“The experience of having someone reading your work, giving you feedback, and providing some insights in Hollywood” is what motivated Julio Salgado, Senior Program Manager for The Artistic Leadership Program at The Center for Cultural Power, to co-create The Disruptors Fellowship.
Salgado is an undocumented, queer, Mexican-born artist who grew up in Long Beach, California. Around 2010, he and his creative partner, Jesús Iñiguez, began to explore screenwriting together. This is when they started the series Undocumented and Awkward, which was posted on YouTube.
“We were not professional actors. We were not professional writers. We just wanted to tell stories,” said Salgado. He shared that their main goal is to support artists in similar positions, especially those who are part of marginalized communities. In fact, the fellowship requires that applicants identify themselves as people of color and trans and/or nonbinary, disabled, or undocumented/formerly undocumented.
Even though they might have to host their meetings online due to the Coronavirus pandemic, they also mention on their website that they expect all fellows to be L.A.-based artists. They are hopeful of in-person meetings as soon as it is safe to gather. However, regardless of whether it will be a virtual or physical experience, The Disruptors Fellowship will provide incredible writing opportunities.
Fellows will receive 90-minute Master Classes in T.V. drama writing, T.V. comedy writing, disrupting Hollywood as BIPOC writers, and intellectual property. They will have mentoring sessions with experienced writers like Jennifer Castillo (Vida), Zackery Alexzader Stephens (Q-Force), and Carolina Paiz (Orange Is The New Black, Grey’s Anatomy). By nurturing their talents and acquiring a support system, ten fellows will develop a deeper understanding of the industry.
Additionally, Salgado discussed the importance of The Disruptors Fellowship being a paid fellowship. Low-income artists are not able to apply to many programs because they can not afford it. Even when these programs are free, taking time off from work is not an option. So, to break such limitations, becoming a “disruptor” will come with a $6,000 stipend and free Final Draft software.
To conclude the fellowship, writers are given the space and resources to organize readings of the projects they have worked on. For last year’s cohort, the first annual Disruptors Fellowship hired performers to act out writers’ scripts and invited more than 200 people from the industry to watch the events over Zoom. This year, a new cohort will have the same opportunity towards the end of the August program.
If you are interested in joining The Disruptors Fellowship, make sure to complete the online application before March 19, 2021. There is no required fee. Sections include a letter of interest, a short bio, two 10-page (maximum) samples of your work, and a short logline of the project you will be working on during this fellowship.
“We want people who are serious about their craft, who don’t see this as a hobby. Trust yourself. You have a story to tell. Lean on that unique perspective you have. As long as you have been writing and have something to show us, even if raw, you are welcome to apply,” Salgado advised prospective fellows. “Show us what makes you a disruptor through your writing.”
Lastly, if there are any organizations interested in partnering with The Disruptors Fellowship, providing equipment or software to fellows, or simply wondering how to support the work of BIPOC, undocumented, disabled, and trans folks, please reach out to Julio Salgado at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a Hollywood institution with access to resources, whether that looks like showcasing the work of BIPOC creatives or providing funds for them to focus on their craft, this is your opportunity to invest in diversity and inclusion initiatives.