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  • Lacrystal Parker

Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat, Sundance Institute Announce 2nd Annual “Women Write Now” Screenwriting Fellow

Three Black female comedy writers will receive a 12-month first-look deal with the comedian's production company.

Applications are open for the second edition of Women Write Now, the screenwriting fellowship from Kevin Hart’s production company and Sundance Institute for Black women comedy scribes.

Three fellows will be selected to develop their original comedy short film scripts with the opportunity premiere them at a private screening at the Sundance Film Festival next year, after which they will be released on Hartbeat’s digital brand, LOL Network. The fellows will subsequently be signed to a 12-month first-look deal for projects to be produced by Hartbeat and released on LOL Network, as well as the chance to pitch one separate project to Hartbeat for a development deal.

“Last year’s debut of Women Write Now proved there is an entire ecosystem of artists, allies, executives and mentors ready and willing to uplift and usher in the next generation of talented Black women in comedy,” Hartbeat CEO Thai Randolph said in a statement. “We’re excited to build off the tremendous momentum we created in partnership with Sundance Institute and introduce new opportunities through Hartbeat as we continue our mission to cultivate and empower emerging voices.”

Lead screenwriting mentor Yamara Taylor (co-executive producer on Peacock’s Saved by the Bell) is returning to work with this year’s fellows, alongside The 40-Year-Old Version filmmaker Radha Blank and Kay Oyegun (exec producer on NBC’s This is Us). Hartbeat’s Thai Randolph and Candice Wilson Cherry will serve as lead creative advisors to offer career development guidance alongside an array of industry veterans including producer Stephanie Allain (Dear White People, Hustle & Flow), director Marta Cunningham (AMC’s 61st Street, TNT’s Claws), ICM Partners agent Ava Greenfield, producer Codie Oliver (OWN’s Black Love) and former HBO exec Kelly Edwards, who penned the book The Executive Chair: A Writer’s Guide to TV Development.

“We’re very excited to continue Women Write Now in partnership with Hartbeat for a second year,” Sundance Institute founding senior director of artist programs Michelle Satter said in a statement. “This program allows emerging talent to connect meaningfully with industry mentors and creates the foundation for sustainable, long-term projects and career development. Additionally, the discovery and support of Black women comedy writers is a great opportunity to expand Sundance’s focus on talented storytellers working in the comedy arena.”

Applications are due at the fellowship website on June 6, after which about 10 finalists will be interviewed by Hartbeat staff. A panel consisting of Hartbeat execs, Sundance Institute Partners as well as filmmakers and other industry leaders will choose the three fellows, and all applicants will be notified of the results by email around July 18.

Last year, inaugural fellows Wilandrea Blair, Danielle Nicolet and Moni Oyedepo were selected from more than 670 applicants from around the country. Actors Gabrielle Dennis (HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show), Meagan Good (Amazon’s Harlem) and Bresha Webb (Starz’s Run the World) directed their shorts, which were hosted exclusively on Peacock

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