“The public is screaming for Asian American talent,” CAPE director, Jennifer Sanderson tells me. “Screaming for Asian American talent. I get calls on a daily basis asking for Asian American writers and talents. I want our communities to know about these opportunities and just really go for it.”
Judging by the numerous submissions that CAPE received from the United States and all over the world (including Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan), it seems like the talents are responding. The prestigious 11th annual CAPE New Writers Awards, in both Screenwriting and Television Writing categories packed the Japanese American National Museum’s (JANM) theater with industry newcomers and pros alike.
The event, produced by CAPE (the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) Foundation, Inc., and Fox Entertainment Group (with support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association), honored Jaffar Mahmood as the Screenwriting winner for his script, How to Throw a Party in Pakistan. Mia Riverton’s script, His & Hers and Ann. N. Truong’s script, So I Married a Black Guy were 1st and 2nd runner up, respectively. Randall Park took home the Television Writing award for his original script, Erasists. Leonard Chang’s Isa’s Return was 1st runner-up and Becoming Kate by Leonardo Nam and Sara Drew was 2nd runner up.
If many of these names sound familiar to you, it’s probably because they are familiar faces.
Ceremony producer Leo Chu remarks, “About half of our finalists this year have been actors so apparently, they have been busy acting as well as writing.” He goes on to joke, “Some of them, it’s the first script they’ve ever written which is pretty astounding and disheartening to me as a writer.”
And even more impressive is the fact that whereas in the past, winners have been scripts that were adapted from shows currently on air or movies that have already been made (for example, last year’s Television Writing Winner, Aaron Ho’s script was his version of a How I Met Your Mother episode), all 6 of this year’s scripts were original.
After the awards were handed out, the audience was treated to readings of last year’s winning scripts. Amusing, heartfelt and very well-written, the works definitely carry merit.
“Writers are king, “ Sanderson says, “We have to develop these talents.”
Future projects CAPE has in store for aspiring writers include a “Writing for Mainstream” workshop which Sanderson feels will be an amazing way for writers to get their work out.
Photos courtesy of Steven Lam