Women Write Now Logo

A Comedic Screenwriting Fellowship for Black Women


Women Write Now is a partnership between Hartbeat and the Sundance Institute designed to champion and elevate the voices Black female comedy writers through a fellowship that provides mentorship, advocacy, production, and exhibition. This immersive script-to-screen fellowship will support three talented writers in developing short comedic scripts while being advised and mentored by some of the most influential Black women in comedy. The resulting scripts will be produced by Hartbeat and directed by celebrity Black female directors. The three short films will premiere at a special screening during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival and will be distributed by Hartbeat and partner(s). Travel to the 2024 Sundance Film Festival will be provided.

Following the fellowship, the selected writers will also receive a twelve-month first look deal to submit original projects for consideration for development with Hartbeat.


  • Participation in the fellowship with individualized mentorship and creative and professional development opportunities

  • A stipend for the duration of the fellowship which shall include:

    • US$5,000 upon acceptance into the fellowship 

    • US$5,000 upon delivery of final approved script  

  • Writing and Creative Producing credit in the writer’s respective short film

  • A First Look Deal with Hartbeat 

  • Virtual or in-person set visit 

  • A four-night trip to the 2024 Sundance Film Festival


Over the course of two weeks in August, the selected writers will develop their short comedic scripts, receiving feedback and guidance from some of the biggest names working in comedy and entertainment. During the fellowship, the selected writers will attend workshops on how to thrive in the business, pitch, get to the greenlight, market themselves and their work, create an artful punchline, and more! Selected writers will also participate in one-on-one creative development meetings and receive screenplay feedback in order to get their short film screenplays production ready.


The selected writers will participate in the pre-production, production, and post-production process of their short films as creative producers. Each selected writer will participate in a set visit, virtually or in-person, as determined by Hartbeat. The selected writers will also be given the opportunity to consult on the editing of their short films. 

How to apply

Thank you to everyone who has shown interest in the latest Women Write Now cycle. In light of the ongoing WGA strike, Hartbeat has decided to temporarily suspend submissions for the Women Write Now fellowship program. We want to emphasize our respect for the negotiation process and acknowledge the gravity of the situation.

Once the strike has concluded, we will announce new submission and program dates.Thank you for your understanding. Please check back and subscribe for updates.

Women Write Now

Submission Overview and Eligibility

Women Write Now is looking for applicants who meet the following criteria:

  • Identify as Black or African American

  • Identify as female 

  • Be 18 years or older at the time of application 

  • Be an emerging non-union writer 

  • Be based in the United States and legally authorized to work in the United States 

Applicants must fill out the online application and submit a short screenplay between 5-10 pages (page count does not include the title page). When produced, each short film will be approximately 10 minutes in length. 

Applicants will be evaluated on the strength of the submitted material, which will include a statement of interest and an original short comedic screenplay. 

Approximately ten (10) finalists will be interviewed by Hartbeat staff, with final decisions made by the panel of award-winning filmmakers, industry leaders, Hartbeat executives, and partners from the Sundance Institute. Three (3) finalists will be selected to take part in the fellowship. All applicants will receive notification of their application status via e-mail by approximately July 21, 2023. 

Application Requirements

Application materials are to be submitted electronically unless the applicant does not have sufficient access or resources to do so. If an applicant needs an accommodation for submitting materials in an alternative format, they should contact Jennifer Kushner, jennifer@hartbeat.com prior to May 26, 2023 to determine an alternative means for submission.

Applicants will have a chance to save a work-in-progress version of the application before officially submitting. 

Submissions must be made directly by the credited writer/applicant themselves through the online application. Any screenplays submitted by any other method or by a representative (agent, manager, lawyer, publicist, etc.) will not be considered.

The Women Write Now program is not currently accepting collaborations or writing team applications. Submissions of screenplays written by a team (or more than one writer) may be automatically disqualified at Hartbeat’s sole discretion.

Submission Materials

ELIGIBILITY QUESTIONS—a series of questions about the applicant that will determine their eligibility for Women Write Now

TERMS AND CONDITIONS—applicants must agree to and electronically sign the terms and conditions upon entry

CONTACT INFO for the applicant 

BIO (250 words max) for the applicant 

STATEMENT OF INTEREST (500 words max) introducing the applicant and the project. We would like to get an idea of who you are. Please tell us a bit about your journey as a black female comedy writer; what your script is about and why you want to tell this story; and what specific goals you would like to achieve through the Women Write Now Fellowship.

LOGLINE (75 words max)—a one to two-sentence description of the story.

SYNOPSIS (350 words max)—brief summary of the plot of the script. Please include all major characters and story points, including the ending.

SHORT FILM SCREENPLAY (5-10 pages and further described below)

Applicants are to submit one (1) screenplay for an original comedic short film. Screenplays must meet the following criteria:

  • Screenplay Length - no shorter than five (5) pages and no longer than ten (10) pages. This does not include the title page.

  • Limited to one (1) main location (INT or EXT); and no more than five (5) speaking roles 

  • Written in English

  • Screenplay may not be written by more than one (1) writer 

  • Include a title page displaying only title of screenplay and name of credited writer (not included in the 10-page limit)

  • Be original; all rights must be wholly original with and owned by the writer

  • Be submitted electronically as a pdf file and must meet all standard screenplay format guidelines

Selection Criteria

Submissions will be evaluated with the following criteria:

Story - The screenplay must effectively convey a rich, compelling, and comedic short-form story.

Characters - The story must introduce interesting, nuanced, and authentic characters that are grounded within the world the writer has crafted.

Originality - The characters, structure, and ideas must feel unique with a sense of boldness and risk.

Comedy - Above all else… MAKE US LAUGH!

Applicant is at an appropriate stage in their career to benefit from this fellowship. 

Applicant has expressed compelling reasons why they wish to participate in the fellowship and has articulated their career goals.

Notification and Verification

All applicants will be notified about their status via email..

Due to the anticipated high volume of submissions, we are unfortunately unable to provide feedback about individual projects. 

If you have additional questions, please visit the FAQ

If you have further questions, please email wwn@hartbeat.com

Short films

Hey Boo - Short film - Women Write Now

Hey Boo

Written by Danielle Solomon
Directed by Logan Browning

Atlanta’s top braider, notorious for canceling on clients, must braid her way out of being canceled by the internet.

Available on Peacock

Night Off - Short film - Women Write Now

Night Off

Written by
Kiana Butler Jabangwe
Directed by Tika Sumpter

New parents smoke weed on their first date night, leading to mommy guilt and trippy surprises.

Available on Peacock

Power Dynamics - Short film - Women Write Now

Power Dynamics

Written by Mayanna Berrin
Directed by Nicole Byer

Assistant by day, dominatrix by night. She was making it work until her sub became her boss.

Available on Peacock

Black Karen - Short film - Women Write Now

Black Karen

Written by Danielle Nicole
Directed by Meagan Good

On the advice of a therapist to treat her anxiety by, “thinking and behaving like happy people do,” one Black woman notices that white people seem pretty happy…

Available on Peacock

Buddy and Bernice - Short film - Women Write Now

Buddy & Bernice

Written by Wilandrea Blair
Directed by Gabrielle Dennis

A nursing home’s famous funny man feels upstaged when his old comic nemesis moves in. Knowing a hearty laugh could put each of them in cardiac arrest, their goal is to tell jokes that kill – each other.

Available on Peacock

Take the Job - Short film - Women Write Now

Take the Job

Written by Moni Oyedepo
Directed by Bresha Webb

When Bri is offered a full-time job at the end of her internship, she’s shocked by the one stipulation her employer has for the position.

Available on Peacock

Program Leadership

Hartbeat - Candice Wilson Cherry

Candice Wilson Cherry

EVP and Head of Film Hartbeat
Hartbeat - Jeniffer Kushner

Jennifer Kushner

Program Consultant
Hartbeat - Michelle Satter

Michelle Satter

Founding Senior Director Sundance Institute

Past Fellows and Directors

Mayanna Berrin - WWN - Hartbeat

Mayanna Berrin

2022 Writer, Power Dynamics
Kiana Butler - WWN - Hartbeat

Kiana Butler Jabangwe

2022 Writer, Night Off
Daniell Solomon - WWN - Hartbeat

Danielle Solomon

2022 Writer, Hey Boo
Logan Browning -  WWN - Hartbeat

Logan Browning

2022 Director, Hey Boo
Nicole  - WWN - Hartbeat

Nicole Byer

2022 Director, Power Dynamic
Tika Sumpter - WWN - Hartbeat

Tika Sumpter

2022 Director, Night Off
Wilandrea Blair - WWN - Hartbeat

Wilandrea Blair

2021 Writer, Buddy and Bernice
Daniell Nicolet - WWN - Hartbeat

Danielle Nicolet

2021 Writer, Black Karen
Moni Oyedepo  - WWN - Hartbeat

Moni Oyedepo

2021 Writer, Take the Job
Gabrielle Dennis - WWN - Hartbeat

Gabrielle Dennis

2021 Director, Buddy and Bernice
Meagan Good - WWN - Hartbeat

Meagan Good

2021 Director, Black Karen
Bresha Webb - WWN - Hartbeat

Bresha Webb

2021 Director, Take the Job
Women Write Now


Is it possible to get an extension? What’s the final deadline?

Unfortunately we cannot grant extensions; you must submit your online application by no later than 5:00 pm PDT on June 5, 2023.

What if I have a co-writer on my team?

Women Write Now does not support co-writing teams at this time. You must be the sole author of the material and apply as an individual.

May I apply with more than one script?

You may submit only one (1) project that is your priority in terms of moving forward.

How do I submit an application?

Applications for the Women Write Now Fellowship will be available online between April 26, 2023 and June 5, 2023, and can be accessed at womenwritenow.smapply.io

If I have applied to Women Write Now previously but was not accepted, may I reapply?

Previous applicants are welcome to reapply and will be reviewed in the same manner as first time applicants.

What are the dates of the Women Write Now Fellowship?

The fellowship runs from approximately August 7, 2023-January 30, 2024 with Lab and Mentorship sessions taking place from August 7-18. A detailed schedule will be provided upon acceptance.

Will the program be in-person or virtual?

The Lab may be virtual and/or in person at Hartbeat’s election.

I have a project I want to submit, but it’s still in treatment form or a partial draft. If I don't think I will be able to have a draft in screenplay format in time to submit, can I submit my treatment or partial draft for consideration?

No. We need to receive a completed draft of a screenplay to consider your project. This does not mean the final draft; however, we do ask that the script is in standard format.

How long (or short) should my script be?

Submitted Screenplays should be between 5-10 pages not including the title page.

Do you consider scripts written in a language other than English?

No. All scripts must be submitted in English and the selected projects must be produced in English. 

Do you consider adaptations?

No. The project must be original.

May I apply with a script that has been submitted or supported elsewhere?

Yes, we have no restrictions on material that has been submitted to or supported by other artist development programs; provided there are no contractual restrictions or attachments to the script.

The screenplay requirements say the script must be limited to one (1) main location. Can there be a secondary location within the main location? Can my script have multiple setups within the same location?

As long as your script is set in one primary location, you may use multiple areas, rooms or spaces within that setting. For example, if your script is set in a hospital, you may have a scene in a reception area and another in a hospital room.

May I apply with an animation script?

Scripts must be live action only.

I don’t have much experience. Does that affect my chances of being selected?

No. We seek to foster exciting emerging voices, regardless of prior professional film experience.

How far along should my screenplay be when I submit? Can I submit a rough draft? Are you looking for a polished draft?

You must have a completed draft of your screenplay to apply, but we expect that it will still be a work-in-progress. 

May I submit letters of recommendation? Should I have my industry contacts call on my behalf?

No. Final selections are based on the screenplay and supporting application materials alone, and recommendations will not influence our decisions.

How will I be notified about acceptance? Will I be notified if I’m not selected?

All applicants will receive a notification via email regardless of whether or not they are selected by approximately July 21, 2023.

Will my ideas be protected?

The submission release within the application sets forth rights and obligations with respect to your submission.

What does the Fellowship cover?

A stipend for the duration of the fellowship, a virtual or in-person set visit (to be determined by Hartbeat) and a trip to Sundance including travel and accommodations. 

When I apply for or am selected for the Fellowship, does Hartbeat own my screenplay?

In connection with the production of the short films, each selected writer will be required to sign a submission release and short form assignment that, among other things, include a grant of rights to Hartbeat with respect to the writer’s script. However, if you are not selected for the Fellowship all rights will revert free and clear.

If my script is selected will I get final cut approval on the produced short film?

Selected writers will be given the opportunity to consult on the edit but Hartbeat will maintain final cut approval on the short films.


Hartbeat - Sundance