Muslim Screenwriters for Muslim Themed Films

Artis-Berkerudung21912c7 A few months ago, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Disney/ABC Television Group partnered to bring together 12 emerging American Muslim writers who were selected from around the country to participate in a day-long screenwriters workshop intensive. “This pilot program was a huge success and we look forward to continuing to invest in these talented voices,” said Deana Nassar, MPAC’s Hollywood Liaison. “These writers are up-and-coming storytellers who will add more rich and diverse portrayals to audiences worldwide.” SEE: Photo Album from MPAC & ABC/Disney Writers Workshop Selected from a pool of 35 applicants who submitted spec scripts, the dozen American Muslim television writers who participated yesterday will be eligible to compete for ABC/Disney’sprestigious Writing Program. “MPAC really did a huge thing, pulling back the curtain on a lot of things regarding storytelling in television,” said workshop participant Nia Malika Dixon. “There are so many projects I have sitting in notebooks waiting for the perfect pitch, the perfect timing, but after yesterday, I learned that there is no such thing as the perfect timing. We really have to take responsibility for our own narrative and start telling our stories, instead of waiting for permission.” Led by Tim McNeal and his team in the Creative Talent Development and Inclusion Group at Disney/ABC, the workshop opened with giving the writers a big picture view of the business and what it takes to be a screenwriter. “It’s a journey to work in this business,” McNeal told the writers. “It takes passion and commitment and this is the beginning of your journey. We are here to help you along your journey. If you choose to work in a creative space in television, please think of us as a resource.” The writers also had the opportunity to meet two participants of the 2014 Disney/ABC Writing Program, who shared valuable words of inspiration. “Figure out who you are as a writer, what your point of view is and what gets you excited,” said Ubah Mohamed, a Somali-American who grew up in Tennessee who recently became a staff writer for the new ABC show “The Whispers.” As someone who wore hijab (headscarf) growing up, she described herself as always being drawn to stories of the outcast who overcame adversity. As a daughter of Indian immigrants who was pressured to go into finance before pursuing her real dream of comedy writing, fellow writer Devanshi Patel said her real world experiences in the finance world turned out to be great writing material which inspired her first successful pilot. The writers also had a chance to meet with Nelson Soler, 2001 Disney/ABC Writing Program alum and producer on ABC Family’s “Ravenswood,” who stressed the importance of “writing what you know” and offered invaluable advice about being successful in the writers’ room. After lunch, the writers sat down with Jamila Hunter, the Vice President of ABC Comedy Development, to learn how to pitch their projects effectively. MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau serves as a professional resource to the entertainment industry by providing reliable and accurate information on Islam, Muslims and interfaith relations to the Hollywood community. The bureau also helps Hollywood professionals connect with creative talent, including emerging Muslim filmmakers, writers and actors.

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