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Nickelodeon Names Three for 10th Fellowship for Diverse Writers

Nickelodeon has announced the three new participants in its 10th Fellowship for Diverse Writers, a program that offers hands-on writing experience that is designed to “attract, develop and staff new and experienced, culturally and ethnically diverse writing talent on Nickelodeon network productions.” The new participants are Jonathan Butler, a published poet and songwriter, Stacie Craig, a former public school teacher, and Gabriel Garza, a film school graduate from Chapman University.

The full press release follows:


Nickelodeon Names Participants of 10th Annual Fellowship for Diverse Writers

Writing Program Designed to Enhance Diversity in Children’s Television

Burbank, Calif. – Dec. 10, 2009 – Nickelodeon has named three new participants for its 10th annual Fellowship for Diverse Writers, it was announced today by Karen Kirkland, Executive Director, Nickelodeon Fellowship for Diverse Writers. Jonathan Butler, a published poet and songwriter, Stacie Craig, a former public school teacher, and Gabriel Garza, a film school graduate from Chapman University, will join the 2009-2010 Nickelodeon fellowship program that offers hands-on writing experience on current live-action and animated series.
Developed to broaden Nickelodeon’s outreach efforts, the fellowship is designed to attract, develop and staff new and experienced, culturally and ethnically diverse writing talent on Nickelodeon network productions.
“Jonathan, Stacie and Gabriel are all incredibly talented writers and we’re thrilled to have them in the fellowship,” said Kirkland. “The program gives us an opportunity to nurture those in our industry whose cultural experiences have traditionally remained underrepresented in television and film. We’re excited that their voices and perspectives will be included in Nickelodeon programming and the world of family entertainment.”
Operating in a three-phased structure, the fellowship provides a salaried position for one year, and offers first-hand experience writing spec scripts, pitching story ideas in both live-action and animation television. Fellows have the opportunity to nurture relationships with creators, network executives, line producers, head writers, show runners and story editors.
The 2009-2010 Nickelodeon writing fellows:
Jonathan Butler, a published poet and songwriter whose song lyrics garnered a 2004 Billboard Best New Artist Award. Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2007 to pursue his writing dream, Butler graduated from vocational high school, left his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. and acted on his philanthropic nature by building schools for international missionaries. Butler believes that “Storytelling is intrinsic in every person and we all basically have the same stories to tell.” From his perspective, power lies in writing for characters that are “Learning or trying to make a change.”
Stacie Craig, a Southern Illinois University graduate with an MFA in Theater/Playwriting and Screenwriting, has been in the entertainment industry for over eight years. Residing in Los Angeles, she most recently served as a public school teacher for five years in the South Central area of the city. Craig believes that good storytelling stems from “A really strong inciting incident that gets your audience engaged and takes them on a journey that keeps them guessing.” She is passionate about children’s media and wants to focus on writing family comedies.
Gabriel Garza, a graduate of Chapman University with a BFA in Production and a graphic art and design background. Upon graduation, he interned at a television production company where he soon was hired as a development, then writer’s assistant. Garza believes that a good story is derived from “Human relatability and a story that stretches your imagination.” He adds that, “The single most influential part of me as a writer is because of animation…and I could not be happier working anywhere else in the world.”
The Nickelodeon Fellowship for Diverse Writers was established in 2000 and receives well over 1,000 applications each year. The three new fellows join an alumni group of 28 who have gone on to freelance and staff positions at various networks, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Disney, Kids’ WB!, PBS, Cartoon Network and the CW. For more information go to www.nickwriting.com.
Alumni of the program include:
Radha Blank (’00-’01): Little Bill, The Backyardigans
Courtney Lilly (’00-’01): Invader Zim, Arrested Development, Everybody Hates Chris, The Cleveland Show
Jessica Lopez (’03-’04): That’s So Raven, Cory in the House, Kath & Kim
Dwayne Colbert & Shahrzad Safai (’03-’04): My Life as a Teenage Robot
Lamar Sally (’04-’05): Rodney
Sameer Asad (’05-’06): Mind of Mencia, Aliens in America, Modern Family
May Chan (’05-’06): Ni Hao Kai-lan, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Phineas and Ferb, Hank
Alessia Constantini (’05-’06): The X’s, Scrubs
Ron Holsey (’05-’06): Ned’s Declassified, Just Jordan, Martha Speaks, Curious George, Brave, Johnny Test, Big Time Rush
Jessica Gao (’06-’07): Barnyard, The Mighty B!, Kung Fu Panda
Kerri Grant (’07-’08): The Backyardigans, The Fresh Beat Band
Itai Grunfeld (’07-’08): Fanboy
Ed Valentine (’07-’08): Ni Hao, Kai-lan, The Fairly OddParents
Ivory Floyd (’08-’09): Penguins of Madagascar

Nickelodeon, now in its 30th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in almost 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 15 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B).

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