MPAC Hollywood Bureau and the Blackhouse Foundation announced its participants for its screenwriting program for Black Muslim writers.
The participants are Maram Ahmed, Desha Dauchan, Aiman Mimiko, Thembia S. Mshaka, Malikah A. Shabazz, Maria Warith Wade, Nadra Widatalla and Sekinat Jumai Yusuf.
“Our partnership with the Blackhouse Foundation on the Television Screenwriting Lab for Black Muslim Writers is a reflection of the thirst people of conscience have for social justice and change in a country that lacks appreciation for both the Black and Muslim communities,” MPAC Hollywood Bureau director Sue Obeidi said.
The program runs May 17 to June 4 as an opportunity for the participants to gain the tools and experience needed to advance their careers as TV writers. It aims to help the writers tell authentic, intersectional stories with nuanced depictions of Black Muslims— a sector that makes up 20 percent of the American Muslim population, but remains underrepresented on screen. Walt Disney TV creative talent development and inclusion vice president Donna Michelle Anderson; writer, actress and producer Fanshen Cox; director and editor Qasim Basir and director-producer-writer Hanelle Culpepper will serve as instructors.
“We couldn’t have imagined how much magic and energy would result from reading all the submitted scripts, naming our participants, assembling our instructors, and training all of our energy on bringing new stories about a tremendously marginalized community to light through these scripts,” Brickson Diamond said, who serves at the board chair for the Blackhouse Foundation.
As a participant, Mimiko will work on his script “House Call,” which is about a young Nigerian doctor who finds himself unable to start his medical residency in New York when his immigration papers are lost in the system. Left with no other options, he works under the table as a mover to make ends meet.
Dauchan’s winning script, “Whispers,” centers on hotshot attorney Lissette Martine, whose dormant clairvoyance awakens when she takes on a pro bono case. Her obsessive investigation of the case ends up leading her toward supernatural forces that make her face her own dark past.
With “Sincerely, Nisaa,” Shabazz tells the story of a complacent producer who maneuvers through her professional and social world via Twitter to anonymously express her feelings… for now.
Ahmed will spend time in the lab with “Figuring it Out,” which focuses on the lives of twenty-something first-generation Black Muslim sisters Hodan and Hanna and their friends Ramla and Medo as they try to gain their footing in life, love and their careers.
In “Running with the Bulls,” Wade chronicles the tale of a Black junior banker who stumbles onto Wall Street and must earn her spot among the financial elite.
Colliding the forces of existentialism and the digital world, Widatalla’s “Naila” features a Black Muslim video game designer who, by night, is a prison abolitionist stuck with deciding which side of capitalism she really sits on.
Coming from Yusuf, “Layla and the Starship Afrotopia” questions “what if your dreams came true?” For the eponymous Layla, a shy, Black Muslim girl, that means escaping her suburban town. Her wishes come true when a wormhole opens up in her bedroom and whisks her away to Afrotopia, a traveling city spaceship. Layla must then figure out if she is the key to helping Afrotopia find a permanent home.
Mshaka’s “Islamid Speed Dating” sees Karimah Hassan, fresh off a bitter divorce, confront her fears and inability to trust during her search for new love. Laughter is her solution through the chaos of her bestie Nubia, the newly trending online dating world of 2004 and real-life dating disasters until two men start vying for her hard.
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” will feature Chris Rock, Samira Wiley and Morray, while Keegan-Michael Key, Zoey Deutch and Conway the Machine, with support from Ludacris and J.I.D., will be on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” “Late Night With Seth Meyers” will have on Anthony Mackie and Jean Smart, whereas Seth Rogen Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall will be on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”