Sunday, June 15, 2008

Diversity in your spec?

In the comments on my last post, reader Joseph asked:

How much diversity should their be in your spec? If any? Consider that's what these fellowships want?

Hmm. Interesting. To my knowledge -- and I didn't trudge through the fine print on each program's website, so don't hold me to this -- none of the fellowship programs ask for your spec to be "diverse." Whatever that means.

What they do say is that they are looking to "discover new voices and employ culturally and ethnically diverse writers." (Actually, Disney/ABC says this, but I think it holds for the other programs as well.) So rather than demanding that your writing handle themes of diversity, they want to see that you yourself are "diverse." Again: whatever that means.

But let's put aside for a second what the programs demand -- might it not help you to get into a program whose mission statement specifically calls for diversity if your writing sample reflects this?

I definitely think it couldn't hurt. Especially if, like many of us, none of the usual criteria for being "diverse" apply to you. Seems like it could be a nice (and hopefully subtle) way for Mr. Whitey McWhiteypants to answer that diversity question without reaching for something like... "Uh...I grew up poor/a Catholic in a Baptist neighborhood/with three nipples."

Though, to be fair, three nipples can be tough to overcome. Not that I would know -- I grew up poor, so my family could barely afford two nipples.

If you do decide to "diversify" your spec, please don't take my words as a reason to rebuild your entire story from the ground up and include a Caucasian Muslim and an African Shintoist -- unless, you know, you're writing a spec where somehow those two fit in nicely. Still, having "diversity" in your spec might be something to think about if you either haven't begun writing yet or have a spec with a mild "diverse" theme that could be pumped up a bit.

Or I could be wrong and something like this could backfire and offend. Who knows?

Either way, you're still going to have to write those super-fun essays about what makes you a beautiful and unique snowflake who loves TV more than breathing and will fundamentally change the medium with your brilliance.

Speaking of which...better get cracking on that...


Anonymous said...

Do you spend as much time querying/trying to meet agents as you do entering these contests?

Matt said...

What if you're a"white male"?

Even with a good spec, will you even get consideration?

Anonymous said...

no chance for consideration.

Josh said...

There's at least one white guy among this year's Fellows and there have been several others in the past.

The real question, if you go to the website and look at the bios, is whether you have a chance if you haven't already written/worked on a show.

I'm being slightly facetious, but almost everyone on that list was at least a writer's assistant before getting into the Fellowship, and many had already written on shows.

Josh said...

And to answer the original Anonymous question:

This is the second year we've actually had anything to send out. Last year was our Summer of Contests, largely because we thought it was at least SOMETHING good to put on query letters and such. This year, we only plan to enter the Fellowships because 1) by all accounts if you get in they are awesome at getting you work and 2) they're free.

Otherwise we're done with contests.

However, you asked if we spent as much time querying agents. The answer is no. We spend zero time querying agents, mostly because EVERYONE I talk to says it's basically pointless to query random agents you don't know. So what we DO spend our time on is making connections so that when we send our scripts to people they are actually read. Something that may pay off for us in the next few months, hopefully...

Anonymous said...

What you CAN do is query managers. They are generally hungrier for new voices and meet a lot of people through queries. For instance, a bunch of Chuck writers are repped at FUSE. That's a well-known company but not in the Principato-Young or Management 360 vein. What you should do is query one of the younger managers. If your e-mail is witty enough, you'll get a read for sure.