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We Are the Storytellers

Founded in the year 2000, the Nickelodeon Writing Program is a full-time, paid, yearlong development Program for television comedy writers with unique voices and from underrepresented communities. Join us at the studio in Burbank for classes and workshops to sharpen your skills, executive mentorship and networking to build your professional relationships, and the opportunity to work in the iconic live-action and animation writers’ rooms at Nick. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dedicate yourself to the craft of writing and build your career from the ground up. The Nick Writing Program is not a writing contest – It’s a launching pad for diverse and emerging creatives. If you bring the unique voice and innovative ideas for kids’ and family content, we’ll help you launch a career with all the tools you’ll need to succeed in the industry for years to come.

We need your talent and perspective, so come tell us your story!

Please note: Website updates coming soon

Important Dates

Please note: notification dates are subject to change.

How to Apply

Our submission period runs July 1st to August 1st. All submissions must be completed by 11:59pm PST on August 1st. No late submissions will be considered. You must be 18 years or older, and eligible to work in the United States to participate. To apply, follow the link under the “Apply Online” section, fill out the application through our submission portal, and submit two scripts: One spec from our Accepted Shows List which gets updated every year (watch our social media channels for announcements), and one half-hour original comedy pilot. If you have previously applied to the Program and were not selected, you are welcome and encouraged to apply again with a new spec script for each submission period.

Pick a Focus

When you pick a focus, it helps us curate your experience in the Program to better help you reach your goals as a television writer. Picking a focus does not mean your time in the Program will be spent exclusively working on content for this audience, but simply helps us gauge your interests and set you on a course for success. Your spec and pilot submissions do not need to adhere to these audience age groups in any way.


Kids’ Content (Audience Age 6-11)

This age group is Nickelodeon’s bread and butter. Most of Nickelodeon’s most iconic live-action and animated shows are developed for this demographic including SpongeBob SquarePants, Danger Force, and The Loud House. 


Preschool Content (Audience Age 2-6)

The Preschool age group (including “bridge” content for tots moving into early elementary school age) loves to laugh and play along with their content. They’re smart, engaged, and always ready for new shows to watch like Paw Patrol, Ryan’s Mystery Playdate, and Baby Shark’s Big Show. 


Preteen/Young Adult (Audience Age 11-17)

Nickelodeon shares its home in the ViacomCBS Kids & Family Group with our partners at Awesomeness who cater to a tween and teen audience. We’ll partner with ATV and the creators of Nick’s shows for a slightly older audience like Side Hustle, Drama Club, and iCarly to make this experience the right one for you. 

Script Preparation

Script Guidelines

All applicants must submit a SPEC SCRIPT and ORIGINAL COMEDY PILOT that adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Must be based on a television series from the Accepted Shows List (spec only).
  • Typed in standard Final Draft (or equivalent) script format.
  • In black type, 12pt courier style font.
  • Do not upload a cover page with your script.

The following information should be included in the header/footer of your spec script on the first or all pages: 

  • Name of the show (center of the header). 
  • Title of the episode (center of the footer).
  • File name should include only the name of your show and episode (Do not include your name or your submission will not be considered).
  • Do not put your name anywhere on the script, file, or file name.

The Following Materials Will Not Be Considered:

Feature-length screenplays, reality-based comedies or dramas, treatments, outlines, plays, short stories, books, graphics, magazine/newspaper articles, poems, headshots, audio/video tapes, or other digital media. If it's not on the Accepted Shows list or your comedy pilot, please do not submit it!

Please note: Submissions that do not adhere to these guidelines will not be considered.

Accepted Shows (2021)

  • A.P. Bio
  • Atlanta
  • Awkwafina is Nora from Queens
  • Baby-Sitters Club (2020)
  • Big Mouth
  • Black-ish
  • Bob <3 Abishola
  • Bob's Burgers
  • Breeders
  • Central Park
  • Dickinson
  • Dollface
  • Family Reunion
  • Gentefied
  • Grown-ish
  • Harley Quinn
  • Letterkenny
  • Mixed-ish
  • Mr. Iglesias

  • Mr. Mayor
  • Mythic Quest
  • Never Have I Ever
  • PEN15
  • Raven's Home
  • Rick and Morty
  • Saved by the Bell (2020)
  • South Park
  • Tacoma FD
  • Ted Lasso
  • The Conners
  • The Goldbergs
  • The Great North
  • The Last O.G.
  • The Neighborhood
  • The Unicorn
  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Woke
  • Young Sheldon
Apply Online

Submission Materials to Include:

  • Completed application questions - some of these are long, so start your application early.
  • One spec script in .pdf format (this applies to both individual writers and writing teams).
  • One original comedy pilot in .pdf format (this applies to both individual writers and writing teams).
  • One-page resume in .pdf format.
  • Completed and digitally signed Submission Release form and Schedule A for each script. These can be downloaded from the link above the document upload section.

Complete Your Online Application

Beginning July 1st, you can start your application for the Nickelodeon Writing Program. Submissions must be uploaded before 11:59pm PT on August 1st.

  • All submission materials should be completed and uploaded to the Nickelodeon online submission platform Coverfly. All necessary forms can be downloaded via links embedded in the application.
  • Once in the platform, fill in the form with your "Project Info" about your spec from the Accepted Shows List.
  • Projects written by writing teams should only be submitted once. On the first page of the checkout form, writers will have the option to add one additional writer by clicking on the plus sign (+) next to the name fields.
  • Upload a .pdf of your spec script following the provided instructions. Leave off all identifiable information. At this stage, you will be asked to provide a few additional details about the script.
  • Choose the Program "Package" and "Add to Cart."
  • Give us some "Additional Info" including your contact details, a signed Schedule A form, and a signed Release form (one for each member in the case of writing teams) for each script you submit (spec and pilot). Both forms can be downloaded from the link above the document upload section.
  • We'll also need a resume in .pdf format. Please be sure to fill out all required fields and answer all questions or you will not be able to submit your application.
  • Finally, "Check Out" (at no cost) to complete your submission.
  • Don't wait until the last minute! We advise that you give yourself at least two weeks prior to the August 1st deadline to complete your submission. No exceptions will be made for late submissions regardless of circumstances.
  • If you are experiencing problems with the online application, please contact the technical support team at Coverfly by scrolling to the bottom of their site homepage and clicking "Contact."

Thank you for applying to the Nickelodeon Writing Program. Good luck!


- Nick Writing Program -



You must be 18 years or older to be considered for the Program.


Yes, the Program is a full-time position for up to 1 year; however, employment is on an “at-will” basis. Due to the intensive nature of the Program, you may not hold other employment or be enrolled in school on a full-time basis during the Program period, if it will interfere with any aspect of your time commitment to the Program.


Although professional writing experience is not necessary (i.e. having worked as a writer), a strong writing background is encouraged.


Yes, all Viacom employees are eligible to apply for the Program.


The submission period will open on July 1st and runs through midnight (PST) on August 1st.


You should submit your application through Nickelodeon’s online submission portal which you can link to in the "Apply Online" section. Once inside the portal, you will need to create a Coverfly log-in and password to set-up your own user account.


Once your online application has been completed and all of the requirements on the checklist have been uploaded, you will receive an email confirming that your application was successfully submitted for review.


No. Spec scripts can only be for half-hour comedic television series (please see "How o Apply" for the Accepted Shows List). Feature length specs will not be accepted.


No, all spec scripts must be based on half-hour comedies that are on air and currently being produced for primetime network, cable, Netflix, Hulu, or some other digital provider. Please refer to our Accepted Shows List in the "How To Apply" section of the website.


No – an applicant may NOT submit more than one spec.


No, your spec script is not required to be of a Nickelodeon show, nor does it need to be kid-friendly. As the Submission Guidelines state, your spec script should be based on any half hour comedy that is on our Accepted Shows List.


Yes. Scripts MUST BE TYPED and presented in the standard, industry-accepted format for sitcoms. Handwritten submissions will not be reviewed. Should you have questions about which formats are acceptable, there are publications as well as many additional online resources available. The computer program “Final Draft” is also a great aid in assisting in formatting your script. <br /> Please do not include a cover page. Make sure to number each page, and have the show name in the center of the header, and the title of the episode in the center of the footer. Scripts must be uploaded in pdf format.


The standard length for a half hour live action single camera comedy is, on average, 35 pages. The standard length for a half hour live action multi-camera comedy is 45 pages.


Unfortunately, for legal reasons, we are unable to provide you with any network materials.


The Nick Writing Program is completely based on writing in both animation and live-action. There are no drawing requirements as part of the submission process as writing is the focus of our Program. You will not be able to upload your resume reel nor should you include any storyboards.


No, we are a writing-focused program. We do not need headshots or an acting resume. If any such materials are uploaded in any part of your application your submission will be disqualified.


Yes. As a part of the review process, all applicants must submit a professional resume and an autobiographical summary. Applications that do not include both of these items will not be considered complete and you will not be able to submit online.


Due to the high volume of submissions to our Program, we are unable to provide you with such feedback.


It varies, but we can accept up to four per year for General Track. The Preschool track will only accept up to one writer.


Writers begin the Program in January.


The Program takes place at Nickelodeon Studios in Burbank, CA. Yes, writers who are accepted will need to relocate to the LA area. Roundtrip airfare and one month’s furnished accommodations are provided. However, all transportation (once in LA) and any moving costs (of personal effects) are the individual writer’s responsibility.


No. The Preschool Track only accepts submissions from individual writers at this time.


Not at this time. The Preschool Track is only open to applicants who are currently authorized to work in the U.S.


No early education training is needed. All successful shows start with great characters and tell a good story. Once a strong foundation is built, the "educational" portion is then layered in.


Yes, you can apply to both tracks, but you must create and complete two separate applications in Coverfly. (Please note that only domestic applicants are currently eligible to apply to the Preschool Track. Writing teams may not apply to the Preschool Track.)

Do you have a list of recommended reading to prepare myself for the Writing Program?

Why, Yes we do! We recommend the following books to help you prepare yourself for the Nick Writing Program: 1. Writing for Episodic Television: From Freelance to Showrunner by John Wirth and Jeff Melvoin 2. Small Screen, Big Picture by Chad Gervitch 3. Story by Robert McKee 4. Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger 5. Created By...Inside the Minds of TV's Top Show Creators by Steven Priggé 6. Inside the Room by Linda Venus 7. Change Your Story Change Your Life by Jennifer Grisanti 8. Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger 9. Successful Sitcom Writing by Jurgen Wolff 10. Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the Box by Alex Epstein

What are the requirements for the original pilot sample?

Your original comedy pilot can be for any audience, live-action or animated, and must be half-hour in length. It should demonstrate your unique voice as a writer, and your laugh out loud comedy writing skills. The rest is up to you.

Will Nickelodeon own my original pilot if I submit it?

No. The original pilot will be submitted for use as a writing sample only. Nickelodeon will not own the work, and it will not be optioned for development, purchased, or produced. It might, however, be workshopped during the program as an exercise. You will need to fill out a standard release form which will allow us to read the sample, and If you’re concerned about the intricacies/legalities, be sure to read the form carefully.

Current Writers

Angel Hobbs
Angel Hobbs
2021/2022 Writing Program
Hunter Toro
Hunter Toro
2021/2022 Writing Program
Saeed Crumpler
Saeed Crumpler
2021/2022 Writing Program
Adam Lujan
Adam Lujan
2021/2022 Writing Program
Angel Hobbs
Angel Hobbs
2021/2022 Writing Program

Angel Hobbs was born and raised in LA in a very diverse black and brown community up until middle school when her parents, wanting to provide a ‘better life’ for her and her siblings, moved to a predominantly white suburb called Rancho Cucamonga, California. Once there, Angel turned to watching and mimicking classic Black Sitcoms as a way to stay connected to her ‘Blackness.’

Angel would walk around her house, school, and mall (when that was still a thing) pretending to be characters in her own made-up storylines. And yes, she’d act out the kissing scenes. And yes, it was awkward when her classmates caught her, because the only thing worse that having an imaginary friend is having an imaginary lover.

Heartbroken, Angel decided to follow a less ‘weird’ path by doing the one cool thing she knew how to do: sports! Angel ran track and went on to represent the US as a world championship meet, but here dreams were cut short when she had a career-ending injury her senior year of college at UC Berkeley.

So, Angel turned to Silicon-Valley and landed a job as a Solutions Engineer, but it never quite felt right, and she’d often turn to binge-watching TV in lieu of therapy. One show in particular was HBO’s Silicon Valley. She loved the way they made fun of tech in a smart and poignant way. Then it hit her; the thing she enjoyed as a kid – imagining – was a thing people could do for a living! Writing TV!

She enrolled in TV writing courses at NYU’s extension program, performed stand-up comedy by night, and worked on her samples by day. Now an Engineer turned Writer, Angel loves to write stories about flawed characters learning to embrace their weirdness at the center, because that weirdness is usually your superpower.

Hunter Toro
Hunter Toro
2021/2022 Writing Program

Hunter is a writer and comedian from the lower back tattoo of the United States: Florida. She grew up near the swamps, where she’d pull her brother out of quicksand and watch her dad dump the corpses of beloved pets “for the gators to take care of.” Developing a dark sense of humor and a reliance on therapy was inevitable. She’s from a loud, mixed family—her father is Puerto Rican, her mother is white—which meant Hunter was never quite sure where she fit in. She turned that feeling of alienation into a sense of humor. She was an avid reader and storyteller from a young age, concocting tales so appealing about the two Christmases in her divorced family, her Jewish friend begged their parents to divorce, too. When she wasn’t buried in books, she was watching cartoons or Oprah and crushing diet cokes like a middle-aged woman going through something.  

Hunter has always known she wanted to be a writer. In high school, she also discovered a love of performing and spent a few years as a super sincere theater kid. She apologizes to everyone she made listen to her harmonize in that four-year span. (In fact, you may even be entitled to compensation).  Later, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hunter studied English lit only to realize she was not A Serious Person, and therefore probably not The Next Great American Novelist. In need of a new dream, she blended her love of performing and writing to pursue a career in TV. She started taking improv classes, writing sketches, and teaching herself screenwriting. To pay the bills, she got a job at a hospital as a pediatric radiation oncology coordinator. She was worried the life-or-death nature of the job would make her comedy writing dreams seem unimportant, but instead found it confirmed that making people laugh was her calling. Soon after, she started working as an assistant at Bento Box Animation Studios. While Hunter loves all things comedy, animation has a special place in her heart. As someone with big feelings and a manic sense of humor, she feels seen by cartoons.

Recently, Hunter, who has been described as “Coen Brothers meets SpongeBob,” was selected for the 2020 Black List x Women In Film Episodic Lab. As a lifelong fan of Nickelodeon, Hunter is covered in bruises from pinching herself that she works here now. Whether she is writing stories for animation or live action, Hunter always writes what she wishes she could’ve seen growing up: Latinx pride, blended, nontraditional families, and complicated female protagonists. And most of all, she writes to make kids who aren’t sure what else to do, laugh.  

Saeed Crumpler
Saeed Crumpler
2021/2022 Writing Program

Transitioning from one competitive field into another competitive field is not easy, but for Saeed, nothing ever came easy. Saeed’s first time applying to the Nickelodeon writing program ended in rejection. The first song he ever recorded in the basement of his friend’s house, ended with his verse being removed from the song. Some might call him crazy. Others call him talented. He likes to call himself driven.

Saeed’s love for storytelling and television has always been a part of his life. His film story begins at San Francisco State University, where he started a career path with an undeclared major. Saeed simultaneously fell in love with the local music scene, a move that ultimately helped influence his major: screenwriting and cinema. After graduation, however, he didn’t know how to break into Hollywood. As a Black man from Oakland, Saeed knew no one in the industry—there were no role models for him to follow. But there were role models in music like E-40, MC Hammer, and Keisha Cole, so Saeed followed in their footsteps instead.

After graduating he took the Bay Area music industry by storm. For over a decade, Saeed became a local Hip-Hop star gaining fans around the world. Although he wasn’t famous, Saeed considers himself Bay-mous! It was a fulfilling career for the music enthusiast and one that also set him up for success with his most recent venture: becoming a screenwriter. In both music and screenwriting, the underlying glue is story, and Saeed had a lot of stories and life experience he wanted to put out into the universe.

Feeling limited in music, in 2018 he decided to fully immerse himself in the screenwriting art form once again. Inspired by an interview he heard with Steven Canals, one of the showrunners behind FX’s Pose, Saeed took his inheritance his grandmother left him when she passed and enrolled in UCLA’s online television/screenwriting program. The very same program Canals took years earlier.

His journey hasn’t been typical and exemplifies that a person can achieve their dreams despite preconceived barriers. At Nickelodeon, Saeed looks forward to developing and honing his comedy writing skills and being an example for other up-and-coming writers that “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Adam Lujan
Adam Lujan
2021/2022 Writing Program

Adam Lujan is a queer, LA-based TV writer. He grew up the son of U.S. Air Force vets in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Though known for its picturesque outdoorsy activities, Colorado was wasted on an asthmatic, indoor kid like Adam. Instead of hiking the Rockies, he ignited his imagination through magical double features of The Wizard of Oz and Snow White. He fell in love with television by laughing with I Love Lucy, speed-talking with the Gilmore Girls, and traversing space and time with Doctor Who. 

When Dorothy and Snow White are your first friends, of course you turn out to be a little over the rainbow. Growing up openly queer in conservative suburbia was... Not ideal. But, art, once again, was his salvation. Through his storytelling, he could imagine a world with queer people at the center. And, being half-Mexican, he could explore his multi-layered identity and heritage in his characters. He could tell stories with humor and heart. Blending genre elements, he could create the heroes and epic stories he desperately needed as a kid. Stories where queer characters aren't tragic, or sidekicks, or struggling with their identity – instead, where they're living messy, funny lives and being their own heroes.


Today, he strives to do all that, and more, by writing for television – and, hopefully, making TV gayer.

When he's not writing or binge-rewatching his favorite shows, Adam enjoys long walks, long drives, and long loaves of bread. His veins are more full of coffee than blood, but he'll never say no to a nap. And while his sedentary lifestyle would fit right into the feline kingdom, he is in fact allergic to cats – the animals and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

Adam earned his BA in Film Production at the University of Denver in 2015. And in 2018, he got his MFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. His pilot Fernando won the David and Lynn Angell College Comedy Fellowship at the 2019 HUMANITAS Prize Awards, and the project is now in development with MRK Productions and Roadside Attractions.  

Read Bio

Writing Program Alum

2000/01 2001/02 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Courtney Lilly
2000/2001 Writing Program Alum

A graduate of Columbia University, Los Angeles comedy writer Courtney Lilly began his career as a journalist for the Providence Journal-Bulletin. In 2000 he won a Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship, moving him out to Los Angeles where he has written for shows such as Fox’s ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, UPN’s EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS and TBS’s MY BOYS. He is currently a writer and Supervising Producer for Fox’s “The Cleveland Show.”

Christopher Moore
Christopher Moore
2000/2001 Writing Program Alum

Christopher holds a BA degree in Radio Television and Film with an emphasis on Screenwriting. He also holds a second BA degree in Psychology from Cal State-Northridge.

Christopher received his big break in the screenwriting world when he won the Nick Writing Fellowship, where he was put under contract for one year to write two films.

His original screenplay God’s Child was optioned by Public I Entertainment. He has since adapted this screenplay into a self-published book, which has sold over 15,000 copies in one year.

He is currently working on a project called Da’ Street with Double Dutch Entertainment, which is currently being developed for Lions Gate Entertainment. Christopher is represented by Brad Rosenfeld at Preferred Artists, Talent Agency.

Christopher Moore
2000/2001 Writing Program Alum

Christopher holds a BA degree in Radio Television and Film with an emphasis on Screenwriting. He also holds a second BA degree in Psychology from Cal State-Northridge.

Christopher received his big break in the screenwriting world when he won the Nick Writing Fellowship, where he was put under contract for one year to write two films.

His original screenplay God’s Child was optioned by Public I Entertainment. He has since adapted this screenplay into a self-published book, which has sold over 15,000 copies in one year.

He is currently working on a project called Da’ Street with Double Dutch Entertainment, which is currently being developed for Lions Gate Entertainment. Christopher is represented by Brad Rosenfeld at Preferred Artists, Talent Agency.

Ken Kwok
2001/2002 Writing Program Alum

Ken Kwok is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated photojournalist from the Bay Area. After eight years in journalism and working at newspapers around the country, he enrolled in the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television and graduated with an MFA in Screenwriting. In 2001, Ken was selected as a Nickelodeon Writing Fellow where he joined the writing staffs of “Taina” and “All That 8″. He has also written for the Nickelodeon show “Romeo!” Last season, Ken was a staff writer on the John Wells produced “Jonny Zero” for Fox.

Ken lives in the Pasadena area with his wife Christina and two daughters Emily and Hannah.

Jon Oscar Gary
Jon Oscar Gary
2001/2002 Writing Program Alum

For J.G. (as a 50 plus Black male writer) telling his story as a creator resonates with other groups whose experiences have been largely ignored by the mainstream entertainment industry - until now.

As the audience for diverse stories widens, J.G. continuously creates stories representing his diverse students which represent BIPOC, women , LGBTQIA, disabled, Gen Z, and now Alpha Gen, communities seeking to find their voice in Hollywood. With the recent COVID-19 and social unrest in the BIPOC communities, J.G. believes his wisdom could be present-day support in many creative rooms.

A winner of several film awards and recognitions representing diverse groups, J.G.'s most memorable accomplishments began in the 90s with Nickelodeon—where he witnessed diversity transition into more of a reality. He had the opportunity to shadow multiple directors from three different shows (Journey of Allen Strange, Secret Lives of Alex Mack, Journey of Allen Strange, and Cousin Skeeter). This opportunity preceded the 2001 Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship. After this stint, with fellow school chums, J.G. co-creating Red Giant Productions. This company pipelined over 50 production students of color, women, LGBTQIA, disabilities, and veterans into receiving full-time hiring opportunities. Red Giant was the inspiration for his doctoral dissertation (2011).

Furthering his purpose, J.G. is a voting member for the NAACP Image Awards; he most recently freelanced a letter published in the 2020 Image Awards event magazine. J.G. is also a member of the USC/Hanks/Miller Black Alumni group.

During the pandemic, J.G. documented 17 protests (which is in documentary development), and wrote a journal article on Black women leadership, accepted for 2021 academic peer review.

J.G. has a BA from UC Berkeley, an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in film, and a Doctorate in Education from Pepperdine University.

When not developing projects and writing specs, J.G. spends his time improving his writing and directing skill sets enthusiastically waiting for Hollywood to reopen!

To the new Nick Fellows, enjoy, it’s your time!

Dwayne Colbert
2003/2004 Writing Program Alum

Having worked in animation production for seven years prior in both TV and feature production, Dwayne was more than happy to move over to the creative side of the process when he was chosen as a fellow for the 2003-2004 Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship. That is, until he actually started writing. He soon realized that it doesn’t matter if you’re a writer or a P.A., making cartoons is difficult, but he still enjoys the collaborative environment.

During his stint as a fellow, he wrote two produced episodes of the currently Nickelodeon shows, “My Life as a Teenage Robot” and “The X’s,” respectively. Since the fellowship has ended, Dwayne and his writing partner, Shahrzad have recently penned another produced episode of “My Life as a Teenage Robot” and have new projects in various stages of development.

Shahrzad Safai
2003/2004 Writing Program Alum

Shahrzad Warkentin was born and raised in sunny Culver City, CA, where from an early age she knew she was destined to be a writer. After all, what other job would allow her to make stuff up for a living? She went on to study the ancient art of Screenwriting with Jesuit monks at Loyola Marymount University.

After spending a year working at Nickelodeon as a 2003-2004 Writing Fellow, she went on to co-write episodes for two Nickelodeon shows. She currently resides with her husband in Santa Monica, CA where she continues to toil away making stuff up.

Her hobbies include freestyle luge, sword swallowing, and training Bolivian circus bears to ride unicycles. She dedicates her work to her loving husband, her parents, and of course the big man upstairs… Elvis Presley.

Jessica Lopez
2003/2004 Writing Program Alum

As a child, Jessica Lopez dreamed of being one of Charlie’s Angels. Specifically, she wanted to be just like Farrah Fawcett, who in her eyes was a triple B: blonde, buxom and beautiful. She remembers studying her every move for the entire hour-long episode. By the end of the show’s run, she admits that she had those hair-flipping, booty-shakin’, karate-chop moves down to a T. As she grew a little older, however, she realized that though she could pour a bottle of peroxide in her hair, get plastic surgery and pack on the make-up she was just never going to be Farrah. This experience helped Jessica realize that there are very few Latinos on TV for other Latinos to look up to. And this has fueled her passion to write for film and television as she aspires to write more realistic roles for Latinos. Born and raised in Oxnard, California, Jessica is a graduate of the University of Southern California. After graduation, she secured a job as a staff writer for Lowrider Magazine. If there was ever a place to inspire a sitcom or a film that was it. Jessica completed a treatment for a sitcom pilot based on her experiences as the only female staff writer in the male-dominated world of lowriders. Eager to write the bigger story, Jessica has since adapted her experiences into a screenplay, Lo-Writing, which was selected by the National Association of Latino Independent Producers to be performed as a staged reading in Tucson, Arizona by the American Repertory Academy.

Aaron Amerling
2004/2005 Writing Program Alum

Aaron graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in East Asian History. Contrary to popular belief, and the promises of his professors, there were no big Asian History firms back east. Fame and fortune in the History biz on hold, Aaron quickly found a job in television. Within a short period of time he was writing and directing cheesy national commercials and infomercials.

Aaron graduated this semester at the top of his class with a Masters Degree in Film and Television from San Diego State University. While in school Aaron received SDSU’s highest award for scriptwriting. A comedy television spec earned Aaron the acclaimed Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship, beating out thousands of other writers. A short written by Aaron was a winner in the screenwriting category at the 2004 BestFest, the largest student film festival in the country. Aaron has also received the National Academy of Television Art and Sciences highest honor for students who show “promise” in television production, and was awarded it at the 2004 regional Emmys.

Rachel Ross
2004/2005 Writing Program Alum

They say everyone remembers their first love, but Rachel has three: story, teaching, and Troy from 1st grade. As a tiny girl, Rachel would string letters together on a page, illustrate it (usually horses with 10 legs) and “read” her writing. To anyone who knew her, it was painfully clear—she had the bug and there was no known cure. The prognosis was good with the proper treatment: Lots and lots of pencils, paper, and time alone to write.

Too many years to count later, Rachel still has the fever. In 2002, the pull of writing was strong enough to yank her away from three years of teaching 4th grade. She packed up and moved across two states to attend Chapman University as a graduate student pursuing an MFA in Screenwriting. She won a talent award/fellowship from Chapman, was a finalist for the Institute for Humane Studies Film and Fiction Scholarship, was nominated to be a Hayde Filmmaker-in-Residence Scholar, and finally was picked to be a Nickelodeon Writing Fellow. For Rachel, it has been a dream come true to work with network executives and be immersed in the culture of animation and television writing, and she looks forward to continuing to hone her craft. As for Troy, well, you know how it goes in first grade. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Kymberli Winter
2004/2005 Writing Program Alum

Kymberli discovered early on that writing was a powerful means of self expression. She would leave poems by her mother’s bedside apologizing for her behavior, because no, she did not want her mother’s head to “explode.” (No wonder Kymberli thought herself a seasoned poet by the age of seven; these notes were given on a daily basis). Not limiting herself to poetry, Kymberli took to songwriting at the age of nine and was shocked when “Blackjack” didn’t make the charts. Constantly seeking creative avenues, she ventured into acting, but then realized no other art form provided the same creative freedom of writing. With nothing more than fortitude, foolhardy naïveté, and her love for children and writing, Kym formed her own publishing company to self-publish a series of children’s books. After marrying and having two nunions of her own, Kymberli went back to school to simultaneously earn her B.A., Liberal Studies and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. On the verge of graduation, Kym still longed to pursue her creative talents when a friend informed her that yes, there was a way she could utilize both her educational background and creative skills – The Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship Program. The heavens parted and the angels sang, leaving Kymberli feeling more hopeful than when she wrote “Blackjack,” only to have her spirits sink when she realized the Program’s deadline was in two days. Faced with the momentous task of writing her first TV script, all while going through finals (she didn’t want to lose her Summa Cum Laude status), Kymberli wrote like she had never written before. Finishing “Bubblicious,” the title of her Spongebob Squarepants script, left Kymberli with such satisfaction. One could have knocked her over with a feather when just days prior to accepting a teaching position, she was notified of her acceptance as a Nickelodeon Writing Fellow. Now…she’s at a loss for words.

Sameer Asad
2005/2006 Writing Program Alum

Raised in Yorba Linda, California, also known as the birthplace of Richard Nixon, Sameer grew up in one of the most cultured, diverse, and progressive cities in the world. Partaking in the high arts of popsicle stick crafts and thumb paint, it was quite evident that Sameer had found his niche at an early age. In high school, that fervor to express himself only grew stronger as he dazzled his friends with his short stories and expository speeches. Having lost many friends, and consequently not being invited to parties from there on, Sameer took his extra free time to start pursuing his writing career.

Graduating suma cum laude with double honors from USC in Cinema-TV and Classics, Sameer knew his hard work would translate into success in the real world. Being unemployed for three months, Sameer started stealing his roommates possessions and sold them on eBay. After making $1.62, Sameer retired from the business of online auctioning. He camped outside Nick Studios and started panhandling. Ever since, he’s been squatting in the Writing Fellow’s Office. No one quite sure knows why he’s still here… but they’re too afraid to ask him to leave.

May Chan
2005/2006 Writing Program Alum

Born and raised in the mean suburbs of L.A., I grew up watching a lot of TV. I mean a lot of it. From Ren and Stimpy to I Love Lucy to Jeopardy, I watched it all. I decided at a that when I grew up, I would get a job where I could watch TV all day. Or work as a grocery store cashier. What can I say; the beep-beep scanners fascinated me.

Unfortunately, there was no “cashier” major in college. So when that dream was dashed, I decided to pursue a career in film and television. I took out a huge student loan to watch movies and party by the beach at UC Santa Barbara. It was there that I learned writing was my niche. After my four years was up, I left school with my B.A. degree in one hand and my promissory notes in the other.

I worked a few production assistant jobs, trying desperately to get my name in IMDB. I finally found a steady job working as a closed-captioner for television. You know, when you’re at a bar, and the TV is on, and words pop up on the screen? Yes, someone does type that. And no, I’m not a fast typist.

So I finally found that job where I get to watch TV for a living! Hooray! But alas, that was not enough, so I continued writing spec scripts, one right after another. And one fine day, after two years of typing someone else’s words and on the brink of carpal tunnel, I get a call from Nickelodeon. And the rest is history. Or is it just the beginning?

Ron Holsey
2005/2006 Writing Program Alum

Ron started out writing a humor column for his high school newspaper. He transitioned his ability to make fun of the Spice Girls into writing for a comedy musical revue while in college. He’s a recipient of Northwestern University’s Stephen B. May Scriptwriting Award and a research grant to study Belgian cinema in Brussels, where he spent a summer living with a Belgian communist (whose mother made delicious waffles.)

His stage plays include “The Best Christmas Murder Ever” (winner, Carolinas Contemporary Playwrights Festival, 2004, Baltimore Playwrights Festival, 2005) and “The Fabulous Dr. Butterscotch” (Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art, 2004). His short screenplay, “Normal People” was one of three finalists in the IFP-Chicago production fund and he is a recipient of a citation from the American Advertising Federation for copywriting.

A native of the Washington, DC area, Ron grew up on Nickelodeon, from “Pinwheel” and “Today’s Special” to “Salute Your Shorts” and “The Adventures of Pete and Pete.” His favorite cartoons are “Ren and Stimpy” and “The Mysterious Cities of Gold.”

Ron loves great poetry. He is also very partial to tea.

Jessica Gao
2006/2007 Writing Program Alum

Born in Beijing, China, and raised in just about every city in the San Gabriel Valley, Jessica moved around a lot during her childhood.

Thankfully, she was able to stay in one place during her middle and high school years in West Covina, which gave her the time and space to go through several embarrassing yet awesome teenage phases. To this day, she maintains that Covina has the best thrift stores and secretively guards their locations with her life.

In an attempt to avoid any instances of reading and writing, Jessica majored in Art at UCLA. By the second quarter into this troubled relationship, Jessica realized she kind of sort of hated Art and most of his friends. But her mama didn’t raise a quitter, so she stuck it out and received a B.A. in 2004. Along the way, she organized two comic book conventions through the UCLA Campus Events Commission, thereby adding “Huge Nerd” to her growing list of titles. Though she claims to have never cheated on Art, rumors of a torrid affair with Sociology have plagued her since.

After a year or two of living “the crazy life,” (which apparently to Jessica meant working at a convenience store, an entertainment marketing agency, running away to live in England, managing an art gallery and then returning to America as a fabulous temporary office worker) she hung up her walkin’ boots and settled down with her childhood sweetheart – Writing. The two have immediate plans to make script-babies as soon as possible.

Itai Grunfeld
2007/2008 Writing Program Alum

Itai failed Chemistry. A lot.

After flunking the midterm for a second time during his repeat year of Chemistry 101, Dr. Lefkovitz asked Itai what he wished to do with his life that would not require an even remedial understanding of the basic principles of high school Chemistry. Itai thought long and hard and then, with as straight a face as he could muster, responded, “I want to be a writer.” After the laughter subsided and the pity set in, Dr. Lefkovitz awarded Itai a passing grade of sixty-five.

Shocked that it worked, Itai used the same self-deprecating pity ploy to get out of Geometry, Economics and even Sex Ed, until he found himself in NYU’s Dramatic Writing Program. Unable to convince his writing teachers that he really wanted to be a Chemist, Itai was finally forced to start writing.

Upon graduation Itai left home (at the insistence of his parents) and moved to LA. Wasting little time, Itai quickly established himself as a young aspiring writer: leasing and insuring a Honda civic, obtaining a telemarketing position and spending his weekends manning the box office and cleaning the bathrooms at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.

When asked for advice by other aspiring writers, Itai strongly advocates mimicking the following three steps from which he has never deviated: (1) get a name no one can pronounce with no direct translation other than Japanese in which it means “ouch”, (2) be born in Israel, move to London, then to the Bronx followed by Brooklyn and make sure you get three passports out of the deal, and, above all else, (3) fail chemistry. A lot.

Kerri Grant
2007/2008 Writing Program Alum

Kerri was born in Jamaica and when she was 11 years old, settled in New York where she began writing really bad poems shortly thereafter. She got better and really liked writing so it only makes sense that when she went to The George Washington University known for its International Affairs program, she declared accounting as her major.

She stood by accounting publicly, wearing the navy blue suits, nurturing its payables, keeping its Securities and Exchange Commissions secrets. While in dimly lit corners of her bored and confused out of her mind, mind, she wrote. She was careful to keep writing hidden, only appearing with it on napkins and post-it notes and in journals.

Then came the day that she had to admit that she’d been consorting with metaphors, then later… characters and dialogue. She left accounting, threw away her watch (purely for the effect) and never looked back.

A stumbled upon advertising class led to a lucky internship in the field of, what Kerri understood only as “Not-Advertising,” or a TV station called Nickelodeon. A slew of bizarre characters (fictional and otherwise), a long love affair with writing and a very expensive vial of “let Kerri into the fellowship” potion later, has led to her current role as a Nickelodeon writing fellow. Now writing appears with Kerri openly in registered software and sometimes can even be heard out loud. She hopes they have an official coming out very, very soon.

Ed Valentine
2007/2008 Writing Program Alum

Ed grew up in New Jersey, but don’t hold that against him. Most recently he hails from NYC, and he’s now thrilled to be in sunny California.

Ed has been writing steadily since age 5. His first word was “tree,” but he’s written many other cool words since, such as “rutabaga” and “marmoset.” After graduating from Boston College, he was lured away from writing by stints as an NBC page, a puppeteer, a fourth grade teacher, and a writing instructor at NYU. Throughout all these jobs, though, he was secretly seeking the chance to make his living as a writer.

So he threw himself into evening playwriting classes and wrote plays featuring crocodile-faced presidents, boys with lobster hands, and figures from Americana such as Lizzie Borden. In time he won awards, saw his work performed across the U.S., and was even named by The Dramatist Magazine as one of “50 Writers to Watch” (which took the sting out of not being named one of People’s “50 Most Beautiful”).

Ed enrolled full-time at NYU to pursue a Masters in playwriting, only to find himself invited to come play with the smart, savvy TV folks there. He began to write television specs and won an award for Excellence in Children’s TV. Ed’s application to Nickelodeon’s Writing Fellowship found favor, and, well: here he is!

He sends a shout-out to his partner, a violinist, who’s holding down the fort in Manhattan. When Ed’s not writing, you can find him trying to spot dolphins in the sparkling Pacific. He’s absolutely delighted to be at Nick – this is a dream come true.

Ivory Floyd
2008/2009 Writing Program Alum

Many moons ago, Ivory was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, thus making him a cheese-head for life (to this day, Brett Favre is still a touchy subject). Unfortunately, Ivory wasn’t born with fangs or claws, which made him an easy meal for badgers, so his family decided to move to California’s Inland Empire, eventually settling in a funny sounding town called Rancho Cucamonga.

Ivory had always feared math and numbers in general, but loved writing classes, so after graduating from the University of California Irvine, he moved back home to Rancho and over the next two years, commuted to LA where he performed script coverage for a number of independent production companies. In his off time, he worked any job under the sun back home, ranging from Substitute Teacher to Abercrombie and Fitch sales person. Abercrombie and Fitch. Not Fun.

One day, a friend of Ivory’s emailed him a link to the Nickelodeon Fellowship Program and he managed to get all the way to the finals, but his arch-nemesis Professor Nervous popped him his patented Fear Ray and before you knew it, Ivory was back in Rancho drowning his sorrows in cookies and video games. By the way, he is now VERY good at Tekken.

After a month of self-pity, Ivory was determined to show the world what a kid from Rancho can do. So he re-dedicated his focus to writing, applied for the Fellowship the following year and after dodging yet another Fear Ray, was blessed enough to be chosen as a Fellow. Today you’ll find Ivory in Burbank, California, where he hopes his love of monkeys, ninjas, and professional wrestling will lead him to a successful writing career.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, his family and friends rock. They rock hard.

Jenny Cho
2008/2009 Writing Program Alum

Jenny Cho first blinked her eyes in Silver Spring, Maryland, a few hours after her father’s car broke down at the I-495 exit and her mother had to book it to the hospital on foot. Even then, Jenny learned that timing was everything. Like when her mom and dad bought a huge television set (good timing) and the last Betamax VCR on sale (bad timing), so that Jenny could make friends with Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo after school.

When Bugs was cancelled, Jenny took up oil and acrylic painting and found a second home in the museums of Washington, D.C. While majoring in art history at Georgetown University, Jenny traveled to Taiwan to meet her long lost relatives. Her uncle’s family raised pigs in Kinmen, a small island four miles off the coast of China. The relatives were rather unimpressed with Jenny, who was useless at cooking and spoke Mandarin with a valley accent. Her experiences in Asia, especially the ones that involved pig feed and flatulence, inspired her to write stories about growing up in different cultures. Many of her favorite cartoons share her love of pigs and flatulence, as well as jokes about other things. But fear not, Jenny understands that there’s more to life than fart jokes. That’s why she applied to film school. She was accepted in the MFA program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she wrote her tail off and landed a book deal during her second year at school. After applying for the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship back in February and trying not to think about it for several months, she couldn’t believe it when she got The Call.

She thanks her mom and dad for allowing her to watch television, especially cartoons.

Bobby Tedder
2008/2009 Writing Program Alum

Bobby Tedder hails from Atlanta, which is currently posing as L.A.’s southern twin: one can see the resemblance in the mind-numbing traffic, flashy celebrity photo ops and a beautiful convergence of cultures. Much of his story’s exposition takes place in South Carolina – where he grew up and developed that whole writer-as-identity thing.

Bobby recognized that his fascination with the written word was more than a passing flirtation in fourth grade. Unlike with division and multiplication tables, he did not have to be dragged kicking and screaming to complete those creative writing portions of language arts tests. (He sends a well deserved shout-out to an overactive imagination and thought process manifesting itself in pictures). Thus – cue the violins – the love story began.

Fast forward – kill the violins — to Bobby’s college period. Strangely enough, he initially enrolled at Francis Marion University as a psychology major. Chalk that up to an unrelenting curiosity about people, those complicated yet simple ants of the universe. Bobby’s Eureka! moment; however, came after only a couple semesters: Examine the human condition the best way you know how, he said to himself while cramming Freud down his throat on the eve of a midterm. (Say goodbye to psychoanalysis-related indigestion; that pink stuff in the bottle could only help so much). Bobby switched his major to mass communication, which he later parlayed into an internship and full-time gig with a local daily newspaper.

Throughout his six-year journalism career, Bobby reported on everything from presidential politics to troubled professional athletes in need of a hug. Awards for excellence in columns and feature articles from both the Georgia and South Carolina press associations were career highlights. It is also during that time that he encountered a myriad of contemporary issues and situations confronting youth and their authority figures. The seed that would ultimately become a prospective children’s entertainment career was planted here, as vague ideas targeting audiences of all backgrounds begat more detailed ones and so on. Thus, the television specs began to flow outward. A Nickelodeon viewing veteran, he jumped at the chance to essentially “come home” by way of the writing fellowship.

Lo and behold, everything fell into place. Being that Bobby feels at home wherever, the move to Southern California is a welcome change. In addition to pouring the essence of his creative being wholeheartedly into the fellowship, he is also intent on making tofu and grits the next big thing on the West Coast breakfast circuit. (Sounds disgusting, but so did crunchy peanut butter and grape jam at first.) On a more personal note, Bobby has an affinity for music – with a play list that includes everyone from Big Boi to Bono – and is trylingual. The latter just means that he will try to master any language; four whole semesters of Spanish preceded his current attempt to conquer French.

He sends another shout-out to his extremely supportive wife back in Atlanta and his 11-year-old nephew in South Carolina – a smart young cat who’s managed to teach him about life all over again. Bobby can honestly say that there is no place he would rather be than here, in the land of enduring cartoons and kid-centered sitcoms. Laissez les bon temps roules! (translation: Let the good times roll.)

Stacie Craig
2009/2010 Writing Program Alum

Stacie was born to write, since she couldn’t sing, dance, or mime. She originates from Los Angeles, which is where she started her love affair with writing. She wrote her first novel at the tender age of 6, All About Stacie. Then making her theatrical debut at 7, in a play she wrote, starred in and directed, Magic Shoes.

When Stacie was 9 her mother decided to move to Southern Illinois, which is no where near Chicago. Growing up in the Midwest helped Stacie develop her keen sense of humor, because everything is funnier in Illinois. All through high school and college Stacie did the normal tour of duty, as far as writing was concerned – poems, essays, and standards. Then in graduate school she reunited with her soul mate, theatre.

Stacie attended graduate school at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. There she mastered the craft of playwriting and drinking coffee at night. She also discovered she had a passion for television, especially during finals week. It was this passion and her Mustang that drove her back to Los Angeles with dreams of stardom and Oscars.

Back in Los Angeles, Stacie began working in the glamorous world of television in entry level positions. She was a production assistant, art department assistant, writers’ assistant and casting assistant. Her ability to assist is still unmatched, even by today’s standards. Stacie worked in the entertainment industry in almost every capacity, except writer. Which is why after the birth of her son, she gave up her Hollywood career. Stacie became a public school teacher in South Central Los Angeles.

Although Stacie had given up on working in show business, she never gave up her dream of becoming a writer. In between raising her son and teaching school, Stacie continued to write scripts. She was a mother and a school teacher that had no social life, so she and television became friends again. She began writing for children and loving it. Writing became fun again and something that she enjoyed.

These days Stacie finds herself at the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship not assisting, but actually writing. It’s hard for her to believe, after 8 years in the entertainment industry and 5 years of public school teaching, Stacie is another Hollywood overnight success story.

Gabriel Garza
2009/2010 Writing Program Alum

Baby Gabriel was born in Houston, Texas. He must have been a funny looking kid, because his parents gave him the middle name “Alejandro,” thereby making his initials “G.A.G.” Gabriel didn’t mind this though, as he had not yet gained the ability to spell or recognize tease-promoting name traits.

Most of his young life was spent either in his quiet suburb or visiting relatives in the farmland of South Texas, where he learned to drive a tractor and eat tamales with every meal. As exciting as his life was, he most looked forward to going to bed every night. While everyone else in his house slept, Gabriel laid awake, remembering the dinosaurs, robots, and oh so many lasers he had seen on television earlier in the day. He tried to guess what would happen next in their stories and loved imagining new ways to play with them all.

Life was good, until his parents conspired to kidnap him and move to Southern California. Believing this meant he would have to become a surfer, he emphatically voiced his disapproval. Yet, his parental units could not be swayed and he soon found himself dropped into a predominately Asian neighborhood, underneath the bright California sun. In his new surroundings there were strange foods, a million languages, and lots of funny looks whenever he wore his cowboy boots to school. His only solace was television, nap time, and the only class he enjoyed – English.

Then, one dark and gloomy day in high school…

Gabriel received notice that he’d been rejected from Honors English. The devastation was too great for his theatrically-inclined teenage heart and he woke in the midst of a restless night to shout, “Forget you, Mrs. Montgomery!!! What do I really want to do in life?!” (Note: teacher’s name changed for her own protection.) Instantly, Gabriel thought of the time spent laying awake every night, letting his imagination run wild with all the wondrous things he’d seen on television. He went on to attend film school at Chapman University, where he fell in love with what he saw as the heart of his imagination: writing.

After graduating, he interned at a television production company. He read stacks of scripts, took copious notes, and brewed the best coffee any executive had ever tasted. Soon he was hired as a development assistant and then later as the writers’ assistant on a television series, where he witnessed the birth (and conception, eww) of television episodes on a daily basis.

Sadly, the show was canceled after its first season and Gabriel spent the next year and a half struggling to find a new job. However, he preferred to think that he worked for the government and they paid him to stay home and write. So, he wrote as much as he could and on one bright and sunny day Nickelodeon called with some awesomely awesome news.

Gabriel could not be happier working anywhere else in the world. In many ways, he feels his life has come full circle in a better way than even he could have imagined. He now spends most of his time dreaming up the dinosaurs, robots, and lasers that other children will recall while drifting off to sleep at night.

Jonathan Butler
2009/2010 Writing Program Alum

Born in Buffalo, NY to an ordained minister and a graphic artist, Jonathan thought he would one day find his niche in a combination of his parent’s occupations. Unfortunately it would seem the Sistine Chapel was already painted by some guy named after one of the Ninja Turtles. Undaunted, Jonathan immediately implemented Plan B and moved to a moisture farm on a barren outer rim planet where he yearned to one day join the Rebellion and fight the evil Galactic Empire. When he found out that Rebels actually, like, get shot at and stuff, he decided to become a plumber instead.

After graduating from vocational high school Jonathan left home to volunteer, helping construct schools for international missionaries (where he fell in love with the philanthropic spirit). Upon returning home he started a company testing drinking water, but knew even then he was headed down a path of external inertia instead of his own passion – writing.

Jonathan’s fist published work was a poem which in turn led to writing song lyrics that resulted in a 2004 Billboard Best New Artist Award, but the real prize was realizing the structured economy of poetry was a natural segue into screenwriting. Over the next five years Jonathan voraciously consumed every bit of tutelage he could on the craft. In 2008 he moved from NY to Venice Beach to be closer to ‘Da Biz’ and hopefully write for a newfangled invention called ‘telly-vision’. He wrote a spec for the Fellowship in between Downward Dogs and Sun Salutations during a yoga retreat in Mexico and the rest, as they say, is history.

Jonathan plans to soak up the Nick experience like a talking sponge (wait! – cool idea… has that been done?) so that he can one day give back more than he has received to future Fellows. He also looks forward to broadcasting his newfound mind control powers over the airwaves to influence the malleable minds of kids to NEVER grow up, and maybe one day create a small army of SuperSoaker toting foot soldiers who will take over the world one drenched parent at a time.

But that’s more of a five-year plan.

Kiyong Kim
2010/2011 Writing Program Alum

Kiyong was born in Korea and grew up in Los Angeles. In school, he paid attention in English class, but turned most other classes into his own personal art class and never got caught because it looked like he was just taking really good notes. He drew cartoons of his friends, his one eyed Physics teacher, and once turned in three pages of cartoons for a Calculus test. He went on to art school in Boston to study Illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art, but also took creative writing classes at Emerson College and started to find his voice as a writer.

After school, Kiyong moved back to Los Angeles and worked as a web designer, aka pixel pusher, to pay the bills. He realized the tragedy of being good at something you didn’t like. To maintain his sanity, he took classes in animation, character design, filmmaking, and writing. Writing became his passion above all else. He would write at work, and again, never got caught because it looked like he was just working really hard, but in reality, his goal was to get laid off so he could collect unemployment and have some serious time to write. He told one of his bosses “If we have layoffs, I call dibs.” Unfortunately, that never happened, so he had to continue to write and make movies on nights and weekends.

He wrote his first short script “Brobot”, a somewhat autobiographical story where instead of a kid telling his little brother he’s adopted, he tells him he’s a robot slave. It placed 4th in the Slamdance Screenwriting Competition, and the thought of one day becoming a screenwriter didn’t seem impossible anymore. He studied directing and his short film “Edit>Love” was one of the winners in the Intel Indies Contest by Atomfilms. He also wrote and directed several other short films that have played at festivals and have been picked up for distribution. After making some short films, he wanted to focus on writing and was excited by the medium of television because characters on TV rarely change, which is kind of like how he views people in real life.

His first TV script was for The Office, which he submitted to the Fellowship. He made it through as a Finalist but was a little too nervous in the group interviews and didn’t get selected as a Fellow that year. He felt like Rocky I, where Rocky fought Apollo Creed in the end and although he didn’t win, he didn’t lose either. It was a personal victory, validation that he was good enough to go toe to toe with the champ. So instead of giving up, Kiyong immediately went to work on another script, took some writing classes, and studied improv where his teacher told him the same thing his ex-girlfriends told him, that he needed to listen better and commit more.

After a year of hard work, he got to the point of being a Finalist again. But this year was Rocky II, and (spoiler alert) Rocky wins! Kiyong was accepted into the Fellowship and couldn’t be happier. Now that he’s a Fellow, he’s excited he gets to tell his friends that when he’s watching TV, it’s for “research”. He plans to learn as much as he can, and is hoping to take everything he’s learned to make himself the best writer he can be.

Kevin Arrieta
2010/2011 Writing Program Alum

Born with large ears that stuck out on his small head, Kevin was forced to grow a very thick skin. Luckily for him, he was born into a family with the most hilariously inappropriate humor in the world; a family that would not only laugh at a funeral, but would turn the eulogy into some sort of comedy roast. Nothing is off limits. So, when kids in school called Kevin, “Dumbo,” “Big Ears,” or “Will Smith,” it didn’t bother him. The only things that got under his skin were, of course, beautiful girls and fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies and boy, does he love fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.

Growing up in Queens, Kevin not only spent his time deflecting name-calling with his bulletproof skin, he also spent it trying to decide what he wanted to become. Torn between becoming a professional baseball player or an action hero, Kevin decided to do neither and settled for studying business, a “useful” line of work, in high school. As part of the “Future Business Leaders of America,” he secretly hated it and feared his destiny of a joyless cubicle job, a fear that came from watching the film Brazil too many times.

Anyway, that all changed when Kevin’s high school English teacher read some comedy sketches he wrote for an assignment and encouraged him to apply for a writing program in college. So, he applied on a whim to the Dramatic Writing program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Some may call it fate or just plain luck, but he somehow got in.

At Tisch, Kevin studied the craft of writing for film and television and received training from many awesome professors who helped him develop into the writer he is today, but he knows he still has more to learn. While in college, Kevin was not only writing his butt off, but to help pay off his college loans, he was also an NYPD Cadet. He didn’t have a gun but that was probably a good thing. After graduating from college, he had the choice of becoming a real police officer, in which case he would grow an amazing mustache and chase bad-guys around, or following his dream of becoming a writer… Kevin chose the latter, which meant working at an Italian restaurant in Queens and teaching himself how to animate so he could make his very own cartoon web-series.

Still hungry to learn more and grow as a writer, Kevin later applied to the Nick Writing Fellowship. After a month long interview process, he got in and is now a part of the 2010- 2011 Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship! Kevin plans to make the most of this awesome opportunity because he knows the “kid Kevin” loved watching Nickelodeon cartoons and would be so proud of his decision to become a writer. Now, all he has to do is kick butt and take advantage of this opportunity!

Brian Stampnitsky
2010/2011 Writing Program Alum

Brian’s mother likes to say that she found him under a tree; then she laughs and her son rolls his eyes. As a child, the young nerd Stampnitsky dreamed of becoming a dentist, rabbi, or talk show host. By high school, he had grown into a sitcom-obsessed, comic book-loving, introspective misfit and endured four years of what can best be described as the longest and most awkward episode of “Freaks and Geeks.”

Finally, his reward for graduating with his sanity intact was to head up to Vassar College. There, he came out of his shell, co-founded a comedy troupe, and managed to successfully flirt with a few girls. It was around this time people starting calling him “Stampy.” Oh, and he also listened to a lot of crappy music, but nobody’s perfect.

Next in the saga, he headed to New York, where he continued to write and perform comedy. During the day, he spent a lot of time temping, which helped him perfect his skills at collating, distributing mail, and, most importantly, sitting at a desk and appearing busy.

The pull of moving to the West Coast became too great, so he (or really “I” – it’s awkward writing in the third person) packed up and hit the road. Endless possibilities were in front of the now adult Stampy, so he threw himself into this excitement by spending a lot of time staring at a blank computer screen wondering how to write a script.

Eventually (a very long eventually), gigs in the business of show started to present themselves. Three seasons on Spike’s late night dude-fest “MANswers” was followed by a short but memorable stint working for the hardest working man in show business, Ryan Seacrest. But, writing for funny characters, who said funny things, either with or without slime, remained Stampy’s dream

Making it into the fellowship has reconnected him with the sitcom-obsessed, comic book-loving, introspective misfit he once was… and he’s psyched about the possibility of entertaining other introspective misfits.

On his first day in the Nick Writing Fellowship, he wore SpongeBob boxers. No one knew. Shhhhh…

Tina Tompson
2011/2012 Writing Program Alum

Tina has spent most of her life in San Diego with brief cameos in Los Angeles and Maryland. She comes from a crazy Mexican-Irish-Italian family with a passion for cooking, fighting and telling stories. Tina inherited her love of storytelling from them, as well as one of the other traits, but won’t tell you which one!

As other kids played outside, Tina wrote plays and recorded herself saying all the parts in funny voices. She got her first experience “pitching to the room” when she wanted the neighborhood kids to join her in the quest to make the best movies ever—never mind that they had no money and no camera. None of her E.T. and Olivia-Newton John rip-offs got made, but that didn’t squash her desire to one day work in the “industry”.

It wasn’t until eighth grade that Tina learned that middle-schoolers didn’t write dialogue. Her punishment for turning in a dialogue-heavy essay was being promoted to Advanced English with the other freaks that actually liked answering essay questions.

She would continue to write through high school where she won an award for an impromptu non-fiction piece on the environment. The award came with a $50 savings bond, so Tina was technically a “professional” writer at the age of 17. Not thinking that she would ever earn more than that $50 for writing, Tina went off to college where she changed majors five times before quitting.

After years in an illustrious career of office temping, she was watching Project Greenlight when Tina realized that an outsider like herself could earn a living as a writer. She immediately started writing feature scripts and joined a writer’s group to get feedback. Tina promptly learned that her writing wasn’t as genius as she thought it was and started the fun process of rewriting. Luckily, an actor in the writing group liked her non-genius level writing and encouraged her to submit plays to a local theater.

Tina observed the drunken college crowd at the theater and wrote a frat-boy comedy that was an immediate hit (at least to the audience members that were not passed out!). This led to Tina getting cast in plays, short films and improv groups even though she wasn’t an actor. The experience of performing convinced Tina that her money would be better spent on screenwriting software than headshots.

A much more talented improv actor, asked Tina to write for his Second City group in LA. After brainstorming character and story ideas together, Tina wrote three sketches for the group…and they actually liked them! Encouraged, Tina decided to submit her eighth feature script to the Feel Good Film Festival where it made it to the semi-finals.

Throughout her “writing career”, Tina kept running into (not literally, no writer’s were harmed in the making of this bio) the Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship booth at various events. Each time, she rejected the idea to write a TV spec for the contest since the shows she had written specs for in the past were immediately cancelled. Last year, the fellowship booth followed her to an industry job fair and Tina finally gave in. This past February, she crossed her fingers that Raising Hope would stay on the air and she wrote a script for the show to submit to Nickelodeon.

Since being chosen as a Nickelodeon Writing Fellow, Tina can now justify her obsession with iCarly, Big Time Rush, Fairly Odd-Parents and T.U.F.F. Puppy by calling it research and hopes her friends will stop making fun of her (but, doesn’t expect them to)!

Sasha Stroman
2011/2012 Writing Program Alum

Born in Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican mother and an American father, but raised by a Cuban stepfather, Sasha grew up surrounded by a motley cast of characters who have given her enough zany writing material to last a lifetime. During the first five years of her life, her maternal grandmother fed her a steady diet of rice, beans, and telenovelas, just like every other kid in the barrio, but when Sasha’s formal education began at a local American school, the scene quickly changed. At school, every subject was taught in English and every student tuned in to American television, listened to pop music and watched Hollywood movies. All of her new and highly Americanized classmates aspired to be Punky Brewsters or Ferris Buellers, not members of Menudo.

As a latchkey only child, everything Sasha learned about life, she first learned from television. Unsupervised and with free reign over the family tube, she watched it all, from You Can’t Do That on Television to The Kids in the Hall. A devoted indoor kid, Sasha received her first lessons in comedic storytelling during a sweltering tropical summer spent stuck to the couch and dreaming of snow while watching reruns of classic sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver, Mr. Ed and Dennis the Menace as part of Nickelodeon’s “Christmas in July” marathon.

As a teenager, some might say Sasha took her TV obsession too far, when much to her mother’s chagrin, Sasha dyed her hair (and the bathroom sink) a deep shade of crimson just like Angela Chase did in My So-Called Life. Eventually, the hair color faded away, and while the same cannot be said about the bathroom sink, neither can it be said about but Sasha’s love of television.

A passion for movies, television and writing has been the constant thread in Sasha’s life, rivaled only by her current Los Angeles obsession with raw kale, taro froyo and Umami Burger. Believing that every experience fuels her writing, Sasha has worked in widely different industries. She mastered Zen and the art of T-shirt folding during an after-school stint at the Gap, as a production assistant she was given the keys to the mac-and-cheese kingdom by the Barefoot Contessa herself, as a journalist she once flew to Canada to interview Catherine Zeta-Jones about face cream, and as an advertising copywriter she penned a thrilling infomercial about the Swine Flu vaccine.

Sasha holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and cocktail party conversation from Columbia University in New York, and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. She is ecstatic about joining the Nickelodeon family and is currently debating another hair color transformation to match the network’s signature orange hue.

Travis Braun
2012/2013 Writing Program Alum

“If you’re not first, you’re last,” is not only the famous line from “Talladega Nights,” but the mantra of Travis’ family. Travis grew up on a 100-acre ranch in Texas, where his family built racecars instead of raised cattle. His father is a race engineer for IndyCar teams and his brother is a NASCAR driver. When Travis pointed out that there were other positions, such as second, third and even fourth place, he was banished from the family business.

So at age nine, Travis wrote a novel, which cleaned up on the award circuit, including “the best book ever written” from his grandma Peggy. It achieved the unprecedented commercial success of $150, all of which Travis wisely invested in a cool new Lego set and membership in the “Power Rangers” fan club (he went as the white ranger for Halloween that year).

When Travis’ parents carefully broke the news to him that he couldn’t live on $150 (they shouted “find a real job!”), Travis summoned his Zord and committed his life to saving humanity from the evils of Rita Repulsa. Unfortunately, she quickly defeated him since he didn’t care enough about first place, and Travis had no choice but to attend journalism school at Franklin College in Indiana.

In 2008, Travis found himself on the sports desk of USA Today where he earned 30 byline articles and two on the cover of the sports section. He would have earned 35 and four on the cover if it weren’t for a bank of TV monitors stationed right outside his cubicle. At least that’s what his parents tell him. Travis had always been easily distracted by television, because it was kind of his favorite thing in the whole entire world. But he didn’t realize you could actually write for the medium until a chance encounter with real living television writers at a broadcast news seminar in New York.

Travis moved to sunny Burbank, California, in 2010, adjacent to Nickelodeon Animation Studios, and awaited his acceptance into their writing program. He had grown up watching reruns of “Doug,” “Rugrats” and “CatDog,” and couldn’t wait for his first day. Unfortunately, his acceptance letter was lost in the mail — two years in a row. What luck! Undeterred, Travis set out to learn everything he could about kids TV, so he got a job researching heinous murders on CBS’s “Criminal Minds.” That did the trick, earning him a spot in the writing program.

The key to Travis’ success has been to embrace mediocrity. He now lives by a much more inclusive philosophy, and that is “If you’re not last, you’re first.” If only his family knew that. Thankfully they are too busy winning races to read this page.

Ethel Lung
2012/2013 Writing Program Alum

Ethel is a great piano player. But not for the reasons you may think. It really has nothing to do with the fact that her mother was one of the original Tiger Moms. Actually, she has three people to thank for this: Jack, Janet and Chrissie. According to Ethel, she was always an obedient child. But one of the few rules she would break was staying up past her bedtime and sneaking behind the living room couch to watch Three’s Company (dubbed poorly in Chinese). She knew she truly loved the show because watching it would result in the punishment she hated the most – practicing piano for two hours. Her secret goal, in her 8-year-old mind, was to write a show as awesome as Three’s Company…and to have boobs as big as Chrissie’s. She’s been writing stories and acting like Chrissie ever since, although the latter was not encouraged by her parents.

Ethel doesn’t know where she really “grew up” because her parents were indecisive on where to settle down…or they were secretly following Phish. Thus, before the age of 14, she lived on two continents and in five different cities. Her family eventually made Houston, Texas their home, the birthplace of Texas toast. She stayed true as a Texan and went to Texas Tech University and eventually worked in Dallas as a low level buyer for a high-end retailer. She had an impressive collection of pant suits, a promising retirement fund and massive happy hour bills, but she was not happy. Her childhood aspiration started speaking to her in her dreams, “Move to L.A. Do what I say or the shark will eat you.” She feared sharks, so she moved. She had a strong feeling that she’d have a promising career in acting. Her feeling was wrong. So she decided to pursue the one thing that has always been there, her love of writing. Her feeling was right this time…thank God!

In 2008, she met her beautiful and talented writing partner, Tiffany. Ethel and Tiffany were accepted to the Fox Diversity Writers’ Initiative in 2010 and this October, they received THE phone call from the man in the clouds, I mean Nickelodeon. Ethel can’t wait to go to Ikea (just around the corner from Nickelodeon) after work to enjoy the delicious $4.99 Swedish meatball meal. But what she is most excited about is what she’s about to embark on this next year in the Nickelodeon Writing Program. Ethel is a mother of twin boys and she hopes that one day, they will be even greater pianists than their mother.

Aminta Goyel
2012/2013 Writing Program Alum

Aminta is the odd-ball of the 2012-2013 Nickelodeon Writing Program as she is the only writer who does not hail from Texas. In fact, Aminta was born and spent most of her formative years in the urban jungle of Mumbai, India, where she had to access American TV shows through the local smuggler. Watching Full House and Who’s the Boss on bootlegged VHS tapes, mutilating her Barbie dolls while dreaming up weird post-apocalyptic scenarios for them to be in, and cross-dressing her kid brother, pretty much sums up Aminta’s early years. Fortunately, none of these events required too much therapy in later life. As a teenager she developed an incurable crush on Hawkeye from M*A*S*H* and found herself writing short stories and poems, and dreaming up ways she could get Alan Alda’s attention.

After surviving too many years in an uber-strict post-colonial Indian school and a short stint in a British boarding school, Aminta went off to Cornell University where she directed theater, worked as a movie projectionist, and spent a summer on an archaeological dig in Greece. It was also here that she took her first screenwriting class and plunged headfirst into a complete love affair with film—a romance that shipped her off from the snows of Ithaca to the sunny climes of Los Angeles. She went on to complete her MFA in Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and during her time there she directed a number of shorts, including her thesis film which was shot in the jungles of India and featured a live tiger (Sidenote: Trying to get an eyeline out of a tiger requires using a puppy as eye bait and is not as fun as it sounds).

During this time she also wrote a sitcom pilot, the writing of which tickled her fancy for a career in television. Over the years, the tickle turned into a full-on fetish, and Aminta is delighted to be a part of the Nick Writing program where she can finally talk to herself in character voices and no one will think she’s weird.

Some of Aminta’s past jobs have included working as an assistant to a literary agent, producing political documentaries, and making videos for a teen-centric non-profit, for which she wrote a number of commercial spots that have aired on networks like VH1, Fox, MTV, Channel One, and have featured celebrities like Aziz Ansari, Nick Cannon, Olivia Munn, Victoria Justice, Demi Lovato, and others. She has also written and produced some pretty oddball web videos (S*** Apathetic Girls Say has over 80,000 views, mmmkay?)

If Aminta was not a writer she would have been a cowboy. You can often see her sporting her purple cowboy boots as a reminder of what her life could have been like.

Tiffany Lo
2012/2013 Writing Program Alum

Tiffany was born and raised in Houston, Texas as an only child who needed undivided attention from everyone all the time. Therefore, she had a habit of embellishing every story she told, including this bio. Growing up, her favorite place to get attention was at her parents’ dinner parties where she would perform a range of impressions from the friendly clerk at the 7-11 (inspired by the friendly clerk at the 7-11) to the Texas cowboy (inspired by J.R. Ewing). These always got laughs. She didn’t know if it was pity laughter or real laughter, but she didn’t care. She was hooked – making people laugh was her most favorite thing ever.

Despite her parents’ wish of Tiffany becoming a doctor or an electrical engineer, she took her love of funny to Los Angeles, where she attended the University of Southern California and pursued a career in acting – “just for fun” she would tell her mom and dad. But after years of waiting tables, assistant gigs, dog walking, self-loathing and auditioning for Asian dental commercials, she realized that being a failed actor was not fulfilling. She wanted to create original stories and characters inspired by the ridiculousness of her life and those in it, none of whom were doctors or engineers. Sorry, Uncle Huang, M.D., she appreciates that you save lives, but you’re not inspiring. Thus, she shed her acting cocoon and metamorphosed into a full-blown butterfly writer and has never flown back.

For the past five years, she’s been writing with the lovely and highly organized Ethel Lung who Tiffany often likes to pretend is her sister because they look alike from certain angles. Their first accomplishment took place on a rainy day in 2009. After a forty-seven minute debate about what to wear, they went in to Nickelodeon to pitch their first project together as a writing team. Even though they did not sell gold, they refrained from ugly crying and kept writing. Then, in 2010, they were accepted to the Fox Diversity Writers’ Initiative.

Now, Tiffany is so excited and honored to continue her journey with Ethel in the Nickelodeon Writing Program. She hopes that this experience will come full circle with Nickelodeon and they can finally release the bout of ugly crying they’ve been holding back…but this time, the happy kind.

Essie Nagler
2013/2014 Writing Program Alum

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Karla Sakas
2013/2014 Writing Program Alum

Karla was raised in a log cabin on the outskirts of Washington, DC. She and her four siblings enjoyed many a quaint log cabin pastime, like gathering around a crackling television set to watch Nicktoons marathons. For Karla, Nick shows provided more than just entertainment – their zany characters and scenarios directly inspired her first forays into writing. So directly, in fact, that some of her early works are word-for-word retellings of Rugrats and Hey Arnold! But it was a start.

By fifth grade, Karla began branching out into more original material. She got her first big break writing the book for the class musical, Bytes of Conflict, a high-stakes drama about a missing floppy disk. Though her tragic tale garnered more laughs than tears, the experience ignited Karla’s interest in dramatic writing. She set about filling dozens of notebooks (and floppy disks) with skits, sketches, and full-length plays.

As much as she loved scriptwriting, fifth-grade Karla wasn’t really thinking about her career. Even a decade later, halfway through undergrad at James Madison University, Karla hadn’t yet realized that writing could be more than her favorite hobby. Then one semester, she signed up for a playwriting course, where everything finally clicked. The first time one of her scenes got a laugh (for something that was actually supposed to be funny) she was hooked. She signed up for every writing class her school offered and set her sights on LA and writing for television.

Prior to getting into the Nickelodeon Writing Program, some of Karla’s past work included puppeteering a talking cat, writing dialogue for TV sea lions, and wrangling small mammals (substitute teaching). As a part of the Writing Program, she feels like she’s living the dream – especially now that her writing has advanced beyond copying Rugrats verbatim.

Jeff Sayers
2013/2014 Writing Program Alum

Jeff was raised out of steel in the swamps of Jersey. Actually, he grew up in Roseland a suburb right outside of New York City, but either way he’s damn proud of it! From an early age Jeff fancied himself a storyteller. His parents had this other term for it, which was liar, but he considers them interchangeable. Jeff likes to gives props to his insomnia for nurturing his love of television as he endlessly tortured his little brother with midnight viewings of Frasier and Seinfeld. At twelve he took his first crack at writing original material, a concept he had thought up for an epic book detailing the forces of good and evil battling it out in a vast universe under the sea. But when he sat down to write it he got two pages in and realized he had just lifted Star Wars and set it under the Atlantic Ocean. Jeff continued to branch out his creative writing in junior high where he wrote music and played in a band with his two best friends, both of which went on to sign major label deals when he left the band, thus showing Jeff’s true talent as a musician.

Then, one day in the 9th grade, while watching an episode of The Sopranos that was being filmed in his neighborhood, he came to the realization that there are people who have full time jobs as television writers. To him that sounded like the coolest career in the world, so he set out to take as many creative writing course that his school offered, which at the time turned out to be…two. Undeterred he offset the lack of courses by trying to convince his teachers to let him take non-fiction projects and give them a little twist. Who wouldn’t want to see George Washington riding into the Battle of Trenton on a Sherman Tank instead of his horse?

Jeff went on to attend Drew University, and despite taking writing courses in college he graduated and became a corporate lackey, doing a quick stint on Wall Street and spending late nights and weekends working on his writing craft, something that kept him sane. As time went by he felt his writing was becoming stronger but wasn’t sure if it was quite there yet. So, like many other fearless, aspiring television writers before him, Jeff chose the most expensive back up plan in the world and went to law school. While law school had many positive effects on Jeff’s writing (structure, lying…sorry storytelling), it also gave him the opportunity to continue to write over breaks, and during the week when he probably should have been studying.

After getting some much needed advice from working television writers – who were alumni of his high school – Jeff decided that the best way to see where he stood in the pantheon of television scribes was to submit to the Nickelodeon Writing Program. After writing a script on some highly questionable material, Jeff played the waiting game for months, finally seeing that 818 area code come up on his phone. A few cross country flights and eleven some odd interviews later, Jeff is a writer in the Nickelodeon Writing Program! He is so pumped to be at Nick that he re-watched the Are You Afraid of the Dark DVD he bought off of E-bay in college (which still scares the crap out of him) and has been blasting “Hey Sandy”- the theme song from The Adventures of Pete and Pete – on repeat. Jeff would like to thank his family for being ultra-supportive of his career choice and give a special shout out to his friends and better half back in the Jerz!

Sheela Shrinivas
2013/2014 Writing Program Alum

This short biography will attempt to make Sheela Shrinivas seem as interesting as possible, drawing inspiration from such classic memoirists as Barack Obama and the guy who invented the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese.

Along with her older brothers, Sheela was raised in Oakville, Missouri. She was brought to the Midwest by her lovely, hysterical immigrant parents, because most parents like to bring their kids places. Sheela absolutely crushed the Greater St. Louis elementary school spelling bee scene; sometimes during full moons, she can still hear the letters howl.

As a lonesome, mustachioed child, Sheela expressed her love of television by staging episodes of her favorite sitcoms in her bathroom. She followed that hairy whimsy with an equally rewarding career as a teacher and nonprofit worker, living in places like Madrid, New Delhi, and New York City. She discovered during her quarter-life crisis that her dream job was to be a TV writer; she realized she might actually be able to do this after she saw a “Written By” credit for a name so Indian it would make Gandhi cringe.

So she moved to Los Angeles, where she was lucky enough to study with some of the greatest writers and showrunners in the biz (aka business). She received her MFA in Screenwriting from USC in 2013, then worked as a Writer’s Assistant before getting the opportunity to be in the Nick Writing Program.

Sheela is overjoyed to be here. Her goal is to create the same memorable television for more viewers than were in her bathroom, and to add to the ever-growing list of fictional muses who have become like extended family. Her current heroes are B.R.G. and Bill Haverchuck.

Nora Sullivan
2014/2015 Writing Program Alum

As a child growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Nora tortured her supportive family with countless plays she wrote and performed in the living room. Classics included Cinderella: The Girl Who Loved Cheese and Beauty and the Beast: On Ice! Except the Ice is a Mattress! It’s possible her family members didn’t love every minute of her performances, but they cheered her on anyway, and always made her feel like her stories were worth telling. So, she kept on telling them.

While Nora always cast herself as the lead, outside of the living room circuit she tended to land background dancer roles. It was a childhood of laughter and ill-fitting multi-colored unitards. But whether she was playing “Evil Snowflake #5” or “part of the whale that eats Jonah” (Catholic school), Nora always came up with an elaborate backstory to get into character. Somewhere along the line, she realized she liked coming up with the stories better than acting them out, and so she decided to become a writer.

Raised on a steady diet of Simpsons episodes, Nora knew very early that television should be a big focus of her life, and so it became the focus of her stories. While at soccer practice, she used to plot out entire episodes of Friends in her head. Admittedly, the episodes she came up with usually revolved around an 11-year-old Catholic schoolgirl inexplicably joining the friend group. Also admittedly, Nora didn’t score a lot of goals, but she mostly chalks that up to her lack of athletic ability.

While in college, Nora joined the Princeton Triangle Writer’s Workshop, writing musicals about plucky princesses, college admissions, and a very inconvenient apocalypse, which toured across the country. She had a great time putting together lyrics and sketches, but her favorite stories were still happening on TV. She loved following characters week to week, through years of adventures. Series finales broke her heart, and it was hard to say goodbye to the fake people that had become a part of her life. Friends suggested that maybe Nora cared too much, but she thought differently. Maybe she cared just enough to actually do this for a living.

So Nora went to USC and completed a MFA in Writing for Screen & Television. She wrote a lot, slept a little, and learned a ton from industry professionals and her fellow writers.

Nora is thrilled to be part of the Nickelodeon Writing Program. She’s still the girl who wants to tell stories to families in their living rooms. Only this time they’ll be TV shows instead of one-woman musicals. Nora hopes that someday, she’ll create a show that distracts kids everywhere during soccer practice.

Lauren Ciaravalli
2014/2015 Writing Program Alum

Lauren was born in New York City one minute prior to her twin brother. They spent their early years fighting over what they should watch on TV. Luckily, they could both always agree on Nickelodeon. The twins spent many hours in their suburban living room pretending to be Reggie and Otto from Rocket Power, Cat and Dog from CatDog, Norbet and Dagett from The Angry Beavers, Ren and Stimpy from… you get the idea.

All this imaginary play paid off when Lauren started her writing career at the ripe age of thirteen. She was attending a private all-girls school at the time, so naturally Gilmore Girls was everyone’s favorite TV show. During the winter hiatus, Lauren and her friends were devastated to be deprived of their weekly dose of Lorelai and Rory, so Lauren went home and wrote her own episodes of the show. She brought the scripts to the dining hall where very official table reads were held at lunch. Lauren was officially hooked to storytelling.

In high school, Lauren redefined the age-old label “theater geek” by being the only theater geek who wanted to write, not perform. She directed plays, attended Shakespeare Camps, and competed in statewide one-act playwriting contests. When Lauren wasn’t helping out at musical rehearsals, she would cast drama club kids in her short films and hosted a series of table reads of her plays and screenplays in basements all across town.

Lauren studied Film & TV at NYU where she spent four glamorous years braving cold, rainy outdoor movie shoots, spending sleepless nights in the editing lab, hauling equipment up subway steps and subsisting on a diet of cold coffee, stale bagels and snickers bars. Film school was such a fun and creatively empowering experience, Lauren wished it was a soap opera so that it could go on forever. However, college came to a finale, and just like a hit TV show, it opened the door for a new, spinoff adventure. Upon graduation, this die-hard New Yorker moved to LA to pursue television.

Lauren survived the trenches of “Hollywood assistanting” during a yearlong job in the TV department at a talent and literary agency. She then worked as the showrunners’ assistant on a broadcast drama where she finally got to attend a table read in a production office and not a basement or school cafeteria.

When Nickelodeon offered her the chance to explore her dream of writing comedy for young people, she jumped at the chance. Lauren hopes to create characters and shows that inspire young people with overactive imaginations to be themselves and tell stories too.

Alan Van Dyke
2014/2015 Writing Program Alum

Alan really doesn’t like writing about himself in the third person, but he’ll do it just this once. He was born in Shelby, North Carolina, because there is no hospital where his parents lived in Cliffside, NC (Population: 611). He would go on to live in Charlotte, Raleigh and Winston-Salem - always moving just in time for the local sports team to finally get good right as he left.

At age 5, Alan received full marks on a preschool evaluation for knowing the difference between up/down, near/far and big/small, but his teacher noted “we are still working with him on real/imaginary” (that work continues to this day!) For the next few years his attention was divided equally between attempting to catch small animals, creating elaborate dioramas with his Ninja Turtle figures, and spending perfectly nice afternoons with his eyes locked on Nickelodeon programming. To this day, most of his views about the world were directly shaped by The Adventures of Pete and Pete.

By age 10 - coinciding with the release of Jurassic Park - Alan’s dream was to write a novel that would be adapted for the screen. It only took him 8 years to realize he could cut a step out of that process by just writing a script himself. (This is good, because his 4th-grade attempt at a novel, about three dinosaurs who arrive on earth inside a meteor - and the plucky 4th-grader who saves his town from them - would have been very difficult to adapt.)

Alan chased that dream straight into the Screenwriting program at UNC School of the Arts, where he worked on over 60 student films and still managed to leave without hating movies. In fact, he loved writing enough to pack up three days after graduation for the move to sunny Los Angeles.

Before finding safe harbor in the Nick Writing Program, Alan worked as an advertising proofreader, a pizza cook, a laser tag referee - excuse me: “Game Master” - and a studio tour guide. Here at Nickelodeon, he feels like a kid in a candy shop - no, a kid in a candy FACTORY!

“Now it’s my turn to make some candy,” he chuckles to himself, looking out at the shiny candy machines. “Now it’s my turn.”

Charlie Neuner
2015/2016 Writing Program Alum

Charlie was born in Los Angeles and quickly made it his life goal to take over Hollywood. Not really. But he did always love to write. That’s probably not a huge shocker. In elementary school, he was content to merely stitch together short comics about a ball with feet (the only character he could consistently draw). Charlie would sell every issue of his spherical hero’s adventures to his classmates for 25 cents each. By the fifth grade, he had over five dollars banked.

But it wasn’t just about the quarters, oh no! From a young age, Charlie had a very special relationship with storytelling. He was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorders. His teachers also noted his ‘focusing’ issues and recommended he be tested for ADD. He heard from a lot of different psychiatric and behavioral professionals about what was ‘wrong’ with him – and yet, whenever he was writing, those ‘problems’ just seemed to disappear. The paper and the pen allowed him to get out of his head. Television had the same effect.

Charlie’s romance with TV was more passionate than even the most robust Nicholas Sparks novel. There was nothing he enjoyed more than being whisked away to an entirely different reality, populated by hilarious characters and absurd situations. TV was full of his favorite vacation spots: New New York from “Futurama,” Ba Sing Se from “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” and even the dingy Manhattan municipal courthouse on “Night Court.” In-between these sporadic getaways, Charlie realized that the people creating these worlds were the people he wanted to be. So at the ripe age of 12, he decided to stop wasting his life trying to catch every Pokemon in Gold/Silver version and instead get more serious about writing as an actual career.

In high school, Charlie’s extracurricular activities were almost exclusively related to his desire to write. On campus, he contributed to his school’s literary magazine. Off campus, he went out of his way to connect with mentors who taught him more about screenwriting and the behind-the-scenes world of television. He was also on the track team -- but who cares about that. He only joined it so he wouldn’t have to take P.E.

As soon as he graduated, Charlie was faced with a tough decision. He could either move away for school or stay in Los Angeles, the hub of the entertainment industry, and commit himself to his dream. He made the gutsy call to continue on his path and in the next few years he worked doing freelance assignments like script coverage and writing descriptive blurbs for the back of DVD cases. Both were super boring, but provided worthwhile experience (maybe not the DVD thing). In addition to that, he took classes at UCLA Extension to learn more about the craft and build a portfolio of his own scripts, stories, and essays.

Now, as a writer in the Nickelodeon Writing Program, Charlie is immensely excited to tackle this new challenge and not just take a vacation in TV, but be a part of it. He hopes that kids like him will be inspired to follow the same path he did. He’ll either be a valuable asset or a terrible detriment to today’s youth. It could go either way, honestly.

Jeff Trammell
2015/2016 Writing Program Alum

Jeff was born and raised in the city of Detroit, but contrary to what most people would imagine, he never wanted to grow up to be a rapper, a Motown artist or a Detroit Lion’s fan. Growing up, Jeff’s many dream jobs included being a pro-wrestler, a comedian, a superhero, a cast member of “All That”, and a storyteller. At a young age Jeff fell captive to the entertaining world of pro-wrestling. This continued until the age of sixteen, when Jeff would become a professional wrestler on the Michigan independent wrestling scene as the “no-hit wonder”, Kevin Kavalier. After quickly finding out that taking beatings was nowhere near as fun as dishing them out, Kevin Kavalier reverted back to Jeff and hung up his shiny black boots. During that time, Jeff discovered that his love of wrestling wasn’t only due to the athleticism and larger than life personas, but to the stories being told. So Jeff decided that he’d find a way to tell stories to captivate people just as he’d been captivated by television as a child.

Pursuing a career in storytelling led Jeff to Specs Howard School of Media Arts, where he hoped to learn about the inner workings of the television business. While he learned about the technical side of the business, Jeff had no idea how to write for TV. Armed with grit, determination, and a shoddy internet connection, Jeff looked up every book, script and website he could find in order to learn how to write comedy television. During this time, Jeff and his friend Todd created a YouTube sketch comedy group known as Reel Jokers. Reel Jokers was an unabashed hit, leading to both men retiring at the tender age of 21. Actually, Reel Jokers currently has 55 subscribers and neither man has ever made a dime from it, but they had fun making videos.

While pursuing his dream of a successful writing career, Jeff worked as an airport ramp agent, a security guard and an “All That” cast member… well, not the last one. While working these jobs, Jeff took an interest in comic books and entered a contest that required he write the origin story of a major villain. Not surprisingly, Jeff won… but it was another guy named Jeff, not the one you’ve been reading about. Sad but not discouraged, Jeff would continue to write comic book stories as well as spec scripts.

After a few years of writing sketches for Reel Jokers and working on spec scripts, Jeff decided he should finally ‘use it before he loses it’, so he researched ways to get his spec scripts noticed and discovered the Nickelodeon Writing Program. Jeff couldn’t believe such a program existed and how amazing it seemed. Motivated and full of stories, Jeff was ready to get cracking and submit his script… until he noticed he’d missed that year’s deadline by a month. He considered destroying his computer in a fit of rage; instead he decided to prepare for the next year’s cycle - with a vengeance! With focus, months of preparation, and no Plan B, Jeff submitted his extremely raunchy script based on “The League” and tried not to think about it every second for the next six months. Finally, the call that would change his life came in August, and three thousand miles and eleven interviews later, Jeff became a member of the exclusive Nickelodeon Writing Program. Despite that, Jeff has yet to learn the secret NWP handshake.

Robert Woo
2015/2016 Writing Program Alum

Robert was born in South Korea and distinctly remembers crying the entire flight over to America. That stopped immediately when he landed in Honolulu and realized everything about his new situation was awesome. He spent his formative years in paradise learning English to avoid getting beat up, eating unhealthy amounts of Spam, and internalizing American culture by watching Nickelodeon shows such as Hey Dude and You Can’t Do That on Television.

Upon graduating from the high school President Obama allegedly attended, Robert was soundly rejected by the seven colleges his parents could pronounce. He ended up at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and further disappointed his parents by double majoring in English and Philosophy instead of pursuing employability. He enjoyed immersing himself in pretentious reading and writing, while his peers “made friends” and “became people.” He had a lot of alone time to watch SNL and SCTV reruns.

Robert’s un-employability hit an all-time high when he discovered improv comedy. Risking becoming disavowed by his parents, he spent years performing comedy nationally and internationally, and he can sadly confirm that there is no such thing as an improv groupie. Wanting less ephemeral creativity, Robert branched out to live and video sketch comedy and found a modicum of success on YouTube racking up thirteen million views and twelve thousand subscribers who are mostly thirteen years old.

Upon being selected for the NBC Late Night Writers Workshop, Robert found himself moving to New York to strike while the iron was lukewarm. This lasted six months until he won a slot in the Nickelodeon Writing Program and moved to California. Moving twice in one year has made him just as bitter as a real New Yorker, though he is determined not to let this seep into any children’s programming he writes. His parents are slowly coming to terms with the fact that he will never be a doctor-lawyer.

Robert takes a multivitamin every day.

Mia Resella
2016/2017 Writing Program Alum

Bio Coming Soon!

Mia Resella
2016/2017 Writing Program Alum

Mia Resella is a Los Angeles based writer, artist, and proud owner of an 18 pound cat that the vet says is perfectly healthy, I swear. Raised in a lovely forested area of College Station, Texas, Mia was allergic to most of the outdoors and was “forced” to stay in to write and doodle in her spare time. As a result, she quickly became addicted to the Internet and TV, a curse that would accompany her into adult life.

A shy nerd with Lisa Simpson as her spirit animal, Mia eventually discovered the world of theatre in high school and became a much less “shy nerd.” These bad influences got her out of her shell and onto the stage where she discovered playwriting and improv comedy. Maybe there was a version of writing that wasn’t just writing emo poetry alone in her room, and maybe that was, y’know… better? To find out, Mia enrolled in Film and Media Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara and fell in love with screen and television writing.

After her time in the beautiful, opposite-of-Texas Santa Barbara weather, Mia moved to LA to pursue her writing career. She trucked along for a few years, but something wasn’t quite clicking. While working for the literary manager for the Roald Dahl Estate and Moonbot Studios, Mia finally realized she had a passion for children’s storytelling. She also loved to doodle and about 80% of her writing samples were for animated concepts so… Duh, maybe she should try focusing on animation! Mia went the dreaded “applying to grad school” route and to her surprise was accepted to the UCLA Animation Workshop. There, she found a place where all her favorite genres collided. Click! With newfound focus, her first animated short was funded by Matt Groening and premiered at the Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival.

Even though Mia has found her home in animation, she hasn’t turned her back on live action. Her recent live action projects include writing for web series, producing vlogs for Geek & Sundry, and creating a short film as part of the Bad Robot Diversity Fellowship. When she was offered the Nickelodeon Writing Program, Mia was ecstatic. Like many of her peers, she grew up watching Nickelodeon in the 90’s and makes career decisions based off of being able to brag to her childhood self in the event of future time travel technology.

Tillery Johnson
2016/2017 Writing Program Alum

Tillery was born amongst mobile homes and tobacco farms in north-eastern North Carolina in the kind of small rural town where the high school football coach is also the mayor and the sheriff. To escape the boredom he developed an overactive imagination, spending much of his childhood leading action figures into battle and designing elaborate pillow forts to protect them from enemies. In the third grade he was so inspired by Mary Poppins that he stored a suitcase in his family’s chimney and attempted to ride the wind of a hurricane using a skateboard and an umbrella, which didn’t end well.

After abandoning his early dreams of being either a professional church acolyte or a garbage man, Tillery found a flair for the dramatic during beach vacations with his family. Each summer he and his siblings would put on a play inspired by existing stories of varying genres. One year he played an evil step-sister in a version of Cinderella set to the music of Sugar Ray’s 14:59, the next he was Baby Spice in an adaptation of Spice World. He’s sure there were a few plays that did NOT require him to dress in drag, but the names of those elude him.

Tillery’s first true taste of great writing came when he painstakingly transcribed a poem he heard in a film and presented it to a girl at school on Valentine’s Day, not realizing until years later he had plagiarized one of Shakespeare’s famous sonnets. Although impressed with the poem, the girl did not share his affection, and he spent the next few years writing almost exclusively about unrequited love. After several sappy teenage years, Tillery’s wit finally emerged near the end of high school, though sadly it wasn’t enough to convince his prom date not to make out with one of his friends.

Despite his many failed attempts at impressing girls through creativity, Tillery held out hope that writers would make a sexy comeback and headed off to study literature and creative writing at UNC Chapel Hill. He found prose to be a bit lonely so when John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky (King of the Hill and Silicon Valley) arrived on campus to talk about writing for television, Tillery was intrigued. A few improv classes and half a screenplay later, he made the long trek west to Los Angeles. He quickly found himself on the sets of major movies and television shows where he could finally perfect the art of ordering coffee, picking up lunch and staying out of everyone’s way.

Tillery has been called “NOT bad” by the author of Big Fish, “TOO GOOD for a day job” by his dad, and “SO FUNNY I forgot to laugh” by a third grader. KaBlam!’s Stinky Diver was his first role model and Alex Mack was his first crush so he’s excited for the opportunity to write characters that inspire kids as much as Nickelodeon’s characters inspired him. He also can’t wait to share this bio with the calculus teacher who told him he wouldn’t make it very far in life by telling jokes.

Simone Nathan
2016/2017 Writing Program Alum

As the child of a musician and a sailor, Simone grew up in a family where unusual career paths were wholeheartedly supported and encouraged. Upon declaring her life’s ambition was to become a dog, Simone’s parents went out and bought ceramic bowls so that while the rest of the family ate at the table, she could eat off the floor.

Yet when Simone announced she wanted to be a writer, they were noticeably less enthused. ‘…What about job security?’ they inquired nervously. It was too late. The glue on Simone’s vision board had already set and all anybody could do was sit back and let her live her truth.

Growing up in New Zealand, Simone learned everything there was to know about American culture through Saturday morning cartoons. She lived for the Nickelodeon line-up and, upon moving to the States years later, was bitterly disappointed to discover cats and dogs could not, in fact, be born conjoined twins.

After finishing high school, the New Zealand population took a significant cut when Simone moved overseas for a gap year in the Middle East. She spent the year enjoying many cartoonish hijinks: getting attacked by a swarm of bees in the desert, earning room and board at a chicken farm with a three-fingered boss who resembled a chicken himself, and even completing her basic training with the Israeli military.

Simone attended the University of Melbourne to pursue a Bachelor of Arts, where she was the recipient of Trinity College’s award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Arts’. Soon after, she moved to the U.S to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing at Tisch, New York University where she was awarded NYU’s ‘Venable Herndon Award for Excellence in Screenwriting’.

Throughout her studies, Simone worked on Comedy Central’s ‘Inside Amy Schumer’ and upon graduating, went on to work as a Writer’s Assistant on the Netflix show, ‘Bloodline’.

One special day, Simone received a phone call to say she had been selected as part of the 2016 Nickelodeon Writing Program. She ran through the city streets à la Charlie getting his golden ticket before she was abruptly hit head on by a speeding ambulance. Okay, she wasn’t. But she always looks both ways, kids!

Since then, Simone has moved to Los Angeles to learn under the Nick Program’s guidance and pursue her goal of becoming a staffed TV comedy writer. She is working hard to balance writing with having no social life. Her hobbies are ‘aspiring’ and ‘emerging’, and she writes to the white noise of her cat’s purrs.

Joanna Alpern
2017/2018 Writing Program Alum

Disclaimer: Brits find it especially awkward to talk about themselves, even in the third person, so Joanna will deflect for now, and start where Freud would: her parents. Joanna was brought up in North London by a Belgian economist and an American mathematician. Oddly enough, when her parents separated, they didn’t physically separate. The house was simply split in two. Her dad occupied the top floor, her mother the bottom, and Joanna lived somewhere in between. It was a real-life experiment, trickier than any they had conducted for research, and with results far from predictable. At age seven, Joanna became the personal confidants of professors, honing her observation skills and developing a life-long curiosity about human nature. Some call this nosiness, and Joanna has indeed been referred to as a gossip hound on more than one occasion, but she considers this a critical tool for any good writer.

Ironically enough, Joanna found her way to scriptwriting through her own romantic and academic mishaps. When years of unrequited teenage crushes culminated in a failure to get into university, she panicked. A guy Joanna was seeing at the time saw that she was lost and disillusioned, and he feared she was putting all her emotional eggs in one basket: him. He called things off, but knowing she was a poet and short story writer, he said, ‘Joanna, you have a direction. It’s writing. I’m taking you out for dinner in a month’s time. Bring me a play.’ A play? In a month? She’d never written a play before, but she went home, sat down and wrote about the breakdown of a relationship. It was cathartic to say the least. Maybe this is good, she thought, maybe it will win him back. Surprisingly, however, it didn’t.

So Joanna did what any sane being would do in the face of defeat. She stopped caring about love and success and bought a one-way plane ticket across the world. She ventured through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand and hiked and kayaked her worries away. She saw every temple, museum and landmark, ate everything from crickets to deep-fried tarantula to crocodile, drank rice wine, played cards with the locals and even got her belly button pierced despite her phobia for needles. She was trying to prove that she was invincible, that she could have as much fun as she wanted and never get attached to anyone or anything. It didn’t make her invincible ultimately, but it did give her plenty of ammunition as a dramatist.

Eventually Joanna came home from full moon parties and made her way to the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland, home to golf and Prince William’s and Kate Middleton’s blossoming romance. During her time there she churned out six new female-centric plays, this time because she wanted to, and not just because she’d been told. They were put on in a tiny black box theatre and two were even taken to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where they received critical acclaim and won awards, which was very exciting. Joanna then stumbled upon a full scholarship to study Dramatic Writing at NYU, where she fell in love with outlining and structure, and was converted into a TV and screenwriter. She soon found out about the magnificent Nickelodeon Writing Program, which turns emerging writers into superstars. She wrote a spec script for her favourite show, Catastrophe, and after fourteen interviews and one more script, she was amazed to hear that she had been accepted into the program. Joanna has now moved to Los Angeles to pursue her two dreams of writing professionally and tanning her pasty British skin. Thanks to Karen Kirkland, she’s had more success with the former!

Josh Brown
2017/2018 Writing Program Alum

As a kid growing up in Denver, Colorado, Josh was raised on a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons and Simpsons reruns. His father attempted to interest him in sports by signing him up for a boys’ soccer league, but, on the field, Josh didn’t resemble a soccer player so much as a confused tourist who had lost his map and found himself wandering around next to a goal post. Josh made his debut in the entertainment industry at age eight when he was cast as Neville Longbottom in an unlicensed stage production of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the local Jewish community center. Later on, Josh set his sights on the acting program at Denver’s 6-12th grade arts school. He would audition five times before he was finally accepted to the program as a sophomore in high school. To this day he holds the record for the most audition attempts at Denver School of the Arts which either speaks to his fortitude or his inability to take a hint.

Not long into high school, Josh learned that he had more interest in writing than performing. He wrote his first play during his junior year about Dr. Seuss and Dr. Seuss’s wife going to marriage counseling because Dr. Seuss wouldn’t stop rhyming. That script was produced without the expressed written consent of the Dr. Seuss estate.

In college, Josh followed his passion for writing and attended NYU as a Dramatic Writing student. Josh made several attempts to write very important plays about very important issues, but he had a lot more fun writing children’s plays about talking cockroaches and robots made out of refrigerators. In fact, Josh quickly realized that he didn’t want to write plays at all. He wanted to write TV for kids. One day, Karen Kirkland from Nickelodeon visited Josh’s campus and told him and his classmates about the Nick Writing Program. Apparently, there was this magical fellowship out there where emerging writers were paid to hone their writing skills. Time stopped. The earth went silent. Josh’s vision went orange and his mouth formed the words, “Nick Nick Nick Nick na Nick Nick Nick Nickelodeon.”

To fight off his tendency to procrastinate, Josh made a pledge with himself to write for one hour a day for 30 days straight. On day 31, Josh decided to keep going. He continued his daily “writing hour” for another six years and eventually his material was in good enough shape for Nickelodeon. Being selected as a writer at Nick is a dream come true for Josh. He couldn’t be happier to work for the same folks who created his favorite cartoons while being surrounded by people who love animation and kids’ TV as much as he does.

Christine Schiefer
2017/2018 Writing Program Alum

Christine became a writer/producer at the ripe age of six, creating (and starring in) such timeless classics as Tourists in a Time Warp, The Super People Visit Asia Minor, and, of course, the infamous Kentucky Derby in Ohio. Although her family supported (read: tolerated) her incessant movie-making, Little Christine had no idea that writing could be anything more than a creative pastime.

At the age of 17, Christine despairingly pictured herself as a failed accountant/lawyer/veterinarian before picking the closest thing she could find to her passion and enrolling in American University’s broadcast journalism program. Although she had dabbled in nonfiction TV as a child with her smash hit Revealed: Football Helmet-Wearing Superheroes Tell It All, she quickly realized that journalism in DC was more about politics than storytelling.

Dismayed by her lack of interest in the subject matter and the fact that no amount of cajoling or even coffee could convince her to head to the Capitol Building with her classmates at 5 in the morning, Christine started an internship with National Geographic TV that redirected her back to writing. After a brief post-grad soul-searching stint in Ohio, Christine took off to Boston to pursue a Master’s in Television from BU.

The program brought Christine out to Los Angeles, where she not only got her foot in the door as an office P.A. on a variety of shows and networks, but also spotted John Legend one time. Always writing, she filled the gaps between gigs as a dog walker, Lyft driver, and even a private investigator. Though perhaps disheartening at times, these jobs generated a lifetime’s worth of material for content and thus fueled her writing process.

Christine learned about the Nickelodeon Writing Program her first month in LA and, as an aspiring writer of kids’ content, she knew that’s where she wanted to be. She kept her rejection letters as inspiration to better her writing, and after two years of attempts (and more than one late-night vision board-making session) the determination finally paid off.

Christine is beyond thrilled to join the Nick Writing Program this year and can hardly believe her dream of writing every day surrounded by brilliant minds has actually been realized. When she’s not writing, Christine can typically be found hosting a paranormal and true crime podcast, talking to her dog, or injuring herself in a beginner yoga class.

Halima Lucas
Halima Lucas
2018/2019 Writing Program Alum

In the mid-’90s one could find a young inquisitive Halima daydreaming in the middle of the street or chasing lizards in her awesome farmland-y, yet urban hometown of Stockton, California. Although she’s small in stature, she comes from a huge family of nine kids. That’s right, Halima is one of NINE brothers and sisters.

Being second oldest of the bunch, she spent most of her time as an unpaid babysitter. At first the gig was tough -- changing diapers, cleaning up toys, and sucking snot out kids’ noses with that blue thingy. However, over time she learned that the key to getting her siblings to behave was telling stories. Whether it was getting them ready for school or to take a bath, she had a theatrical performance to get the task done. Believe me, Halima’s rendition of “The Poo-Poo Pee-Pee Monster” was enough to make any kid wipe thoroughly!

While Halima developed a love for storytelling early on, she wasn’t quite sure of how to channel it into a career. Then, in her third year in college she received the gift of a lifetime - the password to a friend’s Netflix account. After a summer of binge watching everything from indie rom-coms to historical dramas, she fell in love with the world of TV & film and changed her career plans from college professor to starving artist -- I mean filmmaker. Although it was tough to leave her family and hometown, Halima moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts’ MFA Production program. There she developed her storytelling skills by writing and directing short films.

After graduating film school, Halima assumed her big break would happen in no time! After all, her short thesis film was nominated for a Student Academy Award. Instead she ended up sweeping glitter from the floors of Joann’s Fabrics for ten bucks an hour. Somewhere between the angry customers and the constantly clogged toilet, Halima developed a quirky, yet dark sense of humor – likely as a coping mechanism. She found herself thoroughly entertained by the different characters of the store and when she wasn’t at work stocking shelves of construction paper, she was at home channeling the hilarity of her day to day experiences into scripts. One fateful day at Joann’s while mopping up parrot poop (because someone just HAD to bring a parrot in the store), Halima spotted someone shoplifting and was instantly inspired. Clearly this person was out there living their “best life”, and maybe now it was time for her to do the same, so she quit.

Shortly after retiring from glitter sweeping, Halima was selected as a fellow for BREAK THE ROOM, a writer’s initiative put on by Nickelodeon Writing Program alum Sameer Gardezi and sponsored by Pop Culture Collab and MuslimARC. There, she and three other writers of color developed and wrote the web series, East of La Brea. It was that first writers’ room experience that made Halima fall in love with writing for television. Be it the craft store clientele or her siblings, she realized through TV, she could explore the memorable characters from her life through endless hilarious situations.

Soon after BREAK THE ROOM, Halima learned about the Nickelodeon Writing Program and immediately applied. She knew this was the perfect combination of everything that made her happy -- comedy, TV writing, and telling stories to kids! Now as part of the Program, she is overjoyed at the amazing opportunity to learn, laugh, and grow.

Sarah  Allan
Sarah Allan
2018/2019 Writing Program Alum

Raised by two therapists in bucolic New England, Sarah was a weird and inquisitive kid with a penchant for noticing and broadcasting the absurd and icky. Her first published work was an unflinching assessment of the toilet habits that led to unsavory bathroom conditions at the local roller rink. Her love of language and keen interest in human behavior drove her into the world of theater at age eight. Dissecting scripts beat by beat gave her a strong grasp of story structure, while delving into dozens of flawed and fabulous roles granted her an appreciation for character development. She adored the theatrical process, her fellow theater dorks, and all of her acting teachers, for whom she frequently composed epic love poems. As a teenager, Sarah spent an entire summer training at Shakespeare and Company in the Berkshires. She returned home speaking exclusively in iambic pentameter, which didn’t land her any prom dates. No matter, she had her sights set on NYU, and ultimately escaped the purgatory of adolescence to attend.

Sarah cherished every minute of the Tisch Drama program, from working in a creative ensemble every day to living in a vibrant city full of weirdos. Upon graduation, Sarah performed Shakespeare in Hell’s Kitchen, acted in a few avant-garde indie films, and was sawed in half every 48 seconds for fifteen-hour shifts as part of a haunted house at Madison Square Garden. She soon realized she needed a more sustainable day job (and probably, a tetanus shot).

Sarah’s love of children and disdain for office attire made nannying a perfect gig. She relished the unique opportunity to step into many different kinds of families and nurture dozens of hilarious, complicated, and insightful kids, all of whom she keeps in touch with.

Sarah eventually moved to Los Angeles to become a “real” actor. She booked a coveted gig as a clown for children’s birthday parties but was promptly asked to pack her balloon pump and go. She has no further comments on that matter.

Sarah returned to nannying, where her talents were appreciated and the makeup was less pore-clogging. One day, based solely on Sarah’s quippy emails, her nanny boss decided she was just the person to write taglines for a multi-million dollar film campaign due in twelve hours. Sarah didn’t have time to think that was nuts, so she did it. The campaign was a hit and Sarah went on to write over forty film and TV campaigns for multiple agencies. Emboldened, Sarah dipped her toe a bit further into literary waters, penning a nightlife column and writing online profiles of several high-powered orthodontists.

Sarah continued to act, performing in a sketch comedy group which was super fun, and auditioning for various “lady with one line” roles which was less fun. Sarah knew she had lots to say. It was Sarah’s lifelong love of language and character dynamics which drove her into acting as a child and Sarah finally realized her passion was grounded in telling stories of her own. She charged full steam ahead toward her ambition of becoming a TV writer. She studied at UCLA, and returned to the writers groups she’d attended as an actor, this time armed with her own scripts.

In her spare time, Sarah can be found writing, harassing her writer friends at odd hours demanding answers on script formatting issues that Google forgot to mention, and plotting revenge on the clowning community. Although Sarah’s parents would surely view writing about oneself in the third person as a symptom of a dissociative disorder, she finds it oddly liberating!

Michael Olmo
Michael Olmo
2018/2019 Writing Program: Preschool Track

As a child growing up in the Bronx, NY, Michael would constantly need to adjust the antenna on his TV in order to watch marathons of cartoons and family sitcoms. The shows he watched provided a much-needed escape from the reality he was living, which consisted of domestic violence, gangs, a father with a drug addiction, and overall hardship. Frightened that their son’s life was heading nowhere, his parents packed up the family and moved to Rockland County, NY, where it was quiet - so quiet that Michael had to play recordings of the busy city just so he could fall asleep.

During his high school years, he hung out with friends, chased girls, and played hooky instead of completing his school work. He even intercepted detention slips sent home from school by bribing the mailman with his lunch money. Everything changed senior year when he discovered he didn’t have enough credits to graduate. Taking things seriously for the first time in his life, he buckled down and went to night school in order to receive his diploma with his class.

After high school, he worked odd jobs and dropped out of college twice. It wasn’t until the births of his two beautiful daughters that his perspective shifted from making ends meet to wanting a sustainable career, as he realized his kids relied on him for more than cuddles, building pillow forts, and scaring monsters away. Motivated by the bedtime stories he told his girls, Michael found his inspiration and decided it was time to dedicate himself to the craft of storytelling.

Determined to pursue his newly found passion, he emptied his bank account, purchased every book on screenwriting, and downloaded an extensive collection of scripts that even the WGA library would marvel at. He taught himself structure, character arcs, and all the essential components necessary to write specs and original scripts. It took three years to sharpen his style, which reflects his upbringing and the joys of fatherhood.

As time passed, he was tormented with self-doubt and the fear of never breaking into the industry. He was on the verge of trading in his pencil for a CDL license. One night after crying himself to sleep, he awoke with a hunger and the drive to break in no matter what. He came across several writing contests, but felt the Nickelodeon Writing Program offered the greatest opportunity for his writing career. He could hear Helga screaming, “move it football head, enter”, so he applied.

Now as the Nickelodeon Writing Program’s first Preschool writer, Michael gets to share the stories he told his girls with the rest of the Nickelodeon universe.

Crescent Novell
Crescent Novell
2018/2019 Writing Program Alum

Crescent Imani Novell’s journey to writing started in a Memphis nightclub with pretty ladies and saxophone-playing men who really knew how to party. Okay, not really. But if you can picture that, then you’ve caught a glimpse of Crescent’s grandparents. They were Beale Street musicians who were rooted in family traditions and seemed to dip everything into jazz, sparking a sense of creativity in Crescent that she never lost—even when her mother moved her to Seattle.

As an only child, that creativity came in handy, inspiring her to write songs, games, stories… anything to keep her company. She got a chance to share that talent with others when she started attending summer camps. In the midst of s’mores and kumbayas, she’d write skits for her friends to perform around campfires. She lived for those moments, and eventually became known as the writer of her crew. She was even graced with a plaque: Class Writer and Friend (which she still has and strongly attributes as a major reason this bio is even necessary). The only thing Crescent did just as well as writing, was watching TV. We’re talking Olympic level qualifications! However, Crescent had yet to realize that the two things she loved most could be even better as one.

Instead, she became a teacher. One day she’ll create a show about the craziest, funniest, most infuriating moments in her classrooms. The episodes will be endless and the favorites will be the ones where she wrote plays for her students to perform for assemblies. The performances were so impactful that Crescent began to see her writing as more than just a hobby, and searched for ways it could be her career. Had it not been for a re-run of Ally McBeal and her dancing baby, she may have never discovered her true passion but one night, luckily, it happened. Ally was talking and for the first time ever, Crescent realized that her lines had been written. The words, “I want to write for television!” burst from Crescent’s lips and a journey to her new dream began.

Once in Los Angeles, Crescent wrote, directed and choreographed eight plays with a cast of over 350 students. Her play, Six Letters in Harlem, played to sold out audiences. She even had screenplays and specs that would make it to the first and seconds rounds of writing contests. The accolades were awesome but no matter how close she’d get to success, she kept being met with rejection. Years went by and the pursuit of her dreams started looking bad. We’re talking down-in the-dumps-everyone-says-give-up bad! Crescent was almost out of steam but her childhood plaque and her heart-felt passion to be a television writer kept pushing her to try again. In what felt like her last chance, Crescent devoted her entire life to writing: getting mentors, joining writer’s groups, watching videos, listening to panels, attending workshops, and writing and rewriting script after script until finally she got the call from Nickelodeon that changed her life. Now that she’s in the Program, Crescent values her journey and plans to put the best parts of it in her stories: music, friendship, family and the magic of never giving up.

Becky Prosky
Becky Prosky
2019/2020 Writing Program Alum

Growing up in the suburbs of Washington DC, Becky dreamed of many things. First on the list? Having cheesecake with The Golden Girls. While that may seem rather mature for a seven-year-old, Becky always had an appreciation for fine dairy products and (maybe) more importantly, female-driven narrative comedy. Though a sociable and friendly gal, Becky still managed to watch A LOT of TV, clocking in hours and hours in front of the tube after school, doing homework with I Dream of Jeannie, Ricky Lake (Go Ricky!), or Ghostwriter blaring away in the background. When she was finally forced to hang up the clicker after receiving a less than glowing report card in 6th grade, Becky turned from watching stories to writing them, though she still managed to sneak a few episodes of Letterman or SNL when her parents were asleep.

Writing opened up a whole new world and Becky did not dare close her eyes. She wrote about cheerful ghosts! And time machines! And world domination! And unicorns, of course. Becky made it her personal goal to make someone laugh every day, whether that be a classmate, friend, teacher, or pet hamster. Her hamster pretty much laughed at everything, but the others proved to be a tougher audience. However, as Becky came out of her shell, her humor began to lead the way for her. Funny became an obsession, and, eventually an identity, as she tested the boundaries of both the patience of those around her and the limits of good taste.

In college, Becky studied history and government, as those growing up in our nation’s capital are wont to do, but while studying the Federalist Papers by day, Becky read Without Feathers, Groucho and Me, and Seinlanguage by night (and sometimes also by day, when that John Jay guy grew tiresome). After graduating, she worked on several political campaigns and on Capitol Hill, but it never really felt right. Becky simply did not fit in with the other sear suckered whippersnappers and it was during this time she realized TV writing was what she wanted to pursue. So, Becky signed up for writing and improv classes to help get her started. She studied and analyzed TV and film, pinpointed what she loved and wanted to write (slapstick!) and what she did not love or ever want to write (ANYTHING scary!). Becky had some amazing internships along the way, spending one summer at Josephson Entertainment as a reader and another with Sony’s TV Comedy Development team, where she became completely immersed in the magic (and extremely hard work) involved in taking a show from script to screen.

Most recently, Becky created a short-form series for National Geographic Kids. As part of Nat Geo’s Kids vs. Plastic initiative, Becky introduced the world to “The Plastic Blaster,” a ten-year-old environmental revolutionary ready to take on the world one plastic-free craft at a time.

Becky is thrilled to join Nickelodeon where she hopes to expand her story horizons, learn the craft of writing funny and engaging content for kids, and get slimed on a daily basis

Jordan Mitchell
Jordan Mitchell
2019/2020 Writing Program Alum

An athletic introvert standing tall at 6’7”, Jordan always fought the never-ending battle between what he was and what people expected him to be. His father put him in basketball at a very young age -- teaching him how to dribble before he learned to walk (true story). Although most of his youth was spent on the court, Jordan’s heart was always fixated in the world of storytelling.  

Jordan’s love for writing first manifested itself through drawing his zany comic strip, “The Adventures of Fatman and Jelly Donut” every day in elementary school; wrapping up his epic storylines before recess, so he’s used to tight deadlines. His passion for stories later evolved to creating plays in junior high, which led to writing his first few screenplays in high school, all inspired by classic TV shows such as The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

From shooting baskets in his backyard to playing college hoops on TV, Jordan began to grow weary of the game. As a student-athlete on the Cal State Northridge basketball team, he couldn’t decide which was more stressful: studying for exams or avoiding getting dunked on by the Norwegian seven-footer at the home game. Upon coming to the realization that sports made him unhappy, he made a difficult decision, choosing to opt-out of his last year of eligibility and pursue screenwriting full time. Surprisingly, his father also supported this decision, despite his well-known desires for his son to play internationally. This felt like a huge weight was lifted off Jordan’s shoulders; like a caged lion being freed into the wild – if the lion also had a typewriter. Disconnecting from basketball took some adjusting, but he never felt more liberated.

After retiring from the demanding world of athletics, Jordan was accepted into Loyola Marymount University’s Screenwriting MFA program. Soon afterward he won a development deal with Legion of Creatives, a digital media company. Upon receiving his master’s degree at LMU, Jordan took on a few odd jobs to pay the bills, including working as a bouncer for a sports bar and substitute teaching (which were similar duties… only he found the kids could be much more mature than the adults)

Today, Jordan finds solace as a creative mind that channels his competitive spirit. At Nickelodeon, he intends to develop and hone his skills. He continues to embrace weird ideas, unafraid to tackle stories and characters both familiar and extraordinary, all while subverting expectations.

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