Connect with us


Outfest Announces Their 2022 Screenwriting Lab Fellows

The ten selected emerging LGBTQIA+ screenwriters will take part in the week-long lab



The ten selected emerging LGBTQIA+ screenwriters will take part in the week-long lab

Outfest – the Los Angeles-based nonprofit that uplifts global LGBTQIA+ creators in the entertainment industry by providing career support and curating the exhibition and preservation of queer and transgender stories – has selected ten queer and transgender writers from diverse backgrounds for their 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab. The selected fellows will workshop feature-length and pilot scripts during a week-long lab, taking place virtually from Monday, December 5 to Friday, December 9. The 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab is run in partnership with Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity.

Created in 1997 as a screenwriting contest, the Outfest Screenwriting Lab has since become the cornerstone of Outfest’s artist development and education programs. Beyond workshopping their scripts, this year’s cohort will attend industry panels and be mentored by distinguished LGBTQIA+ showrunners, writers, producers, studio and network executives, and screenwriters. Some of the industry leaders participating include Álvaro Rodriguez (Seis Manos, American Rust), Brian Boone (CAA), Chloe Keenan (Single Drunk Female), Cole Galvin (Netflix), Jeffrey Richman (Modern Family, Uncoupled), John August (Big Fish), LaToya Morgan (Parenthood, Shameless), Mercedes Valle (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), Sanaz Yamin (Day Zero Productions), Ryan O’Connell (Special), and Will Graham (Mozart in the Jungle, A League of Their Own), among others. 

With support from Netflix, Outfest expanded access to the program by waiving submission fees for all applicants and will be providing career sustainability grants to help financially support each of the fellows. Through this expanded access, the Outfest Screenwriting Lab received a record number of over 900 submissions, more than double the amount received in 2021. 

This year’s fellows include: Bri J. Hernandez, Donovan Tolledo, Estevan, James Acker, Joseph Sackett, Katie Heaney, Paloma Riojas, Riya Saxena, Rubén Mendive and Vernon Jordan, III.

“The Outfest Screenwriting Lab is a testament to the power of community,” said Outfest Educational Programs Manager Kieran Medina. “An all LGBTQIA+ experience, the entire Lab is for us, by us. Across 25 years, Outfest has created a community of creative and professional support where queer, trans and nonbinary storytellers and stories can be held with care and understood in full bloom.”

“Outfest’s Screenwriting Lab is a critical part of the organizations larger vision of cultivating belonging for queer, trans and nonbinary creators by facilitating mentorship to support a sustainable creative journey,” said Outfest’s Artist Development Director Martine McDonald. “It’s care-driven storytelling like this that transforms our communities, creative industry and wider world.”

The Lab is also providing industry support to thirteen additional Notable Writers, which include Adelina Anthony, Adina Kruskal, Chasey Ridgley, Drew Burnett Gregory, Ernesto Martínez, Gerard Shaka, Joseph Pellegrino, Kate Imy, Nathan Pearson, Nick Janaye, Robert Cunningham, Sebastián Rea and Stevie Wain.

The Lab was developed this year by Outfest board members Zackery Alexzander Stephens, Kyle Schmitz, Ranard Caldwell and Valerie Stadler, along with former Outfest board member Cora Olson, Outfest Educational Programs Manager Kieran Medina and Outfest Director of Artist Development Martine McDonald

Outfest Artist Development Director Martine McDonald and several of the 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Fellows are available for interviews upon request.

About This Year’s Fellows and Their Projects

Bri J. Hernandez (they/them) Bri J. Hernandez is a 23-year-old Latine writer and director. Working since they were sixteen, Bri has spent the past seven years developing their skills as a creator by producing their own projects utilizing art, theatre, and film. As an advocate for many social rights issues, Bri has prioritized creating material that fosters new conversations and helps amplify the voices of queer people of color. Their work primarily focuses on coming of age, friendship, and identity. They currently live in Austin with their two best friends and their cats.

BOYS IN BANDS (Feature): A closeted teenage transgender boy must keep his secret life as a male garage band singer away from his traditional Latino family.

Donovan Tolledo (he/him) Donovan Tolledo is a NYC-based writer and producer born in Saudi Arabia and raised in the Philippines and Chicago. His written work often centers around the Asian-American experience, tackling immigration, sexuality, and masculinity. He received his MFA from Columbia University in May 2022. His work at Columbia has screened at Newfest, and his thesis short Fat Lip received support from Panavision New Filmmakers Program, was nominated for a National Board of Review student grant, and is currently on the film festival circuit. 

FAT LIP (Feature): Nerdy Asian-American middle schooler, Benjie, falls for a rebel sk8er boi. To gain his attention, Benjie must ditch his immigrant geek persona and transform into a radical, emo, all-American teen.

Estevan (he/him) Estevan is a queer, first-generation Mexican-American writer, director and actor born and raised in South-Central Phoenix, Arizona. Estevan writes human experience dramas that explore sexuality, nostalgia, and otherness. He is the co-host of the comedy podcast Your Gay Cousins with Michael & Estevan. Most recently, he wrote on Love In Gravity, a queer anthology audio drama series. Previously, Estevan was the writers’ assistant and co-wrote an episode of the character-driven sexual assault drama, Long Slow Exhale (Spectrum). He was also the Writers’ PA on season 2 of LA’s Finest (Spectrum/Fox). Estevan began his career as a Manager of Television Development and Programming at Dick Clark Productions, penning red carpet specials and award shows. He was in the inaugural 2021 Sony Pictures Television Studio’s Emerging Writers’ Program and Estevan’s original drama pilot X was named the winner of Script Pipeline’s 2020 TV Writing Competition. Estevan received his BFA in Film & Television Studies from The University of Arizona and currently resides in Los Angeles.

ELOTE PREPARADO (Episodic): This semi-autobiographical dramedy follows a Chicano & his husband who return to Arizona for a quinceañera, but when his conservative mother discovers PrEP in his luggage he must come clean about his open relationship as family secrets are exposed.

James Acker (he/they) James Acker grew up in New Jersey, and he’s based his entire personality off that fact. In 2003, a joke of his was published in Nickelodeon Magazine. After a brief hiatus from writing, he won the 2020 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowship for his screenplay SADBOI. His young adult sports romance The Long Run will debut Feb ’23. When he’s not writing, James lives in Los Angeles with his wonderfully supportive partner and his two recurring stress dreams.

SADBOI (Feature): Thrown out of the house, an emotionally-stunted high schooler must revisit old friends and repair burnt bridges all in the name of finding a place to sleep. 

Joseph Sackett (he/him) Joseph Sackett is an award-winning filmmaker who has written, directed and produced projects that have screened in competition at the Festival de Cannes, Outfest, Slamdance and the Rooftop Films Summer Series among others. He received his MFA in Screenwriting and Directing from NYU Tisch Graduate Film. He was named as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2020” and is a 2022 Marth MOCA Resident through The Cabins Collaborative. His first feature, HOMEBODY, premiered at Outfest LA where he won the Emerging Talent Award. He is currently in development on his next feature, Cross Pollination, which was named to the NYU Purple List 2022.

CROSS POLLINATION (Feature): A queer sci-fi rom-com about an alien who falls in love with a human.

Katie Heaney (she/her) Katie Heaney is an author, screenwriter and journalist based in Los Angeles. She has written six books, including the memoirs Never Have I Ever and Would You Rather?, and the novels Dear Emma (a modern adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma), Public Relations (currently optioned for film), Girl Crushed and The Year I Stopped Trying. Her 2018 Modern Love essay “Am I Gay or Straight? Maybe This Fun Quiz Will Tell Me” was adapted for the Amazon Modern Love TV series in 2021. My Ex-Wife’s Wedding is her first feature script. 

MY EX-WIFE’S WEDDING (Feature): When a recently divorced lesbian learns her ex-wife is (already!) getting married again, she has to scramble to find a date she can present as her girlfriend to prove SHE’S doing just fine, too, thanks.

Paloma Riojas (she/her) Paloma Riojas is a queer chingona who strives to create stories that authentically explore the complexities of being human. She’s been on the Black List Latinx TV List and the inaugural Mentorship Matters writers’ program in collaboration with Netflix, HBO and Amazon. Paloma is currently developing shows with Cedar Park Entertainment and SB Projects. She’s been a writers’ assistant for Showtime and Paramount+ and previously was a development executive. Her work has premiered at Sundance and Cannes. Paloma has an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She is represented by UTA and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC.

SHEPHERD (Episodic): Dr. Luz Garza is a brilliant scientist wrongfully accused of murder who becomes a fugitive when she discovers her twin, who died ten years ago, is still alive. On a mission to find her sister, Luz and her loyal allies are pulled into a compelling conspiracy connected to Luz’s past, present, and future. 

Riya Saxena (she/her) Riya Saxena is a South Asian American writer, stand-up comedian and improviser based in Chicago. She trained in improv at the Second City and studied writing at the Comedy Lab. Currently a first-year medical student at Northwestern, Riya has continued to write and perform. Most recently, she performed at the Second City as part of the “Evergreen” improv team. As a writer, Riya aims to provide genuine representation and precipitate intergenerational dialogue about differences within the South Asian community. Inspired by Bollywood, her writing integrates magic realism while centering around the lived experiences of the South Asian community.

MATCHMAKERS (Episodic): Heartstopper meets Never Have I Ever when a chaotic South Asian teen trio accidentally turns matchmaker for their community and must navigate outdated traditions, growing friendships, and modern day love. 

Rubén Mendive (he/him) Rubén Mendive is a queer, formerly undocumented, Mexican immigrant raised on the South Side of Chicago. He was a writer/producer for Brown & Out V, a queer Latinx play festival, at Casa 0101 Theater in 2019 and a TV Writing Mentee in Lena Waithe’s 2022 Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab. He is also the host of La Lista: A Latinx WritersPodcast, a platform dedicated to connecting and highlighting Latinx voices in media. His writing deals with themes of immigration, queer identity and racial politics in America. He is currently based in Los Angeles.

LITTLE VILLAGE (Episodic): A documentary crew follows the misadventures of an openly queer, Latino on the Chicago City Council as he tackles personal & old school politics.

Vernon Jordan, III (he/they) Vernon Jordan, III is a Philly-born ‘n raised writer, filmmaker, poet, and teaching artist. As an afrofuturist, he expands upon African American memories, dreams, hauntings, queer kinship and intimate fluidity; his priority is the merging of the visual and the musical: a Visual Lyricist. With a BA from Muhlenberg College (’16) and a MFA from Brooklyn College (‘19), he’s currently the Assistant Director of Programs at cinéSpeak and a Professor of Screenwriting aka Poetics of the Screen at Moore College of Art and Design. Their 2022 short film, One Magenta Afternoon, has played at seven film festivals across the US and two internationally.

LAVENDER BOY (Feature): Lavender Boy is a semi-autobiographical coming of age feature film about a young boy who is queered by his ancestral ability to see ghosts. But when his Pop Pop passes away, the young boy is left to figure out this gift on his own and help a queer spirit on the journey to reconnecting in love. 

About Outfest

Founded by UCLA students in 1982, Outfest is the world’s leading organization that promotes equality by creating, sharing and protecting LGBT stories on the screen. Outfest builds community by connecting diverse populations to discover, discuss and celebrate stories of LGBT lives. For forty years, Outfest has showcased thousands of films from around the world, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers, and protected more than 40,000 LGBT films and videos. The Outfest Screenwriting Lab, established in 1997, has mentored nearly 150 screenwriters, propelling both films into produced feature films and establishing writers into writers’ rooms. 

Source: Netflix

Want more stories 👋
"Your morning jolt of Inspiring & Interesting Stories!"

Sign up to receive awesome articles directly to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Continue Reading


Arizona Athletic Grounds draws over 100,000 Attendees for Presidents Weekend

AAG is the USA’s Premier Youth Athletic Grounds



MESA, Ariz. /PRNewswire/ — Arizona Athletic Grounds (“AAG”) drew well in excess of 100,000 visits over the four days of Presidents weekend. Teams from across the USA including Alaska and Florida participated in 3 tournaments in soccer, volleyball and softball. New ownership provided a positive experience for the guests of AAG. AAG is one of the largest youth-oriented sports and entertainment facilities in North America.

Arizona Athletic Grounds at Mesa Campus (“AAG”)

Locally, Daphne from Arizona said, “For two years we have been attending tournaments and this was by far the best operationally. New ownership has quickly added options for food and comfort stations that made this weekend the best we have seen. AAG has added lots of staff and a great garden party.”

Tim from Portland said, “Volleyball has been the cleanest and biggest of venues we have seen. My daughter is 12 and we will be excited to keep coming back. The DJ is fantastic and we wanted to hang out at Cornhole even after our event was complete.”

Sherrill from Alaska came to watch her granddaughter in a soccer tournament, “AAG is beautiful and the process of attending events was smooth.”

Separately, AAG hosted the Mesa Arizona Cup from February 20-25. Cale, Professional Pickleball Player from Oklahoma said,  “This facility stands out as the best among the six I’ve played at. Without a doubt, it offers unparalleled amenities. Each court provides seating and shade, a rare feature. The parking facilities are exceptional, and if there’s another event here, I’ll definitely return.”

The Mesa facility serves over 4,000,000 visits per year, providing youth and adult athletic and special events programming. The website www.azgrounds.com / @azgrounds are the new landing pages for information. For additional information on rentals, sponsorship, or event programming at AAG, please reach out to the AAG team.

SOURCE Arizona Athletic Grounds

Continue Reading



Oak View Group and Invited also enter strategic partnership
focused on membership benefits and experiences



DENVER /PRNewswire/ — Marking another strategic addition to the company’s premium experience platform, Oak View Group (OVG), the global leader in live experience venue development, venue management, premium hospitality and 360 venue solutions, today announced the acquisition of the Stadium Club division from Invited, the leading owner-operator of private golf, country and city clubs in North America.

As part of the transaction, Oak View Group will own and operate Stadium Club properties at prestigious universities across the country and provide high-end premium experiences and curated member offerings. Management teams and employees will remain in their current roles at all clubs. In addition, Oak View Group and Invited have entered a long-term strategic partnership focused on enhanced membership benefits and uniquely curated experiences for both Invited and OVG club members.

Oak View Group has announced the acquisition of the Stadium Club division from Invited.

Stadium Club properties include:

  • Arizona Sands Club (Arizona Stadium – University of Arizona)
  • Baylor Club (McLane Stadium – Baylor University)
  • Ken Garff University Club (Rice-Eccles Stadium – University of Utah)
  • The Texas Tech Club (Jones AT&T Stadium – Texas Tech University)
  • University Club of Virginia Tech (Lane Stadium – Virginia Tech)
  • The Carolina Club (George Watts Hill Alumni Center – University of North Carolina)

“We are committed to advancing the expectation of a premium experience in venues across the world, and we look forward to welcoming Stadium Clubs and their members into the Oak View Group family,” said Chris Granger, President, OVG360. “We are excited to develop and grow the Stadium Clubs with unique experiences, gracious hospitality and imaginative offerings gleaned from our extensive experience of our own venues and that of our roster of stadiums, arenas, theatres, convention centers and more worldwide. We also look forward to working with our partners at Invited on creating the ultimate membership experience platform for all those in the Invited and OVG families.”

“Invited’s University Stadium Club division has been a source of great pride for the company and through the years we’ve cherished the opportunity to provide an exceptional experience for our members, their families and friends. After many discussions and to ensure a strong and viable future, we’ve decided to sell the stadium club line of business to Oak View Group. Together, we will ensure a seamless transition and Invited will stay involved by partnering on offerings in the future,” said Invited CEO David Pillsbury.

This strategic move expands Oak View Group’s sports venues and commitment to transforming the culinary experience within premium hospitality and live experiences. Last year, Oak View Group acquired Rhubarb Hospitality Collection, an international luxury catering and hospitality provider and partnered with Wally’s Wine & Spirits entrepreneur and wine expert Christian Navarro to curate the gourmet food and beverage experience at OVG venues and launch navarroswine.com with other expansion plans to be announced soon.

The acquisition comes at a time when the entertainment landscape is evolving and Oak View Group remains at the forefront, setting new standards for excellence. Stadium Clubs, known for their premium amenities and exclusive offerings, provides members with game-day experiences along with serving as a premier business and social club and gathering space for the Universities and surrounding community throughout the year. Club members will enjoy increased benefits and access to Oak View Group venue events.

About Oak View Group (OVG)
Oak View Group (OVG) is a global sports and entertainment company founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff in 2015. OVG’s mission is to be a positive disruption to business as usual in the sports, live entertainment, and hospitality industries. OVG is world-renowned as the leading full-service live entertainment and hospitality group, with 10 major new arenas either open or under development including: Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center; UBS Arena in Belmont Park, NY; Moody Center in Austin, TX; Acrisure Arena in Greater Palm Springs, CA; and CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, MD; as well as arena development projects for Co-op Live in Manchester, UK;  Anhembi Arena in São Paulo, Brazil; FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, ON; a New Arena and entertainment district in Las Vegas, NV; and a New Arena in Cardiff, Wales. OVG360 is a full-service venue management, hospitality solutions, and venue services company servicing more than 400 arenas, stadiums, performing arts centers, culture institutions, and convention centers world-wide. More information at OakViewGroup.com, and follow OVG on FacebookInstagramX, and LinkedIn

About Invited
Since its founding in 1957, Dallas-based Invited has operated with the central purpose of Building Relationships and Enriching Lives®. The leading owner-operator of private golf and country clubs, and city clubs in North America, Invited is relentless in its pursuit of providing extraordinary experiences, meaningful connections, shared passions, and memorable moments for its nearly 400,000 members. With approximately 20,000 peak-season employees and a portfolio of 170 owned golf and country clubs, city clubs, sports clubs, and stadium clubs in 28 states, Invited creates communities and a lifestyle through its championship golf courses, workspaces, handcrafted cuisine, resort-style pools, tennis and pickleball facilities, golf lounges, fitness centers, and robust programming.

Marquee Invited properties include Firestone Country Club (Akron, Ohio); Mission Hills Country Club (Rancho Mirage, California); The Woodlands Country Club (Houston, Texas); and The Metropolitan Club (Chicago, Illinois).

SOURCE Oak View Group

Continue Reading

actors & performers

Remembering Richard Lewis: The Prince of Pain

In memory of Richard Lewis, the Prince of Pain: a comedic maestro known for his neurotic humor and iconic roles. His legacy of laughter and wit will forever resonate in the hearts of fans worldwide. Rest in peace, Richard Lewis.



In the realm of comedy, Richard Lewis stood out as a maestro of neurotic humor, captivating audiences with his frantic, stream-of-consciousness diatribes while clad in his signature all-black attire. Known affectionately as “The Prince of Pain,” Lewis carved a niche for himself in the comedy world, leaving a lasting impact on all who experienced his unique brand of humor.

From AP’s archives: Richard Lewis on working with longtime friend Larry David. The comedian known for his neurotic, stream-of-consciousness act and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” role died Wednesday. He was 76.

With great sorrow, the comedy world bids farewell to this legendary figure as news of his passing at the age of 76 reverberates through the entertainment industry. Lewis, who courageously disclosed his battle with Parkinson’s disease in 2023, passed away at his Los Angeles residence following a heart attack, as confirmed by his publicist Jeff Abraham.

Throughout his illustrious career, Lewis graced comedy clubs and late-night TV shows with his unmistakable presence, enchanting audiences with his quirky humor and endearing vulnerability. His roles as Marty Gold in “Anything But Love” alongside Jamie Lee Curtis and as the neurotic Prince John in “Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men In Tights” showcased his versatility and comedic prowess.

A true comedic icon, Lewis endeared himself to a new generation through his role opposite Larry David in the acclaimed series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” where he continued to enthrall audiences with his relatable kvetching and sharp wit.

In the words of Richard Lewis himself, “I’m paranoid about everything in my life. Even at home. On my stationary bike, I have a rear-view mirror, which I’m not thrilled about.” His humor was a reflection of his unique perspective on life, filled with wit, charm, and a touch of melancholy.

As we reflect on the legacy of Richard Lewis, we remember a comedic genius who fearlessly bared his soul on stage, leaving audiences in stitches with his hilarious anecdotes and self-deprecating humor. His witticisms and comedic brilliance will forever be etched in the annals of comedy history, ensuring that the Prince of Pain’s legacy lives on in the hearts of all who had the pleasure of experiencing his comedic genius.

Rest in peace, Richard Lewis. Your laughter will echo through eternity, and your memory will forever be cherished by comedy enthusiasts worldwide.

Source: Associated Press



Continue Reading