Walker and more alumni land staff writing jobs on FOX series
21CF Global Inclusion has announced that writer Tesia Walker has been selected as this year’s Fox Writers Lab (FWL) Fellow. Chosen from the seventh annual group of FWL writers, Walker has received a script development deal with FOX Broadcasting Company. The FWL is an immersive program for television writers with diverse voices and backgrounds.
Walker has already joined the writing staff of the legal drama “Proven Innocent” for the 2018-2019 season. In addition, Jenny Deiker Restivo, Felicia Hilario and Jai Tiggett, all classmates of Walker’s in this year’s FWL, have respectively joined FOX’s medical drama “The Resident,” the network’s action drama “Lethal Weapon” and “LA’s Finest” at Bell Media/Sony Pictures Television. These are the first staff writing positions for the four writers, representing both a major milestone in their careers and a symbol of 21CF’s ongoing work to create a pipeline of diverse talent in the entertainment industry.
“We’re thrilled for Tesia, and we’re so proud of all the writers in this year’s class. Over the course of the program, we’ve witnessed their professional and artistic growth and we’re confident that their backgrounds, perspectives and unique voices will strengthen our pipeline of original storytellers,” said MyKhanh Shelton, Senior Vice President, 21CF Global Inclusion.
“Fox Writers Lab continues to yield an incredible amount of talent,” said Michael Thorn, President, Entertainment, FOX. “We want to both congratulate Tesia on being named this year’s Fellow, and express our heartfelt thanks to all of this year’s participants for their tremendous work throughout FWL’s rigorous process. It’s an absolute honor to witness the growth these writers experience in such a short period of time.”
Prior to FWL, Walker worked as a production assistant on FX and ABC. She graduated from Columbia University’s MFA Film Program and won the Showtime Tony Cox Screenplay Competition for Best Episodic One-Hour Teleplay, as well as the Jesse Thompkins III Writing Fellowship. Her short film “Search Party” was awarded an HBO Production Grant and was also a semi-finalist in NBC Universal’s 2016 Shorts Fest.
“FWL provided the foundations and techniques needed to excel both inside and outside of the writers’ room,” Walker said. “Whether it was the guest speakers, workshops, the Fox executives and their invaluable wisdom, or the instructors encouraging me to craft the strongest story on the page, they were all tools that helped me land my first staff writing job.”
The eight writers selected for this year’s program included Tesia Walker, Elizabeth Stamp, Milton Liu, Jenny Deiker Restivo, Jai Tiggett, Anthony Florez, Aiah Samba and Felicia Hilario. Each of them spent four months on the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles earlier this year, during which time they re-wrote an original comedy or drama pilot script, received professional coaching from executives at FOX, Fox 21, FX and 20th Century Fox Television; and attended guest speaker sessions with experienced writers, showrunners and producers, including showrunners Matt Nix (“The Gifted”) and Raven Metzner (“Marvel’s Iron Fist”), and producer/writer Danny Strong (“Empire,” “Proven Innocent”). Hilario describes FWL as the perfect next step for emerging writers.
“I was able to transform my script into an elevated, highly improved version under the guidance of the Lab’s amazing facilitators, along with the input from my fellow participants,” she said. “A strong pilot, proper preparation for a writer’s room, new professional relationships, and my first job as a television writer would not have been possible without the Fox Writers’ Lab. My experience in the Lab has truly been a gift of a lifetime.”
Now that the fellows are out of the workshop and in writers’ rooms, they have begun to put the skills they learned to use in real time. For Restivo, the jump from fellow to staff writer was initially overwhelming but every bit as exciting as she hoped:
“I was shy in the room at first but have slowly gained confidence,” she said. “The writers are ridiculously talented and I’m constantly forced to up my game… There is a lot to learn, but it is the best kind of sensory overload. Having written in a vacuum for most of my life, it’s a crazy, challenging, awesome thing to be part of the fast pace of a network drama writers’ room.”
21CF Global Inclusion nurtures diverse voices and stories, both in front of and behind the camera, through a variety of partnerships, initiatives and programs, including the Fox Writers Lab, Fox Directors Lab, Fox Filmmakers Lab and the Fox DP Lab.