Second Annual Native American Writers Seminar Announces 2022 Fellows

Native American Media Coalitionin partnership with Cherokee Nation Film Office And Warner Bros, Discovery Accessannounced the selected fellows for the 2nd Annual Native American Writers Symposium.

“We are proud to expand this incredible program to ten new brilliant Native American writers,” said Cara Jade Myers, Native American Media Alliance’s director of outreach. “The seminar provides a great access point to our growing development pipeline and will provide our writers with new opportunities to advance in their writing careers.”

The Native American Writers Seminar is a month-long intensive one that develops emerging writers who are new to writing for film and television. The initiative provides new access for Native Americans interested in entering writing for film and television.

All participants selected for the seminar will workshop an existing script with creative executives from Skydance Media and Powderkeg Media, as well as established writers on current series from CBS, ABC and HBOMAX. The program offers intensive development-workshops and is accompanied by rigorous writing sessions.

“Our film office is proud to continue working with great organizations like NAMA and Warner Bros.,” said Jennifer Lauren, director of Cherokee-Key Nation Film Office and Originals, on the theme. I am excited to welcome each and every partner.”

In addition, the symposium will provide representatives of prestigious fellowships and past participants of Native American Media Alliance writing programs. These speakers will share information about career growth, professional development and new opportunities for writing.

Second Annual Native American Writers Symposium Group:

Rory Crittenden (Cherokee) is a filmmaker from the Peavine community of the Cherokee-Key Nation. He is a writer, director, and Heartland Emmy-winning producer. From 2018 to 2021, Rory produced stories for four seasons of his clan’s documentary television-Zion program Osio, Voice of the Cherokee People. He currently works as a freelance filmmaker, helping to create content for various Native American governments, television programs, and community organizations. Rory lives in Tulsa with his wife Christie and their two children.

Jeena East (Iletta Pueblo) is a writer and film producer based in Los Angeles. Her most frequent writing and directing project was the short film, In the Witching House, which premiered at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival. His theater background and dance skills informed his unique artistry, directing original rock operas, Orpheus: A Season in Hello, She is currently finishing the screenplay, What the Crows Saw, which explores the impact of family separation due to the Indian Adoption Project. His storytelling often focuses on broad themes distilled to a single character’s experience. She is the mother of two teenage daughters who are getting ready to leave the nest.

Joshua Emerson (Navajo) is a comedian, writer, and actor based in Denver, Colorado. He is a founding member of the award-winning comedy troupe and production company, Dead-Room Comedy. Comedy shows that Joshua builds through Deadroom include comedy’Colorado Native,’ a Native American comedy showcase, and ‘dead inside,’ Winner of the Denver Fringe Festival Audience Choice Award for Best Comedy Show. In 2021, Joshua, along with the rest of the Deadroom comedy, produced a weekly video sketch for the entire year. All fifty-two sketches can be found on DeadRooms YouTube. Joshua performs stand-up for audiences around the country, including at the Four Corners Comedy Festival, the Savage Henry Comedy Festival, the Black Hills Comedy Festival and his home club, Comedy Works in downtown Denver. Joshua has a degree in economics from Fort Lewis College and serves as co-chair of the Denver American Indian Commission for the City of Denver. He lives at home with his partner Rachel and their dog Lola.

Michelle Hernandez (Wyott) is a Native American and Latina filmmaker. She grew up in Table Bluff Reservation, where she found her love for filmmaking. He holds a Masters in Film and Electronic Media at American University in Washington, DC, and a BA in both Film and Native American Studies at Humboldt State. Much of his work focuses on the importance of culture, traditions and identity, as well as dealing with indigenous themes. With her work, she gives voice to stories that often don’t get heard. She is the co-founder of Sugarbush Hill Productions, which she currently runs with her partner, Richie Wenzler. His latest works include Douc and The Barto Project.

Kyle Leonard (Navajo) has worked as an independent producer with ABC/Disney and Fox Studios, creating projects for their respective diversity divisions. He produced eight different short productions with various works for the studio. The largest of these films produced by Kyle was for ABC, which featured a full Union crew and was shot on Panavision cameras with Fujifilm short ends. He began writing and deciding his own screenplay and completed a short production of the film Three Bullets. Kyle focused on his writing from this moment on and received some praise. In addition to making the 20th percentile of the Nicole Fellowship, Kyle was a finalist in two screenwriting competitions. He also began working on a development project with a producer from Oscar-winning Benaroya Pictures. This opportunity inspired him to work on a well-known producer’s treatment at Tomorrow Films. Kyle is originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, but lives in Los Angeles and New York City. When he is not writing, Kyle enjoys watching baseball and football. Maître d’ is his first novel and stems from his time working at The Mark Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side. Knuckleball, the screenplay presented, is a journey of his favorite genre: noir.

Vanessa Lilly (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) is the best-selling author of the first thriller, Little Voices, which received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal as well as must-read lists in Real Simple, Refinery29 and Cosmopolitan UK, and was ranked One of these was named. Best Debut Thriller by Bolo Books. His second thriller, For the Best, was featured in the Boston Globe, Providence Journal, and was an Amazon bestseller. He produced and co-wrote the best-selling Audible Original Young Rich Widow, a campy and fun number one.First Wives Club With Murder” series 1985 set in Providence, Rhode Island. Originally from Miami, Oklahoma, she lives in Providence with her husband and lazy son. She is working on an adaptation of her next novel, which will launch a new crime fiction series focusing on the stories of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Lily is a board member of Sisters in Crime and wrote a weekly column for the Providence Journal about her experiences during the first year of the pandemic. She hosts a weekly Instagram Live show ‘Twice the Night Before Book Launch’ where she chats with authors the night before their book is out in the world.

Stephen Perez (Federated Indians of Grattan Rancheria) Stephen Perez is a Native American, Latino filmmaker based in Petaluma, California. His small videography business keeps him busy while his film production group, Flat Quack Films, keeps him busy. Stephen’s original plan to become an actor came to an end when he discovered the power of filmmaking during an acting class assignment in high school. Audience reception for his first short film about an action hero homeless man teaming up with a prostitute to eliminate the mafia was overwhelmingly positive. The school administration was less than enthusiastic about the film and banned it from running in the school film festival. However, the experience didn’t stop Stephen from exploring a whole new world other than just acting. Stephen’s fascination with comedy writing and filmmaking was enough to start a life of endless toil in the editing rooms and sleepless nights on set for years to come. Stephen’s comedic writing style is influenced by the ridiculous wit of Mel Brooks and the exuberance of John Waters, all wrapped together in a proudly low-budget style. The indigenous history of storytelling is something that Stephen is very proud of. For those whose history is full of tragedy, Stephen believes that the only way to grow as a culture is to expand into humor as well.

Sydney Leigh Solijo (Mashpee Wampanoag) is a descendant of the tribe that first discovered the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Sidney wrote his first screenplay “Vince and Guy” as a result of a tragic event that disrupted the lives of Native Americans in Mashpee. “Vince & Guy” gained their acceptance at the American Film Institute (AFI), where they were awarded the First American in the Arts Scholarship and eventually accepted into the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. At Sundance, Sidney was mentored by Hollywood’s leading talented screenwriters and creative advisors, including Academy Award nominee Stewart Stern, who wrote “Rebel Without a Cause”. She would later serve as story advisor and interviewer on Stern’s life and career.

Steven Tallas (Navajo) Steven Tallas is an award-winning filmmaker best known for his feature film debut, 2019’s Rage Dogs. Growing up, Steven wanted nothing more than to see someone like him act in the movies he loved the most. Because of his love for storytelling and cinema, it is no surprise that he found his calling in filmmaking. He began making films as a teen, learning from online resources and his experiences as an extra on film sets in New Mexico and Arizona. Along with his passion for sharing his heritage, Steven uses filmmaking to create opportunities for an appropriate representation of the Navajo Nation in the arts and media. Their goal is to share the stories and histories of Native Americans that Hollywood has often overlooked. Through his work, Steven also hopes to create films with messages and characters that the younger generation can identify with, films that he hopes will make his youth proud. Visit to learn more about his projects today.

riana yazi (Navajo) Rianna Yazzi is a 2021 Lanford Wilson and 2020 Steinberg Prize-winning playwright, a director, a filmmaker and artistic director of New Native Theatre, which she started in 2009 as a response to a lack of connections and pro-professional opportunities was. Between the Twin Cities Theater and the Native Community. A Navajo Nation citizen (Tanizhani Bashishchin do Tachi’ni Dashinali), he has seen his plays on stages from Alaska to Mexico, including Carnegie Hall’s American Indian Community House and in collaboration with the Eagle Project. She has a new co-commissioned play in the works with Long Wharf Theater and Rattlestick Theater and is currently working on her latest play, Nancy, an original bio-perspective on Nancy Reagan, the sequel to Queen Cleopatre and Princess Pocahontas (commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare). Developing link. Festival and Public Theatre). His first feature film, A Winter Love, (writer/dir/product/actor) will premiere at festivals in 2021/22. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Masters in Professional Writing, where she produced programs featuring Stephen Hawking, Herbie Hancock and Spalding Gray. Riyana is working on her second feature film. Wonspe Vankatya: A College EducationThe project in development was invited to the 2021 Sundance Producers Summit and won the 2021/22 Jerome Foundation’s Production Grant.

The Native American Media Alliance (NAMA) advocates for Native American representation in the entertainment industry. The initiative serves as a resource for industry personnel working with Native Americans who have an authentic voice for film, television, and new media. The Native American Media Alliance is a project of the Barcid Foundation; A non-profit organization that focuses on multimedia programming in Indigenous communities.

The mission of the Cherokee Nation Film Office is to increase the presence of Native Americans at every level of the film and television industries, while creating opportunities for economic growth and jobs in the Cherokee Nation.