Industry’s First Initiative for Diverse Late Night and Sketch Writers Is Proven Training Ground for Sought-After Staff Positions
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – April 17, 2019 – Now in its seventh year, NBC’s Late Night Writers Workshop, the industry’s first initiative for emerging diverse late night and sketch comedy writers, has named Jill Cepela, Dylan Eshbaugh, Shenovia Large, Alexandria McCale, Mona Mira and Chloe Radcliffe to its 2019 class.
Chosen from 1,000 applicants, the new class will participate in an intensive five-day program next week that will prepare them to be staff writers on late night and sketch comedy shows.
Created in 2013, NBC’s Late Night Writers Workshop has a proven track record of discovering and developing emerging late night and sketch comedy writers, and has become a successful pipeline for the network’s programming. Alumni are producers and writers on top late night and sketch comedy shows, including Jenny Hagel (“Late Night with Seth Meyers,” including onscreen apperances in the “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” segment), Kate Sidley (“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”) and Nedaa Sweiss (“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”).
“Our Late Night Writers Workshop has been a major change agent in the late night and sketch comedy landscape, which has been historically homogenous,” said Karen Horne, Senior Vice President, Programming Talent Development & Inclusion, NBC Entertainment and Universal Television. “Our program infuses diverse talent into the writers’ rooms, which helps these shows in presenting fresh and relatable cultural commentary on the big headlines of the day.”
Over five days at NBC’s headquarters in 30 Rockefeller Center, the Late Night Writers Workshop participants will get an in-depth look at a late night show, including attending a taping of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and getting a behind-the-scenes tour. Guest speakers from across NBCUniversal’s late night shows as well as Late Night Writers Workshop alumni will lead intimate conversations with the writers about their experiences working in late night and sketch comedy.
This year they will hear from Jim Bell, showrunner and executive in charge of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” 2015 Late Night Writers Workshop alumnus and wellRED Comedy Tour performer Trae Crowder, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” writer and 2017 StandUp NBC finalist Jourdain Fisher, “SNL” writer and 2014 StandUp NBC semifinalist Sam Jay, “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” correspondent and 2015 StandUp NBC winner Dulcé Sloan, as well as writers on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Each day also consists of writing instruction, insightful feedback and collaborative assignments that mirror the late night comedy writing experience. The writers will leave the program with new sketch material and insight into the dynamics of a late night writers’ room.
Following the program, NBC continues advocating for each of the program’s writers by putting them up for open staffing positions on the network’s late night shows and helping them secure representation.
The 2019 class features an array of talented writers from various diverse backgrounds:
Chicago native Cepela is a writer and comedian based in Los Angeles. After graduating from San Diego State University, she studied improv and sketch comedy at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and The Groundlings. Cepela is currently a writer for the UCB Maude sketch team “Moon Goon.” Her notable achievements include being selected as a finalist for the UCLA Extension Spec Writing Competition, and having sketches featured on Whohaha and Funny or Die.
Eshbaugh discovered his passion for writing and performing at the age of 12. With the emergence of YouTube, he created a web series that won three Webby Honorees, including Best Host and Best Comedy Series. Eshbaugh graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of Arts with a BFA in theatre and a minor in film production, where he studied TV writing and wrote short plays and films. He currently writes and performs with the sketch team Like Butter and has performed at UCB and the Peoples Improv Theater. Eshbaugh also co-produces a show called “Scrapped: A Show for Writers.” When not writing comedy, he enjoys making music with his band, The Ruby Shots.
Large performs improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade on Lloyd Night with the team, Statham, and is also a writer for Maude Night with the sketch team, House of Birds. She is a creative producer for “Who Made the Potato Salad?” a sketch comedy show starring people of color. Large has appeared in “Broad City,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.” She is repped by Innovative Artists.
McCale has been writing and performing sketch comedy for over six years. She has extensive training from the Upright Citizens Brigade and iO West. McCale’s writing credits include a recently produced pilot called “K-Pop!” and the sketch comedy YouTube series, “The Zach Callison Show.” She has also appeared as a featured comedian in multiple videos on comedy channels, including Buzzfeed, Funny or Die and All Def Digital.
An Alanta native, Mira is an Iranian-American actress, writer and stand-up comedian. She earned a degree in neuroscience and behavioral biology and worked in a medical cannabis analytical testing laboratory before pursuing comedy full time. Mira performs all over the country and was recently featured in the Laugh Factory’s Fresh Faces stand-up showcase in Los Angeles. Her original musical sketch, “Kegels,” was featured on Funny or Die and aired on the Emmy Award-winning talk show “The Doctors.” She currently produces an Instagram story series called “Mona Murder Monday” that recaps famous and obscure murders every week. Her upcoming television appearances include “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Sherman’s Showcase.” Mira is repped by Authentic Talent and Pakula/King & Associates.
Radcliffe is a New York City-based comic who was recently named a TBS Comic to Watch at the New York Comedy Festival. In 2017, Radcliffe was a semi-finalist in StandUp, NBC nationwide search for diverse comedians as well as at the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival. In 2018, she appeared in an episode of Epix’s “Unprotected Sets” and was listed as one of Thrillist’s 50 Best Undiscovered Comics. The Minneapolis Star Tribune featured Radcliffe as one of nine Minnesotan artists to watch in 2019. She is currently on the production team for Minneapolis’ 10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival, which is entering its ninth year. Prior to her career in comedy, she competed in speech and debate for 10 years, winning two national championships at the college level. She also worked as a corporate speechwriter for three years. Along with stand-up comedy, she produces house sketch shows in her living room where she writes and performs personal, grounded sketches for alt-comedy audiences. Radcliffe is repped by Artists First.
ABOUT LATE NIGHT WRITERS WORKSHOP
NBC’s Late Night Writers Workshop is the first annual initiative from an entertainment company dedicated to discovering and developing late night and sketch comedy writers of diverse backgrounds. Founded in 2013, the multi-day program focuses on exposing talented sketch and comedy writers to NBCUniversal’s late night and alternative line-up and readying them for a staff writer position. The selected writers create new sketch material and gain insight into the dynamics of a late night writers’ room, as well as receive feedback on their material. Writers also interact with key writers and producers from across NBCUniversal’s late night and alternative shows. Alumni include Eliza Bayne (“Bring the Funny”), Jenny Hagel (“Late Night with Seth Meyers” who also appears onscreen in the “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” segment), Julian Kiani (“I Feel Bad”), Allie Koresh (“Hollywood Game Night”), Kate Sidley (“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”), Nicole Sun (“I Feel Bad”), Nedaa Sweiss (“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”) and Robert Woo (“Making It”). The Late Night Writers Workshop is one of the tentpole initiatives within the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS) that promote and encourage people of diverse backgrounds to become the next generation of storytellers. For more information, visit the NBCUniTIPS.com.
ABOUT THE NBC TALENT INFUSION PROGRAMS (NBC TIPS)
Since 2000, NBC has been dedicated to discovering and nurturing on screen and behind-the-camera talent of diverse and inclusive backgrounds through the NBC Talent Infusion Programs (NBC TIPS). NBC TIPS are amongst the most extensive and robust diversity and inclusion programs in the television industry. They feature more than 20 programs including Writers on the Verge, the Diverse Staff Writer Initiative, Female Forward, Emerging Director Program, Alternative Directors Program and the StandUp NBC nationwide search for stand-up comedians. Program alumni are celebrated producers, writers, directors and actors in the entertainment industry who have gone on to win Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG Awards and include Alan Yang, Mindy Kaling, Deon Cole, Lil Rel Howery, Keto Shimizu, Natasha Rothwell, Danny Pudi and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel. For more information, visit NBCUniTIPS.com.
Dupe Bosu, Dupe.Bosu@nbcuni.com, 818-777-9356
Vanessa Pearce, Vanessa.Pearce@nbcuni.com, 818-777-3966