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Disney General Entertainment Content's Writing Program Celebrates Nearly 33 Years

David Renaud, co-executive producer of ABC’s “The Good Doctor” and an alumnus of the 2015 DGE Writing Program, spoke about his time with the program to celebrate.

Disney General Entertainment Content's (DGE) Writing Program celebrates 33 years as one of the entertainment industry's premiere initiatives for identifying and championing unique voices. The program has served as a launching pad for many established showrunners and producers TODAY and is now widely recognized as one of Hollywood's most successful television staff writer programs.

The program seeks to identify unique, authentic storytellers and has served as a springboard for underrepresented voices. David Renaud, co-executive producer of ABC's "The Good Doctor" and an alumnus of the 2015 DGE Writing Program, is a wheelchair user who practiced medicine before becoming a writer and initially found entryways into the entertainment business challenging.

He wrote for CBS' "Pure Genius" before joining the writing staff of "The Good Doctor," where he rose from executive story editor in season one to co-executive producer for the upcoming sixth season.

"The Disney Writing Program launched my television writing career," says Renaud. "The traditional routes into entertainment were closed for me. This program opened doors that weren't accessible and helped me secure my first staff writer job on ABC's 'Blood & Oil.'"

Established in 1990, the original Disney Writing Program (then known as the Walt Disney Studios Writing Fellowship) was a yearlong initiative to train and champion feature film writers from underrepresented groups. Over the past three decades, the program evolved to become an initiative that identifies, supports and staffs up-and-coming television writers.

The DGE Writing Program again evolved a few years ago to become the primary staff writer pipeline for all DGE's scripted television series and enjoys a nearly 100% annual staffing rate. The program was the first of its kind to provide salary and benefits to its participants prior to staffing; and, since 2021, any program writer who staffs on a DGE scripted series is compensated at WGA scale.

The DGE Writing Program is run by DGE's Creative Talent Development & Inclusion (CTDI) department.

"We continue to be proud of our flagship Writing Program, which is an integral part of our Company's inclusion strategy, and continue to be our scripted series' pipeline for discovering, championing and staffing writers," says Tim McNeal, SVP of Creative Talent Development & Inclusion. "We are grateful for the continuing support and partnership of our senior leaders, creative executive colleagues, producers and showrunners who are all helping accelerate our participants' careers and ensuring that inclusive talent is fostered at our Company."

In addition to Renaud, the DGE Writing Program has kickstarted the careers of many established and award-winning writers, producers and showrunners for hit shows including "Grey's Anatomy," "Little Fires Everywhere," "Godfather of Harlem," "Dave," "Power," "Snowfall" and more. It also was the starting point for show creators and co-creators such as Zahir McGhee ("Queens"), Saladin Patterson ("The Wonder Years" and "Dave"), Raamla Mohammed (the upcoming "Reasonable Doubt"), Peter Saji ("mixed-ish"), Veena Sud ("The Killing" and "Seven Seconds"), Jordan Cahan ("Black Monday"), Reggie Bythewood ("Shots Fired") and Erica Montolfo-Bura ("Zoe Ever After"); and showrunners Dailyn Rodriguez ("Queen of the South"), Anthony Sparks ("Queen Sugar"), Ayanna Floyd Davis ("The Chi") and Aseem Batra ("I Feel Bad"). The DGE Writing Program has been managed and run by Liz Kelly, senior manager of Creative Talent Development & Inclusion, for the past three years.

"Finding writers with fresh and unique perspectives is a priority for our show," says Erin Gunn, executive producer of "The Good Doctor." "Each season we look to the DGE Writing Program as a primary source for identifying those voices. We continue to be impressed with the candidates coming out of the program, many of whom we have hired and promoted."

The DGE Writing Program is currently accepting applications for its 2023 Writing Program from now until May 30, 2022.

Watch David Renaud discuss the program here:

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From This Author - Michael Major