CAPE & Starz #TakeThe Lead Set Showrunners Incubator Inaugural Class for Asian & Pacific Islander TV Writers

EXCLUSIVE: The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment reveals the inaugural class for its latest program, the CAPE Showrunners Incubator, powered by Starz #TakeTheLead.

They are Kiel McNaughton, Chris Bessounian, Johanna Lee, Aaron Ho, Oanh Ly, Tianna Majumdar-Langham, Lauren Moon and Kyle Lau.

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Building on more than a decade with the CAPE New Writers Fellowship for emerging TV writers, the Showrunners Incubator focuses on the other end of the TV writing spectrum. Asian and Pacific Islander TV writers on the brink of showrunning are offered the opportunity to receive exclusive mentorship and real-world training and education.

Among the mentors, speakers and contributors participating are Albert Cheng, VP, Head of Prime Video U.S.; Alex Tse, showrunner, Wu-Tang: An American Saga; Jessica Gao, head writer, She-Hulk: Attorney At Law; Dana Ledoux Miller, co-showrunner, Thai Cave Rescue; Monica Macer, showrunner, Macgyver and Gentefied; Christian Bustamante, casting director, The Accidental Getaway Driver; and Talha Asad, VP, Drama Programming, HBO.

“Executives constantly ask CAPE to recommend showrunners, and when we include number twos on our list, we often hear they prefer previous showrunners, which creates a bit of a catch-22,” said Michelle K. Sugihara, CAPE’s Executive Director. “Thus, recognizing the unique skill set required of showrunners (including both creative and management skills), we designed this program as a hands-on Showrunner prep training ground primarily focused on writers with an immediate need and far along in the development process.”

“Starz is thrilled to continue its support of CAPE and this new Showrunner Incubator, and develop new leaders for the entertainment industry,” Kathryn Busby, President, Original Programming, Starz, shared. “Uplifting diverse talent in front of and behind the camera is at the core of who we are as a company. Through Starz #TakeTheLead, we are creating spaces where diverse creators feel valued, respected and heard. It is our ongoing commitment to provide opportunities for underrepresented voices and supply them with necessary training to advance their careers.”

The inaugural class consists of experienced drama and comedy writers with imminent shows in development. Learn more about them below.

Aaron Ho (he/him) is a Chinese American writer from Fresno, Calif., focusing on stories featuring culture clash, hopeless romantics, and loud families oddly similar to his own. After paying his way through college with the help of poker winnings, Aaron began his career as a CAPE New Writers Award winner and alum of the Disney ABC Writing Program. He currently has a pilot in development at Nickelodeon. His credits include Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally, Netflix’s Trolls: The Beat Goes On! and ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat.

Johanna Lee (she/her) is the showrunner and executive producer for Pearl, a project set up at Wiip Studios. She is also a co-executive producer on Netflix’s Pulse. She recently developed a Revenge spinoff for ABC/ABC Signature/Temple Hill and an original idea for Sony entitled Privilege. Before, she was a co-EP on Star Trek: Discovery and The CW’s reboot of Charmed. Her credits also include Netflix’s Altered Carbon, ABC’s The Good Doctor and ABC’s Scandal, where she wrote the 100th episode of the series. Before writing for television, Johanna directed the Netflix documentary The Pit, inspired by her time as a trader on Wall Street.

Lauren Moon (she/they) is a queer, third-generation Korean American writer based in Los Angeles by way of Dallas, Texas. Moon loves stories of offbeat characters finding their voices and has been lucky to explore that as a writer on Good Trouble, Atypical, Dash & Lily, and as a writer-producer for series and pilots from Netflix, Sony, Amazon and Apple. She is an alum of the 2018 CAPE New Writers Fellowship.

Kiel McNaughton (he/him) is a writer, director and producer of diverse narrative content including the comedy series Good Grief (Sundance Now/AMC/IFC), the film trilogy of Waru, Vai and Kāinga and the action-comedy The Legend of Baron To’a, which marked his directorial feature debut. In 2023, he won Best Director from the 2023 New Zealand Television Awards for the telefeature Princess of Chaos. McNaughton is the creator and showrunner of the upcoming 8-part drama series, Tangata Pai for Warner Bros Discovery/Three in New Zealand. As a director, Kiel’s next feature is the horror/thriller Whyte Xmas.

Kyle Lau (he/him) is a WGA Award-nominated writer/director from San Francisco. He is a writer/producer for the upcoming 20th series, Deli Boys for Onyx on Hulu, and also served as writer/co-producer for HBO Max’s Clone High and Comedy Central’s Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens. Previously, Lau worked as a staff writer on ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat. He is currently developing and executive producing an animated project with Sony Television and music label, 88rising.

Oanh Ly (she/her) was born in Sài Gòn, Việt Nam. She arrived in America as a boat refugee and grew up in Houston, Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Austin where she studied playwriting. She started her TV writing career on the hit CBS crime show Criminal Minds. Her credits include The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Sweet Tooth. She currently has projects in development with Twentieth TV and Tomorrow Studios.

Tianna Majumdar-Langham (she/her) & Chris Bessounian (he/him) are co-executive producers on the eighth season of CBS’s S.W.A.T. They’re also developing a legal drama, The Justice Factory, with John Wells Productions and WBTV. They previously worked on all six seasons of Fox’s The Resident. They are Academy Nicholl Fellows with their screenplay, Guns and Saris, which Freida Pinto is producing. Tianna is British Indian. Chris is Armenian and Egyptian and was raised in Australia.

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