2019 Writers' Room Program

The Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room is a summer-long writing intensive program for underrepresented writers interested in children’s media. The 2019 Writing Fellows each developed and workshopped their own original children’s television concept and script with guidance from a wide range of industry leaders. Every year, select fellows have their work featured in a staged reading and are awarded development deals from Sesame Workshop.

I absolutely loved this experience and I’m so inspired to keep pursuing children's media. If I have a career as a writer, I will have this program to thank for giving me the tools and confidence to tell these kinds of stories.

− Michael Rodriguez, 2018 Fellow

2019 Fellows

Travis Gregory|St. Louis, MO

Travis is a comedian and writer who studied at the University of Missouri and has appeared on The Adam Carolla Show and The Koy Pond with Jo Koy. After working as a legislative consultant in Ferguson, MO, he co-founded a digital platform for unsung community artists and comedians of color in St. Louis. His passion is using satire to tell the stories of the hidden figures that history has forgotten.

Malik Isasis|Brooklyn, NY

Malik is an award-winning writer and director based in Brooklyn. He has written and directed several short films and three features, and he is a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective. He believes that films redefine personal identity, counter prevailing cultural stereotypes, and conceive new directions for the future.

Mylo Lam|Los Angeles, CA

Mylo is an educator, writer, poet, and performer. A graduate of UCLA and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Mylo creates stories about and for people of color. He hopes to contribute to the kinds of children’s media that left an indelible mark on him as a kid - ones that inspire children to look at their own world in new and inventive ways. His poems can be read on the upcoming issues of Barrelhouse and The Coachella Review.

Utkarsh Rajawat|Astoria, NY

Utkarsh is a writer/performer who likes theater, sketch comedy, and TV. He's performed with the PIT, Magnet, and Boogiemanja, and was a Princess Grace Award Finalist for playwriting in 2018. He wants to make immersive, empowering, representative work, and also jokes!

Kayla Skipper|Oswego, NY

Kayla is a freelance writer and a production assistant in film and TV. She is a graduate of Newhouse at Syracuse University where she received her Masters in Television, Radio, and Film. Kayla enjoys working and volunteering with children at church, summer camps, and other organizations. She hopes to write stories and create characters that especially highlight the “Quiet Awesomeness” of introvert kids.

Pilot Viruet|Astoria, NY

Pilot is a culture writer and editor living in Queens, New York. Their work has appeared in The New York Times, Vulture, VICE, The Atlantic, and more. Pilot's career emphasizes reporting on diversity, representation, and inclusion.

Ryan Willard|New York, NY

Ryan is a filmmaker, actor and host. His award-winning short film, Quantum, has screened at more than 20 festivals worldwide. He began in children’s media on Wee Sing in Sillyville, was on-air talent at Nickelodeon, and currently commentates professional table tennis matches for USATT. Ryan co-produced the feature film, Safe Spaces, which premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

Jebby Zhang|Fremont, CA

Jebby is animated filmmaker and storyteller. She graduated from CalArts with a degree in character animation. Her goal is to make diverse, humorous, and empathetic content for kids. Her dream is to have her nephews brag about her on the playground.

2019 Speakers

LaToye AdamsWonderWhy Consulting LLC, President

LaToye is a researcher and 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 leading producers and developers including Sesame Workshop, Nickelodeon, YouTube Originals Kids & Learning, and Google Education. At Michael Cohen Group, LaToye served as Director of Research for Nickelodeon's Bubble Guppies and ushered new production teams at YouTube Originals Kids & Learning through the content research process. In addition, LaToye had the great joy of serving as the 2016-2018 National President of the Children’s Media Association.

Ron HolseyMartha Speaks, Odd Squad, Writer

An award‐winning playwright and two‐time Emmy nominee, Ron has written more than 70 episodes of television for series including Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Big Time Rush, Martha Speaks, Curious George, Arthur, Johnny Test, Wallykazam!, Nina’s World, Odd Squad, Miles from Tomorrowland, Elena of Avalor, The Furchester Hotel and Sesame Street. He has developed original series for several kids’ networks and is currently writing for several new animated series premiering in 2017. Ron is an alum of the Nickelodeon Writing Program and was in the inaugural group of the Emerging Writers Program at Terra Firma Films.

Keion Jackson2017 Sesame Workshop Writing Fellow , Story Editor and Writer

Keion is a screenwriter, published author, playwright and filmmaker. He was part of the inaugural Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room in 2017, at the end of which he received a creative development deal to develop an original series with Sesame Workshop. Since then he’s written episodes for Sesame Street, Esme and Roy, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, all while writing and serving as story editor for an upcoming Nick Jr. television series. Prior to his career in children’s media, Keion was a Senior Creative Writer at Hallmark Cards Inc.

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

As the head of the Animation and Family Entertainment division at The Gotham Group, LLC since 1999, Julie represents creators of top-rated series, experienced show runners, Emmy award winning writers and directors, and New York Times best-selling authors. She also served as the co-producer on The Spiderwick Chronicles feature and as a co-executive producer on the Hallmark Channel’s Dear Dumb Diary movie. A “recovering” lawyer, Julie learned the secret ways of the studios before switching sides to promote and defend talent rights.

Susan KimSesame Workshop Writers' Room Instructor

Susan is a TV writer, YA and graphic novel author, documentary producer, and playwright. She has been a writer, story editor, and/or head writer writer for more than four dozen children’s series in the US and abroad, including Welcome to the Wayne, Astroblast, Clifford the Big Red Dog, 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 six times and the Writers Guild award four times.

Tim McKeonHelpsters, Creator/Executive Producer

Tim is a three-time Emmy winning writer and producer. He is creator, executive producer and head writer for the Sesame Workshop live-action show Helpsters, which will premiere this fall on Apple TV+. Prior to that, Tim co-created and was head writer and executive producer for PBS Kids’ Odd Squad. He has also worked extensively in animation, having written on such shows as Disney’s Gravity Falls and Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time. He likes national parks and pie.

Sascha PaladinoMiles from Tomorrowland, Creator/Executive Producer

Sascha is an Emmy-nominated writer, producer, and filmmaker. He is the creator and executive producer of Disney Junior's intergalactic adventure series Miles from Tomorrowland, and is currently executive producer of the upcoming Mira, Royal Detective, Disney's first show set in an India-inspired land. He has produced and written for shows including Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, Henry Hugglemonster, Doc McStuffins, Octonauts, Blue’s Clues, Wonder Pets!, and more. He has worked with companies including Nickelodeon, Disney, The Jim Henson Company, MTV, Scholastic, and the BBC. Sascha's films include the award-winning Throw Down Your Heart, which explores cross-cultural communication through music in Africa.

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 multiple Emmy awards and nominations for his work.

Roxy Simons2018 Sesame Workshop Writing Fellow, Screenwriter

Roxy is a screenwriter currently staffed on an upcoming DreamWorks Animation TV show. She was a fellow in the 2018 Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room, at the end of which she received a creative development deal to develop an original series with Sesame Workshop. She has written for Disney Jr's Vampirina and the upcoming Netflix series, Gabby's Dollhouse. She is also in development with Disney Jr. to create a new original series.

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.