Employee engagement

Fox Writers Lab 2018

21CF Global Inclusion has selected eight participants in the seventh annual Fox Writers Lab, a highly selective program for emerging TV writers with diverse backgrounds and life experiences. The writers will participate in a four-month intensive on the Fox Studio Lot in Los Angeles that focuses on developing original material, honing skills, and exploring the media and entertainment business. The program creates a strong pipeline of well-rounded talent for staffing on Fox television shows and contributes to increasing the diversity of viewpoints and ideas in the film and TV industry as a whole.

Over the course of the program, the writers will take part in a rigorous intensive on writing for television. They will receive guidance on their scripts through master classes, and will receive group career coaching and individual mentorship from creative executives at FOX Broadcasting Company, Fox 21, FX, and 20th Century Fox Television. Experienced writers, showrunners, and directors will serve as guest speakers.

Beyond helping the participants hone their craft and learn the business, the Fox Writers Lab also provides extensive resources for script development and job placement. All participants are eligible to receive priority staffing meetings for the established Fox Writers Lab Staff Writer position on Fox television shows. In addition, one writer will be named the 2018 Fox Writers Lab Fellow and will receive a development deal on his/her script. The Fellow will also receive one-on-one creative meetings with network and other Fox entertainment current and development executives.

In the seven years since its initial launch, the Fox Writers Lab has produced several notable alumni, including: Lena Waithe, Emmy-winning writer of Master of None and creator, executive producer and writer of The Chi; Ed Gonzalez, co-writer of feature film All Eyes on Me; Cindy Fang, staff writer on Rush Hour and Fresh Off the Boat; JaSheika James and JaNeika James, executive story editors on Empire; and Ester Lou Weithers, staff writer on Star and Pitch.

The Fox Writers Lab is one of many programs at 21CF that nurtures diverse voices and stories, both in front of and behind the camera. Last year, the company launched the inaugural Fox Filmmakers Lab, an initiative designed to help increase the number of female directors working in the entertainment industry. The Fox Television Directors Lab will announce its 2018 class of fellows later this year. 21CF Global Inclusion is focused on seeking and broadening diversity and inclusion efforts, talent, and perspectives throughout the organization.

Learn more about each of the eight participants in this year’s Fox Writers Lab by reading their bios below:

Anthony Florez is a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and was raised in Reno, Nevada. Inspired by the service of his father, uncles, and grandfathers, he became a third generation serviceman when he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2008. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant and departed the U.S. Navy in pursuit of his creative passions. Anthony most recently participated in the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project.

Felicia Hilario is a Mexican American screenwriter with roots in East LA. She is a graduate of both UCLA’s Professional Screenwriting Program and most recently USC’s MFA in Screenwriting Program. During her time at USC she received the Mary Pickford Scholarship, the Lionsgate-Televisa Scholarship, and the Grillo-Marxuach Family Fellowship. She currently is a Writers’ PA on GREY'S ANATOMY.

Milton Liu is a founding partner of Kulture Machine and the Director of Programs at Visual Communications (LA Asian Pacific Film Festival).  Recently, Milton released the feature AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS (FilmBuff) as writer/producer and the webseries JOHN HUGHES RUINED MY LIFE (funded by Tribeca) as writer/director/producer. He also wrapped his short documentary I HATE BIG PHONY on Xfinity TV. Previously, Milton was an ABC/Disney Feature Writing Fellow.  Milton is a member of the WGA.

Jenny Deiker Restivo is the winner of the 2016 Launchpad Pilots Competition, and was listed on both the 2016 Young and Hungry List and the 2017 Bitch List. A graduate of the United World College of the Atlantic and the University of Iowa, she is a writer of primarily dark genre dramas and has worked in reality television for the last nine years.

Aiah Samba is an African American screenwriter based in Los Angeles.  He studied production and screenwriting at Brooks Institute and UCLA, and has worked as a freelance writer for years.  He is currently developing an original TV drama with Overbrook Entertainment and was recently awarded a grant from Break Media to produce an original sci-fi short, Whipping Boy.  He is represented by Stories International.

Elizabeth Stamp is a native of Wheeling, West Virginia, and a graduate of Brown University. She began her career as an editor at Elle Decor and Architectural Digest. She is a contributor to The Onion and her original pilot Maternal Instinct was recently named best comedy script at the New York Television Festival. She is currently developing a comedy podcast with Audible.

Jai Tiggett is a writer and producer with a background in independent film.  She has written and created content with Al Jazeera, Codeblack, Epiphany Films, Issa Rae Productions and others.  She is a film school graduate of Florida State University and UCLA, and she was a Cosby Screenwriting Fellow at USC.  Her writing on entertainment and pop culture has appeared in Shadow & Act, Indiewire, Ebony, Women & Hollywood and Cinematiq Magazine.

Tesia Walker is a writer born in the Bronx, but raised in New Rochelle, NY. She is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA Film Program, and the recent recipient of the Showtime Tony Cox Screenplay Competition for best episodic one-hour teleplay. Prior to film school, she participated in the NBC Page Program, and worked as a television production assistant for both ABC and FX network shows.


Twentieth Century Fox Television - Fox Directors Lab

In its annual report on the ethnic and gender diversity of the television industry, the Directors Guild of America in November identified Twentieth Century Fox Television as the industry leader in hiring diverse voices behind the camera. The DGA Episodic TV Director Diversity Report found that women and minorities helmed 45% of the studio’s 553 episodes of television produced during the 2016-2017 season, including episodes of shows such as Empire, The Americans, This Is Us, and many more.

“I have to credit the Current team who feel personally responsible for giving more opportunities to female and diverse directors,” said Carolyn Cassidy, SVP and Head of Current Programming at TCFTV, about the report. “We’re always looking for new voices behind the camera. With the help of our production department we educate ourselves on new diverse and female directors and aim to integrate them into the pipeline at 20th. Some of our finds this season have really elevated episodes of Empire, The Exorcist and Fresh Off the Boat, to name a few. Giving these directors more chances to succeed with us is a real priority.”

Changing the Face of the TV Industry

In addition to leading the industry overall, TCFTV also hired more people of color to direct television than any other studio, with 23.3% of its episodes directed by ethnic minorities. The company was second only to Amazon at hiring women directors, with 28.9% to Amazon’s 33.5%. These figures combined to make the overall 45%. The DGA also concluded that diverse hiring increased across the industry this year to a record 22%, making 2016-2017 the most inclusive production season ever.    

21st Century Fox is committed to supporting and developing the next generation of storytellers through programs that nurture their creativity and create a strong pipeline of diverse talent to the entertainment industry. The Fox Directors Lab (FDL), for example, was launched in 2014 to increase the number of women and minority directors working in Hollywood. The program annually recruits up-and-coming directors for an intensive three-week course that includes mentorship from directors, showrunners, and executives. Participants from past years have gone on to direct episodes of American Horror Story, You’re the Worst, Snowfall, Empire, Scream Queens, and more.

Studio executives at TCFTV not only shepherd the talent that participate in programs like FDL but also take active roles in shaping the conversation about diversity in Hollywood at large. Dana Sharpless, SVP, Current Programming at TCFTV, Reena Singh, VP, Current Series at TCFTV, and Jonathan Frank, EVP, Current Programming at FX all participated in this year’s DGA Directors Development Initiative, speaking on panels and serving as mentors to young directors. Ann Calfas, EVP of Labor Relations, now serves as Co-Chair of the DGA-Producers Joint Diversity Action Committee, an industry-wide body that meets several times per year to determine the best ways to support directors with diverse voices and backgrounds at the studio level.

Championing Screenwriters and Filmmakers

Twentieth Century Fox undertakes similar efforts to increase diversity behind the camera on its film projects. This year, the studio announced it would partner with the American Film Institute on the Fox Filmmakers Lab. The program gives alumni of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women exclusive access to the studio’s production, creative, and marketing executives.  This past spring, the filmmakers pitched original ideas for a short film based on a Fox franchise or reboot to key creative executives.  In November, 21CF Global Inclusion hosted a breakfast to honor the inaugural class of 25 female filmmakers.

The group also operates the Fox Writers Lab, a fellowship program that spans film, TV, and digital storytelling. Finalists spend 14 weeks on the Fox Lot meeting the company’s creative executives, receiving feedback on their scripts, attending master classes with writers and directors, and hearing from some of the industry’s most experienced figures through guest speaker sessions. At the conclusion of the program, the participants receive staffing meetings for current Fox series and one fellow will receive a first-look development deal to option their original scripts. Many have gone on to write for Fox series such as Lucifer and Star.

Learn more about 21CF’s company-wide diversity efforts, including its suite of programs to support women and minority directors. The 21CF Global Inclusion team is currently working to launch the 2018 edition of the Fox Directors Lab, submissions for which will open in the spring.


21CF Impact Week Volunteer Community Service

For six days and nights in October, nearly 3,000 colleagues from across 21st Century Fox businesses gave back to the communities around them as part of the second annual 21CF Impact Week. Building on the success of 21CF’s first ever company-wide week of service in 2016, which was piloted in New York and Los Angeles, colleagues in 25 U.S. cities took part in 99 service activities that benefited kids, veterans, the environment, victims of Hurricane Harvey, and many more. It is estimated that these efforts, which collectively totaled more than 9,000 hours of service, made a positive difference in the lives of more than 83,000 people. The company plans to further expand 21CF Impact Week to its global locations in 2018.

“I’m honored to work for a company that made Impact Week such an ambitious, visible initiative,” one volunteer said. “I would like 21CF to continue to send the message of encouragement to employees at Fox that we are ordinary people who can do extraordinary things for other people when make a diligent community effort.”

21CF worked with local leads at each of its U.S. based businesses to organize volunteer opportunities around its Social Impact focus areas: Creativity & the Arts, Sports & Well Being, Knowledge & Exploration, Sustainability & the Environment, and Diversity & Inclusion. Service projects included preparing meals for the homeless, cleaning up parks and gardens, building school libraries, packaging supplies for military servicemen and women, and mentoring local youth, among many others. 21CF Impact Week gave colleagues the chance to build thriving communities while strengthening their relationships with coworkers and forging new connections across the business.

In total, 21CF colleagues packed 45,800 pounds of food, made and served 82,884 meals, removed one ton of trash from lakes and rivers, collected 1,019 toys, and created 9,440 backpacks, kits, and care packages, culminating in nearly 9,050 hours of service.

Learn more about Impact Week by reading our in-depth feature and by browsing #21CFImpactWeek on Twitter and Instagram.

21CF Impact Week Volunteer Community Service


Galapagos Islands, National Geographic Partners

To celebrate Earth Month this past April, 21st Century Fox invited colleagues to take part in a unique photography competition in partnership with 21CF’s National Geographic on their Your Shot platform. The contest, judged by a Nat Geo photo editor, enoucraged 21CF colleagues around the world to submit their best nature photography and shots of action against climate change for a chance to win a free National Geographic Expedition trip, well as runner-up prizes of GoPro and Canon PowerShot cameras. The grand prize included a ten-day trip for two to the Galápagos Islands and the opportunity to explore its unique wildlife with the aid of a Nat Geo Expert.

Nat Geo has a longstanding partnership with Lindblad Expeditions, an alliance that has taken people out to explore the most remote and interesting places on the planet as active and mindful travelers. In August 2017, 21CF Earth Month contest grand prize winner Eric Barnes of FOX News Los Angeles set aboard the National Geographic Islander with his niece, Kailie, as well as other travelers and a team of Nat Geo and Lindblad photographers and naturalists who know the archipelago inside and out. “Snorkeling with turtles, sharks and sea lions was unbelievable, and their playfulness and curiosity made for fun photos and lots of smiles. It was amazing to see how these animals all live in harmony—being able to walk among them without feeling their fear or distrust was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before,” reflected Eric after his trip.

Check out highlights from Eric’s trip below, and follow @glotbalfotog on Instagram and Twitter for more of his photographic captures.


Nearly 500 of 21st Century Fox’s colleagues in Texas are affected by the unprecedented rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, including those based in Fox Networks Group’s critical network operations center in The Woodlands and the local Fox Television Stations. As an initial step in its response to the flooding and devastation in that area, the company is donating $500,000 to United Way of Greater Houston’s relief fund.

The relief fund will help meet storm-related needs and recovery in its local community, with a priority given to safety, shelter and basic needs like food. Once the community is stabilized, United Way will focus on long-term recovery efforts.

21CF colleagues and their families were able to find shelter on-site at Fox’s disaster-ready facilities in the affected areas, with live events and news coverage kept on the air since Hurricane Harvey made landfall. Affected colleagues will be eligible for financial assistance grants from the company to help meet their relief and rebuilding needs.

“Our contributions will make a significant, lasting impact in communities that have been forever changed by this disaster,” said 21CF EVP and Chief Communications Officer Julie Henderson, and 21CF EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer Thomas Gaissmaier in an internal memo to 21CF colleagues. 21CF will also match colleague donations to the United Way relief fund.

“It’s been really gratifying that I’ve gotten so many emails from all over the country continuing to ask how our employees in the FOX Sports family are doing down in The Woodlands,” said Eric Shanks, President, COO and Executive Producer of FOX Sports, during a Town Hall in New York on Wednesday. He shared that the FOX Sports facility in the area withstood the hurricane and flooding, staying on air to produce 80 games over the last few days and giving colleagues and their family members a safe place to live. FOX Sports is also encouraging its on-air and online viewers to donate to relief efforts.

At least 31 people are confirmed to have died as a result of the severe rainfall and flooding in the affected areas in Texas, and nearly 50,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. Estimates for the total damage run as high as $190 billion.

“We have received donations of all sizes from individuals and companies and we thank everyone who has answered this urgent call for help in our community – every gift counts,” said Anna M. Babin, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Houston.

To donate, go to United Way of Greater Houston’s website or text “UWFLOOD” to 41444.