One little program with so much impact: that's the Stephens Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting. Since its founding in 2016, the program has been proving its value to graduates, who have been earning prizes, joining writing and production staffs, and landing teaching jobs around the country.
Chelsea Andes ’17 is the associate producer for Foundry360, a video production advertising agency at Meredith in New York City. She has worked and volunteered at numerous film festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival, The New York Film Festival and DocNYC. Her screenplay “Daughter of Mab” made it to the semifinals of The Athena List, an annual slate of three to five screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films. “Daughter of Mab” also is a quarterfinalist in the Slamdance Screenplay Competition. With fellow MFA alumnae Betsy Leighton and Misty Brawner, Andes participated in a writers’ room to break an entire 12-episode web series as part of a partnership between Unreal Media and SeriesFest.
Amy Banks ’17 is an adjunct professor in the English department at Central Methodist University and at State Fair Community College. Banks also works as a creative consultant for Sesame Studios. She received an EMMY nomination for her writing a “Word of the Day” segment of Sesame Street that includes guest star Zahn Tokiya-ku McClarnon, lead actor in Dark Winds, Reservation Dogs, and Longmire.
Randi Barros ’20 is an award-winning screenwriter and film editor whose character-driven stories often focus on misfits, rebels, and unexpected moments of beauty. Her screenplay, THE CHICKEN FESTIVAL, is a Nicholl Fellowship semi finalist and is in development. In addition to Nicholl, Randi’s screenplays have been honored by the Writers Lab, CineStory, Final Draft Big Break, Athena, the Austin Film Festival, and more. Her short screenplay, YES, is a semifinalist for the Outstanding Short Screenplays competition, and she will be directing the film in early 2024. Recent editing credits include the feature documentary, HEAVEN STOOD STILL: THE INCARNATIONS OF WILLY DEVILLE, which is currently playing in theaters and festivals worldwide and TRUSTING CHLOE, a comedy short that won several awards and was nominated for Best Editing at the Paris Film Festival. She edited the multi award-winning PBS documentaries, LIVES WELL LIVED and BOTSO: THE TEACHER FROM TBILISI, a New York Times critics pick. Randi teaches film and storytelling at Cal Poly University, where she received the Learn by Doing Scholar Award in 2022. She attended the MFA Film Program at Columbia University and finished her MFA in TV and Screenwriting at Stephens College.
Julie Berkobien ’17 is research assistant to Cari Beauchamp and the Mary Pickford Foundation. Her pilot “Blythe Park” was a selected project at Stowe Story Lab 2018 and a quarterfinalist in the 2019 BlueCat Screenplay Competition.
Christine Clayburg (MFA candidate) won best screenplay in the military genre at the Las Vegas International Film and Screenwriting Competition, was named a semifinalist at the Women in Cinema International Screenwriting competition, quarterfinalist at Scriptapalooza, and received an honorable mention at Willifest.
Mikayla Daniels ’17 made it to the semifinals of The Athena List with her screenplay “Wingman Lost.” The list is an annual slate of three to five screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films. Daniels has been a regular contributor to netflixlife.com, covering series and film reviews and entertainment news. She was a judge for the “Best Screenplay” category for Happenstance Horror Festival, is screening films for Destiny City Film Festival in Tacoma, and judging films for Watersprite International Student Film Festival and Northwest Horror Festival. She also is a post-production video editor for the NBC affiliate KHQ and a writer and on-camera host for KSPS Saturday Night Cinema.
Rashaan Dozier-Escalante ’19 is on the writing staff of CBS drama "Seal Team" after having been selected for the CBS Writers Mentoring Program and the Producer Guild of America's Power of Diversity Master Workshop during her time in the Stephens MFA.
Elizabeth Dwyer ’17 was hired to write the pilot script for “Scarlett,” a new mob series, and was invited to attend the 2019 Stowe Story Lab and 2019 Sidewalk Narrative Lab. Her thesis project, the pilot script for “North Amerikay” has placed in the following contests: second rounder, Austin Film Festival, 2018; finalist, ISA Fast Track Fellowship, 2018; finalist, WeScreenplay Diverse Voices, 2018; semifinalist, Diverse Voices Fellowship to the Stow Story Lab, 2019.
Krista Dyson ’18 teaches digital media and TV production in the Palm Beach County School District and is co-producer of the independent documentary feature "When All That’s Left is Love." The film has been accepted to 20 film festivals so far and has won several awards on the festival circuit. Most notably, it was the opening night film at the inaugural Desertscape Film Festival, won Best Overall Feature at Longleaf Film Festival, and screened at the American Psychological Association Film Festival.
Cara Epstein ’18 won an Athena Writers Lab Sloan Foundation Fellowship for her screenplay “Activated,” which also was a Sundance lab semifinalist. Epstein is a SeriesFest writers’ room writer for the web series “Dropshot Divas” and “Growing Up Old.” She recently was commissioned to write an original screenplay by a producer in L.A.
Alexandra Fernandez ’19 is a first generation Mexican-American writer born and raised in East Los Angeles. After graduating from Stephens College MFA program in 2019, she landed a job as a writer's PA on the Shondaland firefighter network drama, Station 19. As she was moving up the Station 19 assistant ranks, Alex was writing animated shorts on the side for DreamWorks Spirit & Friends with her former Stephens mentor, Ligiah Villalobos. During Station 19's season 5, Alex started her second year as a Research assistant for the show, but this time, slated to write and produce a full freelance episode herself. Alex wrote episode 5x13 "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire," which was directed by Paris Barclay. Alex has since been staffed as a writer on Station 19 season 6.
Kenneth Grimble ’18 co-directed and acted in "Desert Trilogy," a trilogy of short films by Pamela Winfrey and Terry Selucky, and is acting in John Lewis’s upcoming film. He also wrote, directed, and produced a short film.
Sydney Haven ’17 reached the second round of the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition with her comedy “Drawing Dead.”
Sahar Jahani ’18 worked as a creative coordinator for YouTube Originals while a student in Stephens’ MFA program. After graduating, she served as writers’ assistant, script coordinator and writer for episode 105 of Hulu’s "Ramy," and staff writer for "Undressed" on MTV Mini Room. She currently is a staff writer for "13 Reasons Why" and a screenwriter for the book adaptation of "Ayesha At Last" with Columbia Pictures. Her original pilot, “Uncovered,” was named a Sundance Episodic Lab Finalist in 2018 and was the first MACRO Episodic Lab winner. The series is being developed with Eva Longoria’s company. In addition, Jahani was selected for the 2018 Warner Brothers TV Workshop.
Laura Kirk ’17 was promoted to assistant teaching professor at the University of Kansas, where she serves as faculty advisor for the KU screenwriting club. Her reviews have been published in the Journal of Screenwriting and she was awarded the Missouri Stories Fellowship for her screenplay "Seekers," written in the Stephens College M.F.A. program.
Betsy Leighton ’18 is the board chair of SeriesFest and runs mini writers’ rooms through her production company, Unreal Media.
John Lewis ’18 shot the pilot episode of his web series Lost in Moldova after graduation. It was selected by three web fests, including the IndieFest Film Awards, Stareable Fest in New York and the Berlin Webfest.
LeeAnne Lowry ’19 has had their scripts place in a number of competitions. Their script "Thirst" made it into the Athena Film Festival TV Lab, was a finalist at the Twister Alley Film Festival, a semifinalist at the Screenplay Festival, and a selection at the Action of Film Megafest. Their script "Hard Work" scored in the 99th percentile in WeScreenplay Full Coverage. Their spec "Timeless: Electra" was a finalist in the Las Vegas International Film and Screenwriting Festival. Their script, "Hick, Darling" was a finalist for the Stowe Story Labs 2021 Fellowship.
Ghizlane Morlot ‘22 received an MFA in Television and Screenwriting from Stephens College. She was granted a fellowship by the Alliance of Women Directors in Los Angeles and participated in a six-month directing workshop with USC School of Cinematics Arts Associate Professor Jennifer Warren, as part of a diversity initiative supporting women in film. In the fall of 2019, Ghizlane shadowed producer/director Randy Zisk (pre-production and production) on the set of Almost Family (Fox Television). During the 2021 pandemic, Ghizlane directed Snow on The Farm, a comedy web series featuring women, chickens (mostly female) and goats (YouTube/IGTV). In the fall of 2021, Morlot joined Gallico Productions as a producer working on several projects in development. She is attached to direct her debut feature, Meet Me in the Kitchen at Midnight, a dark comedy about yet another woman on the edge, written by fellow Stephens MFA alum Mary Robbins.
W.A.W. Parker ’19 (aka Adam) is a queer/Two-Spirit/Northern Cheyenne/white/writer in Los Angeles. Adam grew up in Montana and studied film and gender at Harvard. Their pilot THE BARON made the GLAAD List and the Indigenous List. Their novel “The Wasteland” about T.S. Eliot won the American Fiction Award and the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in LGBTQ+ Fiction. Their live-action short film THE ROOF is on Disney+.
Jackie Perez ’17 is a semifinalist in the 2019 ScreenCraft Public Domain screenplay contest for “Amazing Grace,” a STEM-centric screenplay based on the life of Grace Hopper. She works remotely as a part-time grant writer for Stowe Story Labs.
Amelia Phillips ’17 wrote a screenplay for an independent producer about the true story of an Armenian Genocide survivor who risks his life to hide Jews while Nazis live on his land. “The Seventh Brother” was named a quarterfinalist for the 2019 Nicholl Fellowship. Phillips also is working freelance on a murder mystery podcast. She attended the Athena lab was accepted into the Stowe lab with a scholarship. Phillips also wrote and directed her first short film.
Sarah Phillips ’17 is a director and writer located in Los Angeles, passionate about telling moving stories that usually involve musicals and/or science fiction. SP has been making films since a young age, has been in LA for fifteen years, and has directed nine short films. Two were distributed by ShortsTV on international broadcast, one by Boyish Media. One has gone viral on YouTube. She won the SeriesFest “Visionary" Special Jury Award, and has won awards at SOHO International Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, Circle City Film Festival, Houston WorldFest, Idyllwild International, and Silicon Beach Film Festival.
Additionally, her short films have shown at Dances With Films, Hollyshorts, Palm Springs Shorts Fest, LA Shorts International, Mystic Film Festival, Oxford Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, Adirondack Film Festival, Louisiana Film Prize, Detroit She-Town, Kansas City International, Moondance, and Miami Independent. When not directing, she is a cinematographer and drone pilot. She owns a production company, Small Batch Films, with her husband Nick Batchelder. She holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism and a Master's degree in Screenwriting. See her work at spbatchelder.com, or pro.imdb.com/name/nm3708423.
Megan Poepsel ’18 is working on a web series through SeriesFest and Unreal Media.
Rene Rawls ’20 finds herself passionately drawn to creating stories that engage audiences in awe-inspiring, refreshingly fun ways. Her work can be seen on the PBS show Lyla in the Loop, and as the recipient of the Mandela Day/Tribeca All Access Award, her animated short film, Sule and the Case of the Tiny Sparks, was produced and screened for both national and international audiences. Her picture book, Sule and the Case of the Tied-up Lion, received the Kirkus star and was selected as one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Indie Books of 2021. Rene’s comprehensive style of work on kids-inspired projects has led her to understand the critical importance of social-emotional learning, and as a result, she’s determined to bring more images of Black boys to preschool/bridge programming. In addition to being a Fred Rogers Fellow, Rene has participated in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Showrunner’s Mentorship Academy. She’s earned graduate degrees from Georgia State and Stephens College, is a proud graduate of Hampton University (HBCU), and loves being asked by kids to create more content.
Ilona Rossman Ho ’19 is an adjunct professor in the Film Department at DigiPen Institute of Technology, a college for interactive media and video. Her web series "Indivisible Mom" was a second-rounder at the Austin Film Festival and also won laurels at the Big Apple Film Festival and Sherman Oaks Film Festival. Her review of "The Heroine's Journey: Women's Quest for Wholeness" by Maureen Murdock was published in the 2019 fall issue of the Journal of Screenwriting. Ilona is a reader for the Austin Film Festival and participates in the MFA writer's group. In her spare time, she's working on a novella adaptation of the science fiction screenplay she wrote in the program.
Terry Selucky ’18 co-produced, wrote and directed a short film trilogy, "Desert Trilogy," with Pamela Winfrey, and currently is producing an independent pilot that is supported in part by Sundance Podcast writing and paid by Cutler Media, LLC. Selucky also is a reader for Austin Film Festival.
Yasser Shahin ’17 is currently a lecturer at San Jose State University. Before that he worked as a lecturer at Eastern Washington University, where he taught writing courses such as writing for the short, writing for T.V., feature writing, and adaptation. Shahin mentors many young writers who live in different countries in the Middle East. Shahin spoke at festivals and events virtually and in person such as Citizen Jane Film Festival 2018. He is a coauthor of "When Women Wrote Hollywood" edited by Dr. Rosanne Welch. Shahin writes in both English and Arabic and worked with Aljazeera Network and many different international channels for documentaries and T.V. programs as an assistant producer before teaching.
Lauren Smith ’17 is a development assistant at a TV and talent management company at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. The company represents Ann Curry, who is the host of the medical mystery show "Chasing the Cure," and Daymond John, one of the sharks on "Shark Tank." Smith also has written articles for BlueCan Screenplay Competition. Her screen play “Sunny’s Funnys” made it to the Scriptapalooza quarterfinals.
Amanda Stockwell ’17 is adapting a television pilot into children’s book series.
Dan Sturman ’17 is teaching screenwriting at Colorado College and has been working on several documentary film projects since graduation.
Chase Thompson ’17 is an associate professor of digital filmmaking at Stephens College. He wrote and directed “Tampsen Air,” an episodic film project that was nominated for Best TV Pilot by the New York City Independent Film Festival. The pilot, which was produced with the help of undergraduate students in Stephens’ digital filmmaking program, also screened at Denver Pop Culture Con, Kansas City Film Festival International and Toronto Lift-Off.
Sarah Whorton ’17 was selected to participate in Jaquira Díaz's weeklong Advanced Nonfiction Workshop at Lit Fest 2021. She published two chapters in "When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry" and several reviews in The Journal of Screenwriting. Her screenplay "Sight" placed in the Dramatic Feature category of the Austin Film Festival, the WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Screenplay contest, and among the Top 20 of The Film Empire FEMPIRE screenwriting contest. Whorton has presented at a variety of regional and national conferences and won the GOLD at the 2018 UPCEA Marketing and Enrollment Awards for her news release video “Master of public health with an emphasis in veterinary public health.”
Pamela Winfrey ’18 co-produced "Desert Trilogy" with Terry Selucky, and is producing a web series called Singularity in Love. Her screenplay “No Coffee?” was selected for the Portland Comedy Film Festival in spring 2019. Winfrey also was a runner-up in Roadmap’s Wise Words screenwriting contest for her pilot “It’s a Boy!” and a finalist for “Women Will Have Their Dogs.”
Kelley Zinge ’17 wrote 11 episodes of “Kids’ Planet,” an educational TV show by CIC Media, and had her children’s story “Lullaby for Ella Vi” produced and recorded as an audiobook with words and music in collaboration with UCLA Extension. It will be available to children in residence at Ronald McDonald Houses all over the country. Zinge is working with a New York literary agent on a few children’s books and putting the finishing touches on her musical “Carnival Noir.”