Fox Audience Strategy today announced that writer Ester Lou Weithers has been selected as this year’s FOX Writers Intensive (FWI) Fellow. Chosen from the fifth annual group of FWI finalists, Weithers has received a script development deal with FOX Broadcasting Company (FOX) and Twentieth Century FOX Television.
Launched in 2011, FWI is an advanced initiative designed to nurture experienced writers who have diverse voices, backgrounds and life experiences, and create a strong pipeline of well-rounded talent for potential staffing on FOX television shows, films and other FOX Entertainment projects.
The FWI finalists spend four months participating in a rigorous curriculum, administered by FWI partner Film Independent, which focuses on honing their craft and establishing deeper creative connections across Fox’s television, film and other entertainment businesses. This year’s program featured collaborative sessions with producer Glen Mazzara, senior executives from FOX, Twentieth Century FOX Television and FX Networks, as well as managers and agents.
Passionate about storytelling from an early age, Weithers worked at MTV in New York before relocating to Los Angeles to embark on her writing career. She first was an assistant in the writers room of “House of Lies” and in 2015, co-created and directed the web series, “Sexless” and “Chef Julian” for Black & Sexy TV.
Weithers’ script, “Sparrow,” resulted in her being named this year’s FWI Fellow.
In addition to Weithers, the 2016 FWI class included Peter Chen, Jamila Daniel, Jasmine Elist and Ben Shalom Rodriguez, Julia Fontana, Ahmadu Garba, Leon Hendrix, Tricia (TJ) Johnson, Ann Kim, Jorge Rivera, Jamie Rosengard and Jake Zebede. Following their completion of FWI, they each are being promoted throughout the FOX creative community and submitted for potential staffing on current and future FOX entertainment productions.
To date, six FWI finalists have been staffed on FOX dramas premiering in 2016-17. Additionally, several FWI alumni have been staffed, ranging from staff writer to co-producer, on a number of new and returning FOX series.
This year’s 12 FWI finalists were selected from a record 500-plus nominations submitted by talent representation, show runners and arts organizations across the country, including National Association of Latino Independent Producers, Sundance Institute, Athena Film Festival, Outfest, Film Independent, NAACP, Women in Film Los Angeles and the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment and Visual Communications.
As part of this year’s program, the FWI finalists also mentored Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school students who participate in the Young Storytellers “Script to Stage,” a semester-long program in which students write their own original short scripts that are performed live by professional actors.