Emmy award-winning screenwriter, producer, and actor Lena Waithe’s company, Hillman Grad Productions, recently announced its inaugural mentorship class of rising creatives.
And Chapman’s own Arjun Yadav made the final cut.
Arjun, an MFA Producing student, was selected as one of the top five producers for the executive development track out of a total of 4,500 applications. 25 individuals were accepted in total for tracks in writing, acting, and executive development.
The Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab strives to connect 25 selected individuals from marginalized communities with networking opportunities and resources to remove barriers to industry access and propel them into their careers in television and film.
The mentorship program is a 10-month, tuition-free fellowship, which will feature one-on-one instruction from industry experts, workshops set to enhance originality in generating narratives, and professional development to polish and broaden their creative skills.
“Mentorship has always been important to me. The hope is to populate the industry with people that otherwise wouldn’t have access to it,” said Waithe.
“We’re looking forward to meeting the next generation of storytellers.”
Recently, Waithe’s production company also partnered with the job listing company Indeed to provide adequate funding for up-and-coming BIPOC filmmakers.
Indeed will work in collaboration with Hillman Grad for the Rising Voices initiative, selecting 10 filmmakers to create short films with a production budget of $100,000 each. The budget, which Waithe calls “unheard of” for rising short film directors, includes an additional $25,000 which will be allocated to the productions to ensure COVID-19 safety measures are followed. Each filmmaker will also earn a $10,000 writing fee for their screenplay submissions.
The films will be produced by Hillman Grad in partnership with 271 Films. Waithe will work alongside Hillman Grad president of film/TV Rishi Rajani to act as executive producers and guide the filmmakers. At the conclusion of the program, one filmmaker will be offered a filmmaker-in-residency position at Indeed to continue to produce content with the brand.
Arjun recalled the elaborate application and interview process he had to go through to be accepted for the program.
“We had gone through a long interview which I was convinced I blew completely. And I was having sleepless nights over possibly missing out on such an incredible opportunity,” he said.
However, it was all worth it when he finally got the call that he had been selected.
He remembers how grateful he felt in that moment, and is most looking forward to getting to work directly with Rishi and his development team.
As a current production and development coordinator at Wayfarer Studios, Arjun is ready to continue to produce audacious and thought-provoking films with this opportunity.
“Through my stories, I want to spotlight grievances, triumphs and human experiences of the underrepresented, marginalized and diminished voices. And what better place to begin that journey than at Hillman Grad and Wayfarer Studios,” said Arjun.