Breakthrough Artist Awards
Together with the TSC, Ben Watkins (Creator, HAND OF GOD) has developed a Pay-It-Forward community bursary initiative. Ben invites Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in the TV and film industries to submit applications for the Breakthrough Artist Awards. Ben is looking for creators who are looking to elevate their position in the industry, who do good work for their communities, and are serious about a career in the film & television industries to submit their work for consideration.
Five content creators will be awarded complimentary passes to attend the 2018 Toronto Screenwriting Conference (TSC) (June 23-24/2018). Award winners will join Ben Watkins for an intimate lunch and mentorship session over the conference weekend. Award winners will also have the opportunity to meet with agents from the Jennifer Hollyer Agency for some one-on-one time with one of Canada’s leading literary agencies.
About Ben Watkins
Creator/Showrunner, HAND OF GOD
Ben Watkins is a writer/filmmaker/actor from Berkeley, California. He started his career in Hollywood as an actor, playing the “mysterious” Dr. Wesley Carter on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. The transition to writing began in earnest with his award winning short film QUEST TO REF, which he wrote, co-directed and starred in. The film was an official Sundance Film Festival selection and won the American Black Film Festival. Soon after adapting that project into a feature screenplay for Universal, Watkins joined USA Network’s BURN NOTICE. He rose from Staff Writer to Executive Producer, before moving on to create the provocative Amazon Originals series, HAND OF GOD. Through his recently launched production banner, Blue Monday Productions, Watkins has projects in active development for AMC, USA and FX Networks among others. He strives to tell stories that change the way we view the world and ourselves.
Watkins actively supports community programs and people who are looking to improve issues around civil rights, public education and homelessness.
He resides in El Segundo, California. He and his wife, Kandi, have four sons.
Breakthrough Artist Award Winners
Jennifer is a Toronto-based writer and producer who studied at Act One film school in Hollywood, California. She was recently hired by a two-time Emmy winning director to write INTOLERANCE, a dramatic feature, scheduled to be released late 2018. Jennifer has written and produced several shorts, a digital series YouTube pilot and a Doritos spec commercial that appeared in a Doritos promotional video. Her most recent short, OPPORTUNE, is complete and ready for the film festival circuit.
Jennifer has written several original TV series pilots and is currently developing a dramatic, virtual reality short. She is excited about the growing inclusivity in the entertainment industry, and looks forward to a successful career in television and film. She is a member of Women in Film & Television Toronto (WIFT-T).
Jessica Meya is an emerging screenwriter and community leader based in Toronto, Ontario. She is the co-founder of Working the Scene in Colour, a diversity initiative organizing live reads of original scenes written by writers of colour. A graduate of Humber’s Television Writing and Producing program, Jessica’s agenda is to tell stories that feature characters not often seen and giving voice to diverse emerging talent. She began her writing career in Ottawa and wrote, produced, and cast her first short film, STILL, which screened at the historic ByTowne Cinema. She has worked on shorts, features, and web series projects as a production assistant and script supervisor. Currently, she works in broadcasting as a coordinator. Her creative interests include serialized dramas and tragic-comedies. Common themes in her writing include complicated family dynamics, complexities of contemporary life for people of colour, and identity.
Twitter Handle: @JessicaMeya
Kim Gonsalves loves rom coms, McDonald’s and Michael Fassbender so she’s basically Mindy Kaling – all she needs is a hit show – which she’s working on.
She’s been obsessed with TV pretty much since birth. She had a television in her bedroom growing up and would get scolded for watching Entertainment Tonight. But the joke was on her parents when Kim went on to work in celebrity journalism instead of the family business – medicine – which, trust, is better for everyone.
She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University and has worked mainly as a producer in news and entertainment.
Highlights include CNN, CBC and Entertainment Tonight Canada (yes, she was lucky enough to go worship at the mothership in LA!)
Kim’s always wanted to write scripted content. She’s excited about the show she and her writing partner are developing. She can’t wait for the day people can Netflix & Chill to it!
Michele Yeo is not Michelle Yeoh, the Malaysian actress once described as the “female Jackie Chan” so please don’t challenge her to a martial arts duel or ask her to recite lines from STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.
Michele IS, however, a Toronto-based writer/producer with a lifelong obsession for all things pop culture which she’s put to good use over the years, working for entertainment news outlets like MuchMusic, CBC, & Entertainment Tonight Canada. Notable career moments include writing & producing a documentary series profiling four of the world’s biggest film festivals for Movie Central and writing & producing a Canadian Screen Award-winning behind-the-scenes documentary for Global TV. And oh yeah, being held hostage in the skies by Rihanna.
Michele loves Prosecco and cats and is an unapologetic Kanye West apologist – a position that, admittedly, has become increasingly difficult in this, the year 2018. The struggle, as they say, is real.
Writer-Director Nathalie Younglai started in unscripted TV and became Director on shows about money, vanity and fame. A 2013 Telefilm New Voices Award winner, Nathalie has written for children’s television and was co-writer on the Korean-Canadian feature, STAND UP MAN (FIN Atlantic Film Festival). Nathalie worked on BELLEVUE (CBC) and had a legal drama series in development with eOne/Shaw.
An advocate for diversity, Nathalie founded BIPOC TV & Film in 2012 and recently co-produced a tuition-free BIPOC Kid’s TV Writing Bootcamp with Jay Vaidya and John May. Nathalie has mentored and spoken on panels for Reel Asian Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, Toronto Black Film Festival, and Women on Screen. She serves on the WGC Diversity Committee and is a recipient of the 2017 ACTRA Diversity’s Sandi Ross Award. Nathalie will be co-writing her first drama script on Coroner (CBC) with showrunner Morwyn Brebner.
Corey Liu is a children’s tv writer based in Toronto. He has written for shows like MYSTICONS, THE NEXT STEP, and DINO DANA. He also likes to do Maggie Smith impressions when no one is looking. He is doing one right now.