STARZ Writers' Intensive 2022 Selected Participants
Alejandra's short film "The Blue Cape", which she wrote and directed, has screened at Oscar® qualifying Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, Uppsala International Short Film Festival, Guadalajara International Film Festival, Aspen Shortfest, among others, and was acknowledged with an Honorable Mention in the category for Best Live Action at Cleveland International Film Festival. She has written and directed for Sony Pictures Television, W Magazine and Marvel Entertainment. Originally from Puerto Rico, Alejandra is now based in Los Angeles. She's repped by Bellevue Productions and WME.
Corey Dashaun grew up in Rochester, New York, and is currently a staff writer on ONE OF US IS LYING for Peacock and UCP. In 2021, he won the Seriesfest Storytellers Initiative Competition and partnered with Propagate Content to develop the winning comedy script FUCK! SUMMER'S OVER. In 2021, he participated in the Sundance Episodic labs as a fellow. Additionally, Corey is developing GROUPIES, a horror-comedy feature, with Hyperobject Industries. As a 2021 Film Independent PROJECT INVOLVE fellow, Corey was the Sony Pictures Entertainment grant recipient for his short film titled HARD which will screen at Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival and Hollyshorts Film Festival in 2022.
Gabby Revilla Lugo
A dramedy feature/TV writer/director/producer and formerly undocumented immigrant, Gabby Revilla Lugo started her career in physical production then ventured into the independent feature space where she worked with names like Damian Chazelle on his award-winning film, Whiplash. She had success with films including the award-winning Palm Springs, The Starling, and Fox Searchlight's Next Goal Wins, written and directed by Taika Waititi. Gabby was staffed on ABC's hit drama, A Million Little Things, and teaches screenwriting at the Script Anatomy school. In 2021 Gabby sold multiple podcasts and landed a feature film writing job for Mattel. She also sold 15 Candles, a TV pilot based on John Hughes' 16 Candles, to Peacock, alongside UCP and OJALA, which is led by award-winning playwright, Tanya Saracho. She worked on the TV series Brujas and completed the WGA's showrunner training program. Most recently she has been tapped as the creator of a racing drama with MGM International. Gabby has several TV projects in development, including one with 3PAS and Gina Rodriguez that is in negotiations with a major studio, and another for broadcast with AGC studios.
Ida Yazdi is a Muslim Iranian American writer who was raised between Isfahan, Iran and Birmingham, Alabama. She is a former architect, having worked within renowned architecture studios around the world before deciding to embark on a career in television writing. Drawing from her own experience, Ida writes stories that center on women who find themselves in various stages of change and upheaval, wrestling with themes of cultural identity, alienation, and otherness. She builds narratives that examine both the humor and pain that comes with starting over in life, specifically through the lens of Muslim and Middle Eastern women.
Her most recent short film, LESSONS, premiered at Maryland Film Festival and her writing has received honors at Atlanta Film Festival and Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival. Her pilot, ANDI, TODAY was a finalist for the 2021 Stowe Story Labs Fellowship and the Almanack Episodic Lab. It was also selected as a second rounder for Sundance Episodic Lab and featured on the 2022 Black List x Muslim List, which highlights the best unproduced scripts written by Muslim writers. She was accepted into the Writers Guild Foundation’s Writers’ Access Training Program and the 2022 Women in Film Writers Mentorship Program. She received an MFA in Screenwriting from Columbia University where she was awarded the 2020-2021 Screenwriting Teaching Fellowship. She has worked as a Script Coordinator for shows like City on Fire on Apple TV+ and The Girls on the Bus on HBOMax.
As a Black and queer man, all my writing is focused on characters that are (like myself) underdogs. I grew up poor—really poor. I don’t mean like; I got a jalopy when I was 16 instead of a brand-new Lexus. I mean my single mom and I were homeless for several years in my childhood. So, when I was accepted to the prestigious University of Notre Dame, it felt like a family triumph. Then the cold reality hit: at a school designed for the wealthy and well-connected, the steep price of tuition was far out of reach. To everyone’s shock and joy, a wealthy man responded to the ad my high school guidance counselor put in the paper asking for charitable donations and offered to pay my way. The plot twist came after I got the check. I researched my benefactor and learned that he was a third-generation mobster. In a weird way, I was married to the mob for a short time. Although I no longer have any contact with that family, the irony of how they changed my life is not lost on me.
Nevertheless, I graduated as a Film & Television major from the University of Notre Dame in 2007. I moved to Los Angeles immediately after graduation and my first job was at ICM as an assistant. After ICM, I became a production assistant on the FOX crime procedural Bones. Later, I got the position of writer’s assistant on a short-lived ABC crime procedural Detroit 187. Following the cancellation of Detroit 187, I stumbled into reality television casting as a way to make ends meet. It was a strange but entertaining chapter of my life, littered with reality stars. But in March of 2022, I was finally hired to write on my first show, a romantic soap on Netflix called Virgin River, by showrunner Patrick Sean Smith.
Jorge Thomson is a Latinx comedy writer and performer with Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Irish American roots. Jorge spent his childhood moving back and forth between Washington D.C. and New Mexico as his mother pursued her political career. Jorge disappointed his two lawyer parents by going to NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts to study acting. After graduation, he performed in the company of an acclaimed New York production of MACBETH starring Kenneth Branagh. Since then, he’s performed sketch and improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (in both English and Spanish). Jorge tested as a series regular on the Network Comedy Pilot JEFFRIES (NBC). Jorge worked as the Writers’ PA on the final two seasons of MODERN FAMILY and as a Development Assistant for comedy writer Abraham Higginbotham at 20th Television. Jorge worked as a Showrunner's Assistant to Jeffrey Richman on his upcoming comedy series UNCOUPLED (Netflix). Jorge is currently working as a Sony Overall Deal Assistant / Showrunner's Assistant to Michael Jonathan Smith on his upcoming action-comedy series TWISTED METAL (Peacock). Jorge was a 2020 National Hispanic Media Coalition Writing Fellow, a semi-finalist for the 2021 Universal DreamWorks Animation Writers Program, and a finalist for the 2022 Walt Disney Writing Fellowship. Jorge’s comedy pilot SORTA RICAN placed as a Top 10 Finalist in the 2021 Launch Pad Pilot Competition. Jorge’s writing is joke heavy and often aims to explore his own Latinx cultural identity crisis.
Naiyah Ambros is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker. She currently attends the MFA Film Production program at USC's School of Cinematic Arts where she is a recipient of the prestigious George Lucas Family Foundation Scholarship. Most recently, her thesis film Agua de tu Madre - which is inspired by her AfroCuban heritage — was awarded the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant and was a finalist in the Netflix sponsored LALIFF Inclusion Fellowship, a semi-finalist for ScreenCraft’s Film Fund, an Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition quarter-finalist, and was rated in the Top 5% of Horror scripts on Coverfly. Her film Grammable won Best Dark Comedy Film at the Oregon Short Film Festival and is currently on the festival circuit. It recently made its Los Angeles Premiere at the New Filmmakers Los Angeles Film Festival. Her independently produced film The Question, which follows a mixed Cuban woman as she navigates dating is set to premiere in New York this summer. In 2022, she also was a staff writer + producer of USC’s Provenance, a $40K television miniseries. Naiyah received degrees in Modern Culture & Media and Political Science from Brown University. Before enrolling at USC, Naiyah was a Scripted Development Coordinator for Vice Studios where she helped develop television projects for platforms like Hulu, Showtime, and Amazon. Naiyah's interest as a storyteller comes from her identity as a mixed-race woman; she loves to tell stories about intersectional characters caught between worlds and prefers to do so through genres like horror, suspense, mystery, and crime while always holding on to her trademark dark sense of humor and irony.
Nzinga Kadalie Kemp
Nzinga Kadalie Kemp began writing for stage and screen in the thriving arts community of Atlanta, Georgia where she earned a B.A. from Clark Atlanta University and later received an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Nzinga's work has been featured in venues internationally, including the Tribeca Performing Arts Center and the National Black Arts Festival. Her film, His/Herstory, an adaptation of her mother’s short story about polygamy in Southwest Atlanta, was featured in festivals internationally including the Toronto International Film Festival. Her screenplay, In The Meantime, won GMC Television Network’s Faith and Family Screenplay competition and made its debut on UPtv Network. Nzinga also wrote an episode of The First Family starring Yara Shahidi. Her short film, Jamaica T. Jones & the End of the World, is currently streaming on Streampix.
Raymond Arturo Perez
Raymond Arturo Perez is a Los Angeles-based film and television writer and creative, originally from San Antonio, Texas, who served as staff writer on Season 2 of Netflix’s Selena: The Series.
As a queer Latine writer, Raymond aims to further drive representation in film and television by telling stories of Latines, queer people, and other underrepresented and historically marginalized communities. He is currently pursuing financing opportunities for his independent feature Ellie’s War on Christmas and looks forward to a stage adaptation of his feature musical East Broadway: The Musical, opening in 2023 at Citrus College.
Raymond was recently selected as a finalist for the inaugural 2021 Out Loud List by Out in Hollywood, an industry initiative that spotlights the best unproduced stories centered around queer characters, developed by proudly out queer writers. In his continued effort to increase authentic representation across the industry, Raymond has partnered with various organizations like Outfest, Joseph Le Conte Middle School and The University of Texas at Austin to mentor young and emerging creatives with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. In addition, Raymond is currently an active member of The Clubhouse, a fellowship of gay Latinx writers aimed at fostering professional relationships and supporting writers in the industry.
Raymond’s industry experience also includes production accounting for television shows including Season 1 and 2 of The History of Comedy; 1968: The Year that Changed America; The Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties and The Agent. He has also served in other accounting roles, including development payroll for wiip studio and writers’ room payroll for Season 3 of Apple TV’s Dickinson and Amazon’s The Summer I Turned Pretty. Raymond currently serves as production accountant for Paramount.
Raymond received a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film and Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014, and received a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in 2019.
When he isn’t writing at his kitchen table, Raymond enjoys dancing to an array of music genres including salsa, Brazilian funk, cumbia, merengue, and bachata – in that order.
Tennessee Martin is a Southern screenwriter from a big family (1 of 10 siblings in fact) who studied Digital Film & Visual Art at Stephens College, the second oldest women's college in the nation. She has worked on hit shows such as Lucifer on FOX, Training Day for CBS, and Family Crimes for Starz. Previously, Tennessee worked at Starz as the Coordinator in Original Programming where she spearheaded the creation of the “Starz -- Beyond Gender Casting Database” giving visibility to Trans and Non-Binary actors in the industry and coordinated for the Head of Operations at Apple TV+.
Now, she is the Coordinator for Carmi Zlotnik, President of Television, at Legendary TV. She co-founded the LadyParts Collective, an all-female theater company, and was selected to participate in the Inc Program writers incubator for women in 2020. She was also a finalist in the Athena Film Festival Virtual Writers Lab. Her first macabre short film HANGRY directed by Bola Ogun won Best Horror at Toronto International Women Film Festival and Best LGBTQ in the Sydney Indie Shorts Fest, but not one to be pinned down to a genre, she also has a Christmas feature full of heart and fabulous drag queens ready to be produced.
Tennessee's southern gothic drama pilot Sutton Holler ranked #5 on the Golden List in 2022 and is currently a quarterfinalist in the Screen Craft Action & Adventure screenplay competition. Through her work she hopes to inspire women and queer people to speak up and push back. She enjoys painting, camping, restoring her motorcycle, training in Jiu Jitsu and telling punny “dad” jokes - though her only child is a rescue pup named Rio. Tennessee is represented by APA and Fourth Wall Management.
Announcement of the 10 selected participants exclusively on Deadline.