Native American Media Alliance and Cherokee Nation Film Office Announce Writers’ Seminar Recipients – The Hollywood Reporter


The Native American Media Alliance, in partnership with the Cherokee Nation Film Office, announced the inaugural class of Native American Writers Seminar fellows on Tuesday.

The Native American Writers Seminar will provide intensive, professional and creative multi-day coaching to accepted fellows new to film and television writing, providing new access to Native Americans interested in embarking on film writing and television.

“We are thrilled to welcome the first cohort of Native American Writers Seminar,” said Jennifer Loren, director of the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content. “Each of the selected scholarship recipients can play an essential role in the creation and development of Amerindian content essential for television and cinema. It is an honor for our film office to partner with the Native American Media Alliance to provide the necessary resources, mentorship and more to support our joint effort to bring authentic Indigenous representation to these industries. “

All attendees chosen for the seminar will work on an existing script with creative executives from Bad Robot and Skydance, agents from Buchwald and Kaplan Stahler, and showrunners from CBS and ABC.

The program offers intensive development workshops as well as rigorous writing sessions. In addition, the seminar will bring together representatives of prestigious scholarships and former participants of Native American Media Alliance writing programs to provide insight into career development, professional growth and new writing opportunities.

The first Native American Writers Seminar fellows are:

Sienna Tso (Navajo), writer and actress who has worked as a production assistant on movies and TV shows such as Marvel’s Venom II, A24 / Apple TV The sky is everywhere, and HBO Unsafe, and recently wrote his first television pilot.

Camaray Davalos (Payómkawichum / Xicana), who wrote and shot his first short film, Woman blooming at night, in 2021. Davalos also covered indigenous social and environmental issues and the complexities of gender roles and identity.

Neyom Friday (Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma), a writer who draws inspiration from her youth as she attended several tribal and federally-run Native American Indian residential schools across Oklahoma.

Julia Morgan Leatham (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), whose written poetry and visual illustrations are found in the zine Ethel (Summer 2021 / Winter 2021) and is now available in The quat’sous review (summer 2021), and is also in post-production on his short film twisted light.

Lewayne “Buddy” McQueen (Ely Shosone Tribe), who was part of the award-winning group Alibi the show in Las Vegas and reached the Four Directions Talent Search semifinals.

Kat Smith (Eagle Clan of the Tsimshian Tribe), an actress who earned a BA in theater as part of Dr. Terry Converse’s study.

Meilani Wenska (Hawaiian), whose written work includes two feature films, two pilots, five short films and a collection of poetry. She has also directed four short films and a music video and is currently developing numerous series.

Christopher York (Choctaw / Chickasaw), writer, teacher and artist who has taught at East Central University as an Assistant Professor of English since 2016.

The Native American Media Alliance (NAMA) advocates for the representation of Native Americans in the entertainment industry. This initiative works as a resource for industry staff to work with Native Americans who have an authentic voice for film, television and new media. NAMA is a project of the Barcid Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on multimedia programming in Indigenous communities.

The mission of the Cherokee Nation Film Office is to increase the presence of Native Americans at all levels of the film and television industries while creating opportunities for economic development and employment in the Cherokee Nation.


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