EXCLUSIVE: Showrunner Tanya Saracho and UCP (a division of Universal Studio Group) have selected 5 inaugural fellows for the Ojalá Ignition Lab: Diana Peralta, Luca Rojas, Melba Silwany, Samantha Renee Cordero, and Stephanie Adams-Santos.
Over the course of 26-weeks—beginning Jan. 10—, each fellow will have the opportunity to tell the story they want to tell and develop an original, polished television pilot script from start to finish, which will be commissioned by UCP.
The fellows will gather virtually on a weekly basis to share and receive constructive feedback on each other’s material, as well as receive support and feedback from Ojalá and UCP executives. They’ll also attend monthly speaker panels to gain industry insight from showrunners and producers. Upon completion of the Lab, fellows will have an amplified professional profile and meaningful industry peers and allies to help cultivate exciting collaborations and opportunities long into the future.
“I am extremely proud to announce our inaugural fellows, and to have these incredibly talented Latine storytellers form the first assembly of the Ojalá Ignition Lab,” Saracho said. “Along with bestowing them with a culturally safe space to empower and amplify their original voices, this incubator provides the recipients with financial compensation to develop their project as well as other resources that will aid in their success in substantial and tangible ways. I’m incredibly honored to be able to impart this opportunity, in partnership with UCP and my Ojalá team, to cultivate the next generation of Latine creators.”
Honorable mention go out to the 20 finalists: Shireen Alihaji, Kristen Joy Bjorge, Francisco Cabrera-Feo, Nicole Clark, Carmen Corral, Bernardo Cubria, Chase Doggett, Alexis Gambis, Gabriela Lugo, Ernesto Javier Martinez, Jorge Molina, Sarah Neal, Christina Nieves, C. Quintana, Xochitl Romero, Aminah Mae Safi, Angel Salinas, Tamara Shogaolu, Kara Uranga, and Mara Vélez Meléndez.
Learn more about the 5 fellows selected below:
Diana Peralta is a director, writer, and producer whose debut feature film, De Lo Mio (HBO), was picked up for distribution by HBO in 2020. She currently teaches directing at Columbia University’s Film MFA program and is working on her second feature film.
Luca Rojas tends to write dramedies and thrillers, often concerning familial dysfunction, or death, or race, or a combination of all three… and almost always populated by diverse human beings with rich interior lives and vivid imaginations. He currently works as the script coordinator, executive producers’ assistant, and writers’ assistant on Al Gough & Miles Millar’s Wednesday (Netflix & MGM), directed by Tim Burton.
Melba Silwany uses her experience in writer’s rooms and time on set to help shape her goals for extending Latinx and POC voices onto the screen. She dedicates her work to finding comfort in sexuality, complexities of religion, LGBTQ+ awareness, her relationships with the women in her life, and how being Latinx has shaped her experience in the United States. She is currently doing stand-up all throughout NYC.
Samantha Renee Cordero is a former child actress who worked as Development Coordinator at The CW and is currently the Showrunner’s Assistant to Annabel Oakes on Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies for Paramount Television. She writes grounded dramedies centered around women who are driven to succeed against all odds.
Stephanie Adams-Santos is a writer and artist whose work spans poetry, prose, screenwriting, and other swampy, hybrid forms. Her work is rooted in the crossroads of ritual, ancestry, and the environment — always with a penchant for the weird, queer, and uncanny. She’s written multiple episodes over three seasons of Two Sentence Horror Stories for the CW and Netflix.