Twentieth Century Fox Television

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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. 


Creators and cast of Shots Fired, New York screening

In advance of the upcoming TV premiere of Shots Fired on March 22, FOX has organized a screening series followed by conversations between the producers, cast, and various community leaders, activists, and members of law enforcement across the country. Shots Fired is a new 10-part series that takes an explosive look at the American criminal justice system through the prism of two racially charged shootings in a small North Carolina town.

Created by Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood, the show begins with an African-American police deputy (played by Mack Wilds) shooting an unarmed white teenager. Before the police department and community has time to process through the aftermath, a Department of Justice-assigned prosecutor and investigator (played by Stephan James and Sanaa Lathan, respectively) unearth another tragic shooting in the town, of an unarmed black teen, followed by an onslaught of twists and turns that threaten to tear apart their case and the community.  The show also stars Academy Award-winners Helen Hunt as the North Carolina governor and Richard Dreyfuss as the wealthy owner of a private prison, as well as Stephen Moyer as Lieutenant Breeland and Jill Henessy and DeWanda Wise as the mothers of two slain teenagers. By skillfully navigating social unrest, media attention, and political debate, Shots Fired untangles and exposes the complexities of race relations in America today. 

Following a screening at New York City’s Paley Center for Media on Thursday, March 9, the cast and creators participated in a moderated discussion about racial tension in America and filming the show in the middle of ongoing violence and tragedy in the country. “Dealing with two different murders allowed us to really get into how victims of violence are treated differently based on race,” said Prince-Bythewood, who also talked about their aim to inspire empathy by creating a show where every character demonstrates layers of complex humanity, rather than being painted as a villain or hero. Dreyfuss added, “This is the most current thing you’ll ever see. This is as current as tomorrow’s news…hopefully this show will start the national conversation that’s so overdue, that we’re still not being honest about.”

The screening series is taking place in 10 cities across the U.S., and each of the screenings is followed by a moderated panel discussion with the cast, creators, and community leaders, including Tony Dixon, president of the DC chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and Kathy Chaney, managing editor of Ebony magazine in Chicago.  

“I want people to have fun watching it—it’s fun to watch, but it’s also horrible. I hope that people cry, I hope they get mad, and I hope they have discussions and debates and that ultimately, some empathy is created—that people step out of the comfort zone they’re used to thinking within,” concluded Lathan at the New York screening.

Watch the trailer for Shots Fired, which premieres on FOX on Wednesday, March 22 at 8pm ET.


humanitas prize hidden figures birth nation this is us

At a ceremony in Los Angeles on February 22, the organization Humanitas announced the recipients of its 42nd Annual Humanitas Prize, recognizing the screenwriters behind two films and one television series from 21st Century Fox. Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder, who wrote Fox 2000’s Hidden Figures, tied with Robert Schenkkan of Hacksaw Ridge to win the Feature Film category, while Nate Parker and Dan Fogelman were honored for writing Fox Searchlight’s The Birth of a Nation and the 20th Century Fox Television production This Is Us, respectively. The Humanitas Prize celebrates onscreen stories that reflect a dedication to social progress and inspire compassion, hope and understanding.

“These were truly the best of the best, writers whose work engaged, illuminated, inspired and entertained, all while exploring the range of human experience from fresh and diverse perspectives,” said Humanitas executive director Cathleen Young. “Stories that inspire, engage and bring together are more important than ever in a world fractured along political and culture fault lines.”

The Humanitas Prize includes an award of $10,000 to each of the winners, many of whom announced their plans to donate the winnings to a nonprofit. Fogelman will donate his cash prize to the Motion Picture Television Fund, which provides health care services to those in the entertainment community. Parker will make his contribution to Together We Rise, which supports foster child programs across the United States.

“I write for my children,” Parker said during his acceptance speech. “As I write, I always ask myself, ‘What do I owe them?’ …This moment doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the little kids.”

Hidden Figures continues to serve as the center of social impact campaigns encouraging young women and people of color to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and math. The film was the basis for the Search for Hidden Figures scholarship contest last fall, and 21CF recently partnered with AMC Theatres to host free screenings of the film in order to celebrate Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, as well as build broader awareness of the film’s true story and inspire younger generations to follow their dreams.

Learn more about the 2017 Humanitas Prize, including the full list of this year’s winners.


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.


Fresh Off The Boat

20th Century Fox Television’s hit series Fresh Off The Boat has partnered with Six-Word Memoirs on a new crowd-sourced book: Six Words Fresh Off The Boat: Stories of Immigration, Identity, and Coming to America (September 2017). This newest compilation in the bestselling series will feature the personal, complex, and profound emotions that generations of immigrants have felt as they built new lives in America.

“Fresh off the Boat reflects and celebrates the immigrant experiences of millions of people across generations. With this crowd-sourced book elevating voices from all across America, we hope to inspire anyone who identifies with the subject matter directly or through the lives of past generations to share their story in six words,” said Steven Melnick, Head of Marketing at 20th Century Fox Television. His six-worder: “Grandma's Sunday greeting: gotenyu zisa boychickel,” which translates from Yiddish to “Dear God, what a sweet boy.” Other examples

Carried few possessions and many dreams.

Sister pretends she can't use chopsticks.

Feuding with three family members? Persian.

Fresh Off the Boat, now in its third season on ABC, is loosely based on the memoir of entrepreneur and restaurateur Eddie Huang. The show follows a Taiwanese-American family as they adjust to a new life in 1990’s suburban Florida. The Six-Word Memoir Project was started by Larry Smith in 2006 when his tweet, “Can you describe your life in six words?” went viral around the world.

Fans can submit their own immigrant stories at sixwordmemoirs.com/FOTB through February 15 to be considered for publication in the book.