2018 Writers' Room Program

During an eight-week period, writing fellows developed and workshopped their own original children’s television concept and script, with guidance from a wide range of children’s media industry leaders. The fellowship concluded with a staged reading featuring the work of Nayna Agrawal and Roxy Simons, who were awarded Creative Development Deals.

Through the program, I got the chance to develop as a screenwriter, explore the cultural and personal nuances of my voice, and learn from some of the most talented writers in the industry.

− Keion Jackson, 2017 Fellow

2018 Fellows

Nayna Agrawal|North Hollywood, CA

Featured in Variety's "100 Writers to Watch" (2015), Nayna is a former NYC investment analyst, SF community foundation VP, DC legislative writer and Asia-based international aid director in anti-trafficking initiatives. In 2017, in addition to being a Moving Arts Theater fellow and a video game writer, she was a finalist for Screenwriters Colony, the O'Neil Playwrights Conference, the PlayPenn fellowship and the Stella Adler playwright-in-residence.

Sara El-Behiri|New York, NY

Sara spent six years working in television before realizing her true calling in children's media. She spent the last two years working at Nickelodeon Animation Studios. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Animation at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has a passion for animation that delights and expands the imagination.

Cynthia Furey|Los Angeles, CA

Cynthia is a sitcom writer, food journalist, and graduate of the University of California, Irvine. She’s worked as a restaurant critic and recipe developer for such publications as The Orange County Register, the Zagat Restaurant Guides and Google. Cynthia also is an alumna of the NBC Diversity Scene Showcase and the CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program in television. She is a culinary school survivor.

Vanessa Garcia|Miami, FL

Vanessa Garcia is a playwright, novelist, and journalist. Her novel, White Light, was one of NPRs Best Books of 2015. Her writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and numerous other publications. One of her first words was “Mig-Mon,” which, in her early language, translated to “Big Bird.”

Michael Rodriguez|New York, NY

Michael is a comedy writer from Columbia University and is especially interested in finding humor at the intersection of identity and the western canon. He is a student at UCB NY, and a librettist at the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, and hopes to write memorable stories that inspire young audiences.

Roxy Simons|New York, NY

Roxy is a UCB trained comedy writer with a degree in English from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She writes for the New York City-based sketch comedy troupe BoogieManja. Roxy’s goal is to create better representation on TV, especially for young girls of color.

Darnell Walker|Charlottesville, VA

Darnell is a writer, cultural anthropologist, and documentary filmmaker, traveling the globe in search of the stories people don’t know they need to hear and see. The Most Beautiful Thing in the World, his first children’s book, and other content he creates for children is secretly dedicated to his younger self and publicly dedicated to all the children who long for something familiar.

2018 Speakers

LaToye AdamsResearcher/Founder, WonderWhy Consulting LLC

LaToye is a researcher and educational consultant. Through WonderWhy Consulting, she drives a youth-centered design process by integrating formative research throughout the production life cycle for television content and educational technology. Throughout her career, LaToye has worked with teams at Nickelodeon, Michael Cohen Group, Sesame Workshop and Google. She was awarded the Fred Rogers Center's Early Career Fellowship to conceptualize and test mobile apps for under-served families. LaToye has the great joy of serving as National President of the non-profit organization Children's Media Association.

Janice BurgessThe Backyardigans, Creator/Executive Producer

Janice created and served as executive producer of the Emmy Award winning preschool series The Backyardigans for Nickelodeon. As an executive-in-charge of production and then Vice President at Nick Jr., she oversaw the production of Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Nick Jr. shows including Blue’s Clues, Little Bill and Whoopi’s Littleburg. In 2015 - 2016, Janice served as Executive Consultant for DreamWorks Animation Television. Her latest project is Enchanting Leela, in development with Canadian animation studio Nelvana Ltd.

Julie Kane-RitschThe Gotham Group, Talent Manager/Head of Animation and Family Entertainment

Julie represents successful series creators, Emmy award winning writers, directors, and composers, New York Times Bestselling authors, and fresh new voices. Her clients include series creators Butch Hartman, The Fairly Odd Parents; Chris Nee, Doc McStuffins; Daron Nefcy, Star vs. the Forces of Evil; Nadine van der Velde and Scott Kraft, The Fresh Beat Band; Jennifer Oxley, Peg + Cat; Sascha Paladino, Miles from Tomorrowland; and Carl Greenblatt, Harvey Beaks. Julie's literary clients include New York Times Bestselling authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Jim Benton and award winning author/illustrator Brom.

Susan KimSesame Street Writers' Room Workshop Facilitator

Susan is a TV writer, YA and graphic novel author, documentary producer, and playwright. She has written for and/or story edited more than four dozen children’s series in the US and abroad, including Welcome to the Wayne, Astroblast, Wonder Pets!, Reading Rainbow, Arthur, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Cyberchase, Octonauts, Speed Racer, and Handy Manny. She has been nominated for the Emmy five times and the Writers Guild award four times.

Chris NeeDoc McStuffins, Creator/Executive Producer

Peabody, Humanitas and Emmy Award-winner Chris Nee is the creator and executive producer of Disney Junior's Peabody Award-winning series Doc McStuffins. She is also executive producer of Disney Junior's upcoming animated series Vampirina. Chris has received multiple Emmy Award nominations for writing and won an Emmy in 2002 for her work on Little Bill, based on the children's books by Bill Cosby. Other writing credits include American Dragon: Jake Long, Johnny and the Sprites, Higglytown Heroes, The Backyardigans and Olivia. Chris began her career as an associate producer at Sesame Street International.

Adam PeltzmanWallykazam!, Creator/Executive Producer

Adam Peltzman is a three-time Emmy winning creator, writer and producer. Recent shows include the Nickelodeon series Wallykazam! (Creator and Executive Producer), the PBS series Odd Squad (Co-Creator and Co-Executive Producer), and the WNYC scripted podcast series, This Podcast Has Fleas (Co-Creator and Executive Producer). Additional head writer credits include The Electric Company, The Backyardigans and Blue's Clues. Adam has done development work for Nickelodeon, Disney, Amazon, Sesame Workshop, Dreamworks, The Jim Henson Company and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Adam has helped adapt two TV shows into live theatrical productions which have toured nationally, and has written several short comedic plays that have been produced throughout the U.S.

Maria Perez-BrownGullah Gullah Island, Executive Producer

Named one of the most powerful women and minorities in the cable industry for 2012 and 2011 by Cable Fax Magazine, Maria has over 20 years of experience developing and producing content for leading brands including Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., ABC, CBS, and NuvoTV. She was the creator and executive producer of critically acclaimed Taina. She also created the landmark pre-school series Gullah Gullah Island, which TV Guide recognized as one of the nation’s “top 10 television shows”. Most recently, Maria was CEO of Zwoosh Media, a company that specializes in producing children’s content across linear and digital platforms.

Ken ScarboroughSesame Street, Head Writer

Ken’s head writing credits include Curious George, Martha Speaks, Pocoyo, Arthur, and Doug. He served as a staff writer on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. For Sesame Workshop, Ken developed Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventures. He serves as Executive Producer and Head Writer of the Amazon series If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which premiered in 2017. Other writing credits include Between the Lions and The Adventures of Pete & Pete. He has received six Emmy awards for his work and six further nominations.

Ligiah VillalobosGo, Diego! Go!, Head Writer

Ligiah is a Writer, Producer, Consultant, Educator and Lecturer. She was the Head Writer on the Nickelodeon animated children’s show, Go, Diego! Go!, which became the first show to beat Dora the Explorer off the #1 spot. More recently, she was a Cultural Consultant on the Academy Award winning Pixar movie, Coco. She is best known for the indie hit film Under the Same Moon, (La Misma Luna), which she wrote and executive produced. Currently, she is writing on the Netflix animated children's series, Super Monsters and she just sold an animated TV series to the Disney Channel, Adelita y Señorita. She is also a writer and associate producer on the animated feature film Koati, currently in production.