Earlier today, we released our fourth annual Young & Hungry list, tracking the best and brightest new writers primed to make their mark on the entertainment industry. And taking a look at the list, it’s become clearer than ever that today’s young writers are diversifying — in their output and in their career paths.
Last year, we wrote about the new trend for young writers to write for both film and television. The trend has undoubtedly continued. Of the 100 writers and writing teams on this year’s list, 38 write for television, and hardly any of them do so exclusively. As scripted television continues to expand both in prestige and in quantity (Cinemax, Bravo, and TV Land have all begun dipping their toes into scripted content in the last few years, to say nothing of digital providers), it provides numerous opportunities for young writers to break out and make a name for themselves, without necessarily limiting their career to only making television. And more and more filmmakers are turning to television, as well; witness, for example, Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick.
It’s also worth noting that while many Y&H writers go on to big things in film (check out our lookback posts for examples), last year was a particularly good one for TV. Three 2013 Y&H writers have since made inroads into television: Vera Herbert sold a pilot to NBC; Mickey Fisher sold Extant to CBS, which went on to star Halle Berry, and recently earned a second season; and Nic Pizzolatto created True Detective, which needs no explanation. It’s understandable why today’s young writers are broadening their horizons.
And it’s not just where the writers are going that’s changing; this year’s writers also show remarkable diversity in where they’ve come from. On this year’s list there are four playwrights, two journalists, and two scientists. Writers have made their way onto the 2014 list after starting out (and in some cases, continuing as) advertisers, actors, comedians, novelists, and game designers. If ever there were evidence that there’s no one set path to success in screenwriting, it’s this year’s list.
Also promising is the diversity of the writers themselves. Of this year’s 117 total writers, 30 were women — the highest both by percentage and in absolute terms of any list so far. And tellingly, of the 10 writers and writing teams we highlighted in our 2013 lookback, three were women, meaning that women are both making it onto the Y&H list and continuing to grow in their careers. These are indicators that more women are making it into the industry — and, hopefully, that the numbers for next year’s list will be even higher.
These are the writers who will go on to big things, the ones whose names you’re going to know, in ten years or five years or even one year. And we’re not the only ones saying it; 2012 Y&H scribe Zak Olkewicz, for instance, went on to make the Hit List, the Blood List, and the Black List in the same year. This year’s writers are similarly primed to take off. In the time since we finalized the 2014 list, four of our writers have set up new projects: the Nicholl Fellowship finalist Road to Oz from Josh Golden went to New Line, as did the spec North of Reno from Banipal Ablakhad and Benhur Ablakhad, and just this week, David Reed signed on to co-write Modern Gothic for CBS, with Adam Karp.
And they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Among the other Y&H writers is Kristina Anderson, whose spec Catherine the Great generated major attention before selling to Atlas Entertainment. And at around the same time, Warner Bros. hired her to adapt the YA fantasy/romance Invisibility from authors Andrea Cremer and David Levithan.
Or there’s Michael Vukadinovich. He’s sold a spec (The Three Misfortunes of Gepetto) to Fox and 21 Laps, and now Seth Gordon is attached to direct. After that, Disney hired him to work on their Wind in the Willows adaptation Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Reel FX tapped him for their take on The Nutcracker, with Dan Dubiecki producing.
With so many accomplishments already under their belts, it’s hard to believe these writers are going anywhere but up. We wish all this year’s Young & Hungry writers the best, and look forward to seeing what they come up with next.