finalists will spend 14 weeks on the Fox Lot, shadowing the company’s creatives, receiving feedback on their scripts, attending master classes with experienced writers and directors, and hearing from some of the industry’s most experienced figures through guest speaker sessions.

“Having been closely involved with Fox Writers Lab, it has been wonderful to see the impact its participants have made on a number of our dramas,” said Terence Carter, FOX’s head of drama. “While learning from the best auspices in the business, they bring new and fresh ideas to the writing room and bolster a creative process that thrives on diverse perspectives.”

The program has also partnered for a second year with the Young Storytellers, a nonprofit co-founded by Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk that is dedicated to helping young people discover the power of their own voices. The finalists will mentor elementary school students who are participating in the organization’s Script to Stage program, in which students write their own original short script, then see it performed live by professional actors.

At the conclusion of the program, one fellow will be named the 2017 Fox Writers Lab Fellow and awarded a purchase and development deal on his/her original script or a first-look deal with Fox network or any of its affiliated entities. All of this year’s finalists will receive staffing meetings for current Fox series and a first-look agreement to option their scripts. Participants from previous years have gone on to write for Fox shows such as Lucifer and Star.

“Lee Daniels and I wanted the Star writers' room to be as inclusive as possible,” said Tom Donaghy, co-creator and executive producer of Star. “We also wanted to find strong female voices who could write honestly for our young characters. When Jamila Daniel came to us through the Fox Writers Lab, we knew immediately how much she would bring to the project… We were lucky the Lab was there when we were hiring, and doubly lucky to hire Jamila.”

The Fox Writers Lab was initially launched in 2011 as the Fox Writers Intensive, and since then, it has become one of a growing slate of programs at 21CF that empower new voices in Hollywood. The Fox Filmmaker Lab, a partnership with the American Film Institute, is a mentoring program designed to increase the number of female directors working in the industry and recently announced its first class of 25 participants. In addition, the Fox Directors Lab last fall announced 16 Fellows to participate in its Comedy and Drama Apprenticeship Programs. Fox Inclusion is a department at Fox designed to identify programming and operational opportunities that reflect diverse perspectives across all of its entertainment platforms.

Learn more about 21CF’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, which include fellowship opportunities, filmmaking contests, professional training and more. 


Ghetto Film School, Industry 101 Pitch Day

Last month, longtime 21st Century Fox partner Ghetto Film School took its students to Fox Studios to pitch their ideas for short clips promoting FOX’s hot new show, Star. The students’ pitch presentations were part of GFS’ Industry 101 project, a semester-long class where high school students learn to create short video promos for a real client. The project gives them first-hand experience with the business behind film and television, teaches them the art of incorporating traditional storytelling strategies into 30-second promos, and helps them understand the process of working with clients.

Students prepared for their pitches by meeting with FOX’s on-air promotions team, and reviewing FOX’s research on their key audiences and marketing strategy for Star, a musical drama revolving around three talented young singers navigating the music business while trying to achieve their dreams. After developing their promo ideas, GFS students used the lessons learned from other GFS coursework and practiced presenting their pitches to each other in an engaging, concise manner. “Our students are very diligent about content brevity and accuracy, about formulating engaging hooks and demonstrating their visual vocabulary. They practice over and over again in front of their peers to make sure they’re pulling the audience into the emotional center of their pitch,” says Montea Robinson, LA Program Director and graduate of GFS’s program in the South Bronx.

On “Pitch Day”, students pitched their ideas for 30-second Star promos to a team from FOX—Scott Edwards, SVP of On-Air Promotions & Operations, Aaron Goldman, VP of Drama On-Air, Mamie Coleman, VP of Music and Production, and Karen McAllister, Director of On-Air Promos. Every student received in-depth feedback from the FOX team, giving them insight into both narrative storytelling and marketing techniques that will help strengthen their final products. Students are currently in production and will head back to the Fox lot later this spring for editing and revisions before final feedback.

Says GFS LA student Rosibel, age 16, “Prepping my pitch was nerve wracking! Although I had pitched before, I knew that getting feedback from FOX executives was an opportunity that many aspiring film-makers would love to have, so I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity and give my best shot. I bounced different ideas off friends and practiced my pitch with them and took note of what seemed to land best with them."

The program offers a substantial insight into what future careers in film and television could look like, and inspires students to continue working towards their goals. With many students coming from communities underrepresented in Hollywood, GFS helps them nurture their creativity, build skills in collaborative work and public speaking, and develop a framework for understanding themselves and the world around them.

“The coolest thing was getting to stand in a room full of FOX executives and talk to them about my ideas and hearing what they had to say in return, and getting to see the Fox lot! That's somewhere that a lot of us Ghetto Film School students, including myself, want to be one day and getting the opportunity to be there and see where it all happens was amazing,” said Rosibel.

 


naacp image awards taraji henson janelle monae octavia spencer

21st Century Fox businesses took home a collective 11 trophies from the 48th NAACP Image Awards on February 11, scoring wins for acting and directing on film and television projects such as Empire, Atlanta, The People v. O.J. Simpson, This Is Us, and Hidden Figures. The ceremony, which celebrates the accomplishments of people of color across the media landscape, was broadcast live on TV One and was hosted by Anthony Anderson.

A complete list of 21CF businesses wins is as follows:

  • Outstanding Motion Picture – Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture – Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures
  • Outstanding Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special – The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
  • Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series – John Singleton, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  • Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special – Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  • Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series – Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (20th Century Fox Television)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series – Taraji P. Henson, Empire (FOX)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Jussie Smollett, Empire
  • Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series – Donald Glover, Atlanta (FX)
  • Outstanding Song (Traditional) – Kim Burrell and Pharrell Williams, “I See a Victory,” Hidden Figures soundtrack
  • Outstanding Literary Work (Nonfiction) – Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures

“There are roles you accept that scare you. And this one did because I failed math,” Henson said during her acceptance speech for her role as Katherine G. Johnson in Hidden Figures. “I made it my mission to do this film. This film was very important. It was bigger than me.”

Both Hidden Figures and The People v. O.J. Simpson were the focus of recent social impact campaigns. Hidden Figures has become a rallying cry for diversity in STEM, screening at the White House in December and serving as the basis for the Search for Hidden Figures scholarship contest last fall. 21CF also partnered with the LA Promise Fund to screen the film for nearly 10,000 young women in LA middle and high schools. Last year, the company took The People v. O.J. Simpson on a screening tour of HBCU campuses around the country.

21CF received 34 total nominations, including nods for FOX’s Lethal Weapon and Pitch, National Geographic’s StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson, 20th Century Fox Television’s Fresh Off the Boat and The Carmichael Show, and Fox Searchlight’s The Birth of a Nation.

"The Image Awards is the premier showcase for art and advocacy reflecting the depth and diversity of the African-American experience," said Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO, NAACP. "It is an American prism through which we see a breadth of culture and color reflected in film, television, music, and literature in ways that reveal our shared humanity. At a moment when America is so divided, the Image Awards represents an hour that brings us together.”

Learn more about this year’s NAACP Awards, and view the full list of winners.


Fox Sports Supports PSA photoshoot with National Association on Mental Illness nominated for Cynopsis Social Good Award

FOX Sports, National Geographic and the Fox Business Network have garnered a total of ten nominations for the third annual Cynopsis Social Good Awards, a ceremony celebrating the media industry’s leading social responsibility initiatives. The nominations represent the breadth of social issues on which 21st Century Fox businesses engage their audiences, from National Geographic’s on-air campaigns to preserve America’s National Parks to FOX Sports Supports’ efforts to help military veterans transition to civilian life. The winners will be announced at a breakfast in New York City on March 2.

The nominations for 21CF businesses include the following:

  • Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Environmental/Weather: National Geographic Channel for Before the Flood
  • Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Environmental/Weather: National Geographic Channel for National Geographic
  • Best Overall Marketing: National Geographic & American Express for “Partners in Preservation: National Parks”
  • Best Spot (Over 30 Seconds): FOX Sports for “Rebuild” MVP & FOX Sports Supports
  • Environmental Campaign or Initiative: National Geographic for Before the Flood
  • Environmental Campaign or Initiative: National Geographic & Subaru of America for “Find Your Park, Love Your Park”
  • Nonprofit/Corporate Partnership: National Geographic & DAVIDOFF Cool Water for “Love the Ocean”
  • Public Service Announcement: FOX Sports for “Stigma Free” from FOX Sports Supports and the National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Best Episode with a Social Good Theme: The Centsables (Fox Business Network) for “The Centsinnati 500”
  • Social Good Shining Stars: FOX Sports Supports

FOX Sports Supports won the “Social Good Shining Sports Star” category at last year’s ceremony, the top honor for overall charitable sports program. The initiative has contributed millions of dollars to more than 40 charities through on-air engagement such as PSAs, in-game reads and on-screen graphics across FOX’s sports properties. Its current partnerships with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and more were chosen by a vote of FOX Sports employees in December 2015.

“The partnership with FOX Sports is of tremendous value in the Stigma Free movement and amplifies NAMI’s efforts at helping build better lives and promote a thriving American community,” said Katrina Gay, NAMI’s National Director of Communications and Public Affairs.

The National Geographic campaigns nominated each utilize the breadth of the organization’s resources to reach diverse audiences. The “Find Your Park, Love Your Park” campaign from National Geographic and Subaru of America, for example, is geared toward teaching fourth graders across the United States about the importance of U.S. national parks by driving viewers toward a host of educational resources available at National Geographic’s website. In addition, “Partners in Preservation: National Parks” awarded $2 million in grants in 2016 to historic sites in need of preservation within national parks, as decided by popular vote on the campaign website.

“We love to give our readers an opportunity to engage with their passion for parks and ‘Partners in Preservation: National Parks’ is an ideal way to activate our very engaged community and empower them to participate,” said Susan Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief, National Geographic.

Learn more about the Cynopsis Social Good awards, and view the full list of this year’s nominees.


Pitch, FOX

On February 1, 21st Century Fox joins partner Women’s Sports Foundation and supporters around the United States in celebrating the 31st annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day.

Founded in 1974 by tennis icon Billie Jean King, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) works directly with local schools and leagues to help girls pursue their athletic passions. WSF has developed a comprehensive sports education curriculum, trains coaches and teachers, and helps rising female athletes with the costs of competition fees and travel. In 1987, WSF joined a coalition of organizations to celebrate the first National Girls & Women in Sports Day, and has been active in advocating for the progress of Title IX while expanding athletic opportunities for girls and women everywhere.

FOX Sports, a division of 21st Century Fox, has supported the Women's Sports Foundation since 2014, partnering with other sports networks to contribute a collective $2 million to the foundation's work. In September 2016, 21CF announced a new initiative to support the foundation’s ‘Sports 4 life’ program in honor of FOX’s new series, Pitch, which chronicles a fictional story of the first female major league baseball player. The partnership between 21CF and Sports 4 Life will help local communities break down barriers and encourage participation of African-American and Hispanic girls in youth sports programs.

FOX Sports also supports several initiatives throughout 2017, including Girls on the Run, a nonprofit committed to teaching young girls life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons that creatively integrate running.

YUWA Girls Football Team

STAR Sports, a 21st Century Fox division based in India, is also committed to expanding access to sports, and in 2014, organized a campaign to raise money for the YUWA young women’s soccer team. YUWA is a nonprofit working against female illiteracy, child marriage, and trafficking in the poorest parts of India—through education and extracurricular activities, the organization offers many girls and young women an alternative future of skills and empowerment. STAR Sports’ campaign for YUWA resulted in enough funds to cover the team’s entry fee and travel for the USA Cup, a goal these young women had been dreaming of ever since they got in the game.

Women's Sports Foundation from 21CF Impact on Vimeo.