Bisha K Ali

Source: Linda Cooper

Bisha K Ali

Netflix and Sky are launching a £100,000-plus screenwriters fellowship for under-represented communities, steered by Sex Education writer Bisha K Ali.

Ali, whose credits also include forthcoming Disney+ series Ms Marvel, is to offer six individuals a year-long opportunity to develop a script, supported by a £22,500 bursary.

The programme, which opens for entries today, will enable its participants to attend monthly seminars and workshops and have an industry mentor. Ali herself will conduct three mentoring meetings with each fellow.

It will also include a placement in the writers room of a Netflix or Sky series, including the opportunity to write a shadow script.

Ali said the fellowship is designed to help create a “more inclusive” industry.

“This industry holds many barriers to entry and unfortunately the true price can be insurmountably high when the hidden costs add up,” she said. ”It’s a huge ask – to juggle a job that brings you an income with the ability to drop work to go to meetings, find time to improve your craft, and build relationships in what is a freelancer’s field.

“This fellowship will create a substantial financial safety net for underrepresented writers whose voices and stories are vital and incredibly valuable, and who may otherwise be priced out of building a career in television and film.”

Netflix vice president of original series Anne Mensah said outstanding writers will be provided with the support, network and tools to “find a home”.

She added: “We’ve worked to design a programme that not only tries to remove some of the barriers to entering our industry, but provides the space, time and financial security to help writers develop their craft.”

Sky Studios chief content officer Jane Millichip said writers from under-represented backgrounds are needed at the table “in every creative conversation”.

This story first appeared on Screen’s sister site Broadcast