CAPE Unveils 2022 Class Of New Writers Fellowship Program, Celebrating A Decade Of Bolstering AAPI Representation

The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) celebrates the tenth anniversary of their New Writers Fellowship Program by ushering in a class of seven writers.

The New Writers Fellowship Program is a non-studio professional development program that trains emerging writers to succeed in Hollywood. The program boasts a reputable track record, placing graduates on over 50 shows across all major network, cable and streaming platforms in addition to those who have signed overall deals.

“In CAPE’s research survey with the Geena Davis Institute, nearly 90 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander entertainment professionals we surveyed said they were often the only Asian or Pacific Islander person in the room,” said Michelle K. Sugihara, Executive Director of CAPE. “That ultimately reflects what we see on screen and if we want to change the stories Hollywood tells, it starts with writers.”

The 2022 CAPE fellows join a distinguished alumni network including April Shih (Dave), Julie Wong (Grey’s Anatomy), Kevin Lau (House Of The Dragon), Lauren Moon (Silk), Helen Shang (The Lord Of The Rings), Franklin Jin Rho (Pachinko) and many others.

The program is co-chaired by co-founders Steve Tao (SVP, Current Programming, The CW) and Leo Chu (Showrunner/Executive Producer, Ultra Violet & Black Scorpion, Afro Samurai). The 2022 class, which features all television writers, will participate in two months of virtual sessions including master lasses, panels, workshops, table reads, as well as work with one-on-one script mentoring.

“The CAPE New Writers Fellowship has become what we always aspired it to be. Now in its tenth year, the CNWF has become the most recognized Hollywood writing program outside of the studio writing programs,” Tao said.

“I’m overjoyed that writers whose careers we launched over the past ten years are not only staffing on shows, but now becoming showrunners and even returning as mentors to the fellowship,” Chu added. “There is still, however, more work to be done, and I look forward to shaping our new class of emerging writers.”

The biographies of 2022 CAPE New Writers Fellowship participants are as follows: 

Kirk Damato | Mentored by Rene Gube (Co-Executive Producer, Superstore

Kirk Damato is a Filipino American writer who’s best known as the co-creator of CAKEY! THE CAKE FROM OUTER SPACE, in which he also puppeteered the title character. You might recognize him from BuzzFeed, Funimation, or as a recurring panelist on CollegeHumor’s nerd trivia show UM, ACTUALLY. Previously, Kirk performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, taught musical improv at the Magnet Theater, and trained in puppetry with The Jim Henson Company. A native Floridian, Kirk lives in Los Angeles with a quiet bunny and two loud guinea pigs.

Sandra Hamada | Mentored by Monica Macer (Showrunner/Executive Producer, Queen Sugar)

Sandra Hamada is a Japanese Mexican American writer from Los Angeles who loves to tell coming-of-age stories. Most recently, she was a writers’ assistant on Disney Channel’s Latinx superhero show, Ultra Violet & Black Scorpion, where she wrote her first episode of television. After earning her B.A. from Pomona College, Sandra worked as a community organizer and political speechwriter, where she used the power of storytelling to help students and families reallocate millions of dollars to Los Angeles’s most underfunded schools. In 2019, her pilot “Lucha Lopez: Illegal Alien” won 1st place in the UCLA Television Writing Competition. She is repped by Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment. 

Liz Fields | Mentored by Veena Sud (Showrunner/Executive Producer, The Killing)

Liz Fields is an Asian-Australian-American writer and filmmaker who draws inspiration for her socially relevant dramas and thrillers from the stranger-than-fiction situations she’s encountered as an award-winning journalist. Liz previously worked at VICE, where she interviewed everyone from drug dealers and priests to insurgent groups and celebrities; and somehow survived the 2016 elections as a campaign embed. She has since written and produced content for HBO, Netflix, Hulu, PBS, and more. Her pilot scripts have also received finalist laurels from multiple screenwriting contests, including the Austin and Atlanta film festivals.

Sowmya Ashokkumar | Mentored by Sunil Nayar (Showrunner/Executive Producer, Revenge)

Sowmya is an LA-based playwright, screenwriter, and educator. Her work centers women of color, queer folk, and immigrants in narratives about healing and finding joy after loss and grief. As a playwright, Sowmya has been a semifinalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and a finalist for the 44th Bay Area Playwrights Festival. She is a member of EST/LA’s NewWest Playwrights Group, IAMA’s Under 30 Lab, and is a 2022 CAPE New Writers Fellow. She loves food competition shows, video chatting with her niece, and using those years of vocal training to sing in her car.

Kat Jiang | Mentored by Julie Wong (Supervising Producer, Grey’s Anatomy)

Kat Jiang is a Chinese American writer from the Boston area, where her early education was heavy on the Revolutionary War and light on classmates of color. She writes dramas and dramedies about first- and second-generation teens and young adults, with an emphasis on immigrant family dynamics, optimistic queer romance, and mental health in non-white communities. Kat was a Nickelodeon Writing Program finalist in 2016 and has sold one never-to-be-made pilot. She is repped by Culture Creative Entertainment.

Kiran Alamelu Subramaniam | Mentored by April Shih (Co-Executive Producer, Fargo)Kiran Alamelu Subramaniam is an Indian American raised in Cary, North Carolina. After graduating from Meredith College in Raleigh, she went to D.C. for the Kennedy Playwright Fellowship. Kiran soon moved to Los Angeles and worked as a Hollywood assistant while studying improv, writing, and performing. Her work has been placed in various competitions and she is currently employed as a Showrunner’s Assistant on the Starz drama Hightown.

Matthew Dekneef | Mentored by Kyle Harimoto (Executive Producer, NCIS: Los Angeles)

Matthew Dekneef is a Native Hawaiian writer from Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. He attended Kamehameha Schools, and is a graduate of Chapman University. As a journalist, he has served as the editor of FLUX Hawaii, a Pacific Islander-focused arts and culture magazine, and Lei, a platform for LGBTQ travelers. Most recently, he was a 2021 Susan M. Haas Fellow. He is repped by 3 Arts.

This year’s Fellowship Speakers include: Miranda Kwok (Showrunner/Executive Producer, The Cleaning Lady), Eric Kim (EVP, Current, CBS), Conrad Sun (Agent, Meridian Artists), Alex Tse (Showrunner/Executive Producer, Wu-Tang: An American Saga), Shawn Parikh (Writer, Night Court) and more. Dana Ledoux Miller, who is the co-showrunner for Netflix’s untitled Thai Cave Rescue series, will also lead a mock writers room for the new class of fellows.

Comcast NBCUniversal, The Walt Disney Company, Netflix, Sony, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Film Independent, Final Draft, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and The Black List return as Fellowship Partners.

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