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NBC's Late Night Writers Workshop Names 2020 Class

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The industry's longest-running initiative for diverse late night and sketch writers continues to give opportunities to emerging talent.

NBC's Late Night Writers Workshop Names 2020 Class

As part of NBC's long-running initiative to forge a path for diverse writers, NBC has named Brandon Burkhart, Gracie Canaan, Reem Edan, Kyle Harris, Emily Menez, Sam O and Kate Sisk as the new class of its annual Late Night Writers Workshop. Entering its eighth year, the Late Night Writers Workshop is the industry's longest-running program dedicated to discovering and developing late night and sketch comedy writers of diverse backgrounds.

Chosen out of a highly talented pool of 900 candidates,the new class participated in an intensive virtual five-day program that prepared them for staff writer roles on late night and sketch comedy shows.

Created in 2013, NBC's Late Night Writers Workshop has a proven track record of discovering and developing emerging late night and sketch comedy writers, and has become a successful pipeline for the network's programming. Alumni have gone on to become producers and writers on top late night and sketch comedy shows. Writers from last year's class were staffed on shows soon after completing the program: Mona Mira was staffed on "A Little Late with Lilly Singh" and Chloe Radcliffe joined "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." Additional alumni include Jenny Hagel ("Late Night with Seth Meyers," who also appears onscreen in the "Jokes Seth Can't Tell" segment), Eddie Mujica ("Connecting"), Greg Iwinski ("Last Week Tonight"), Kate Sidley ("The Late Show with Stephen Colbert") and Alison Tafel ("The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon").

"Over the past eight years, the Late Night Writers Workshop has made a significant impact on the late night and sketch comedy landscape. Many of our alumni now write for top shows across the industry, and we are confident this new class of talented writers will follow suit," said Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, Co-Presidents, Scripted Programming, NBC Entertainment. "The current seismic shift in our culture has illuminated how critical it is to include the lens of diverse people to provide cultural context to current events. These writers will enter the industry at a time where their voices are needed now more than ever."

To ensure the safety of the program participants and the NBCUniversal employees, this year's five-day Late Night Writers Workshop took place virtually. It was organized and facilitated by Grace Moss and Will Schnabel of NBC's Programming Talent Development and Inclusion team. The participants received an in-depth look at writing on late night and sketch comedy shows through virtual seminars and guest speakers. This year, the class heard from Katie Hockmeyer, Executive Vice President, Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment in addition to writers from top late night shows, including Chelsea Davison ("A Little Late with Lilly Singh"), Mark Kramer ("Last Week Tonight"), Amber Ruffin ("Late Night with Seth Meyers"), Naima Pearce ("Tooning Out the News") and writer-comedian Emily Winter. Program alumni - Jenny Hagel ("Late Night with Seth Meyers"), Jonathan Giles ("A Little Late with Lilly Singh"), Greg Iwinski ("Last Week Tonight"), Mona Mira ("A Little Late with Lilly Singh"), Chloe Radcliffe ("The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon") and Alison Tafel ("The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon") - also served as guest speakers.

Each session also consisted of writing instruction, insightful feedback and collaborative assignments that mirror the late night comedy writing experience. The writers ended the program with new sketch material and insight into the dynamics of a late night writers' room.

Following the program, NBC will continue to advocate for each of the program writers by putting them up for open staffing positions on the network's late night shows and helping them secure representation.

The 2020 class are:

BRANDON BURKHART
Burkhart is a Los Angeles-based Latinx comedy writer who hails from San Antonio, Texas. For the past three years, he's been head writer for the late night show "The Night Cap with Stacy Rumaker," which in pre-pandemic times ran monthly at the Virgil in East Hollywood. His sketches have been featured at Comedy Central Stage, San Francisco Sketchfest, Second City's LA Diversity in Comedy Festival and the Hollywood Fringe Festival. As a storyteller, he has won the Moth StorySLAM four times, including the Moth GrandSLAM. His sci-fi sitcom pilot "Mars Bar" won third place in the 2020 Cinequest Screenwriting Competition and is a Semi-Finalist in the 2020 PAGE Awards and a Top 100 Finalist in the 2020 Launch Pad Pilot Competition.

GRACIE CANAAN
Canaan is a stand-up comedian and writer living in New York. She has performed at notable festivals, including San Francisco Sketchfest and Laugh Your Asheville Off, and has written and produced sketches that have appeared on Funny or Die! and the Quickie Film Festival. Her work was chosen as an Official Selection in the Twister Alley Film Festival and her original half-hour sitcom "Booties" received the Just4Shorts Best Television Script Award in May.

REEM EDAN
Edan is an Iraqi-American comedian, writer, actress and digital content creator known for her unique brand of "Muslim-ennial" humor. Since leaving a career in film marketing, she's performed at venues and colleges across the U.S., Europe and Middle East, and opened for comics including Iliza Schlesinger and Arsenio Hall. Edan is an alumni of the MGM Writing Program, a two-time Groundlings scholarship recipient, and has worked with brands such as WhoHaha (Elizabeth Banks) and SWAAY Media to elevate female stories. Credits include: Winner of the Fimmatic Comedy Screenplay Awards (2019) and the Create the Writer's Room challenge (2020), and recently being named one of Bustle's "5 Muslim Women Comedians to Get You Through Social Distancing." Edan is repped by Avalon Management and APA.

KYLE HARRIS
Boston native Harris is a writer and comedian based in Brooklyn, N.Y. He began stand-up and sketch comedy in Philadelphia where he performed in a local Comedy Central Showcase and opened for Chris Redd ("Saturday NightLive"). He moved to New York in 2019 where he would go on to write for NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me," perform in the NY Comedy Festival, and put on character performances at Brooklyn Comedy Collective. Harris has also written for various satire publications, including Flexx Mag and The Onion.

EMILY MENEZ
Menez began her career as a script intern for season 38 of "Saturday Night Live." She has since gone on to write for IFC, Funny or Die and CBS. Menez trained at the Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade. Her original plays and sketch shows have been staged throughout NYC, including "Margene Salt,"which was performed at the Duke Theater. Menez has appeared on "Rachael Ray"and "The Doctors"to discuss nachos and coffee, respectively. She hails from Overland Park, Kansas, which is the best part of the Midwest.

SAM O
O is a writer-comedian born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in California. O's scripts have been recognized by the Academy Nicholl Fellowship, Austin Film Festival, and Launch Pad. O has written on Maude Night at the UCB Theater in Los Angeles, and created and starred in the music festival parody show, Flayme Fest. O is part of the Asian-American comedy collective, Asian AF, and has performed at SF Sketchfest, Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, and the Comedy Central Stage. O identifies as queer, Korean and a California gurl.

KATE SISK
Sisk is a Massachusetts-born comic and writer. After competing with the Puerto Rico National Soccer Team in 2014-15, Sisk moved to New York City and began improvising at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. As a comic, Sisk is known for stand up about gender identity and life as a retired athlete, which has landed Sisk appearances in HBO's Women in Comedy Festival and the Finals of the Boston Comedy Festival. Sisk is also a contributing writer for various online satire publications. Sick is repped by Finer Entertainment Company, LLC.

NBC's Late Night Writers Workshop is the longest running annual initiative from an entertainment company dedicated to discovering and developing late night and sketch comedy writers of diverse backgrounds. Founded in 2013, the multi-day program focuses on exposing talented sketch and comedy writers to NBCUniversal's late night and alternative line-up and readying them for a staff writer position. The selected writers create new sketch material and gain insight into the dynamics of a late night writers' room, as well as receive feedback on their material. Writers also interact with key writers and producers from across NBCUniversal's late night and alternative shows.Alumni include Jenny Hagel ("Late Night with Seth Meyers" who also appears onscreen in the "Jokes Seth Can't Tell" segment), Jonathan Giles ("A Little Late with Lily Singh"), Greg Iwinski ("Last Week Tonight"), Mona Mira ("A Little Late with Lily Singh"), Eddie Mujica ("Connecting"), Chloe Radcliffe ("The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"), Kate Sidley ("The Late Show with Stephen Colbert") and Alison Tafel ("The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"). The Late Night Writers Workshop is one of the tentpole initiatives within the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS) that promote and encourage people of diverse backgrounds to become the next generation of storytellers. For more information, visitNBCUniTIPS.com.

Since 2000, NBC has been dedicated to discovering and nurturing on screen and behind-the-camera talent of diverse and inclusive backgrounds through the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS). NBC TIPS are amongst the most extensive and robust diversity and inclusion programs in the television industry. They feature more than 20 programs including Writers on the Verge, the Diverse Staff Writer Initiative, Female Forward, Emerging Director Program, Alternative Directors Program and the StandUp NBC nationwide search for stand-up comedians. Program alumni are celebrated producers, writers, directors and actors in the entertainment industry who have gone on to win Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG Awards and include Alan Yang, Mindy Kaling, Deon Cole, Lil Rel Howery, Keto Shimizu, Natasha Rothwell, Danny Pudi and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel. For more information, visit NBCUniTIPS.com.


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