Native American Media Alliance Reveals 2024 Showrunners Program Fellows

The Native American Media Alliance has revealed the selections for its fifth annual Native American Showrunner Program. See the list below.

Sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, Cherokee Film and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Native American Showrunner Program is a multi-month intensive that offers mentorship from television showrunners and series creators to experienced Native American writers. The program has expanded to include Native American producers in unscripted as well.

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Program fellows take part in several meetings with assigned showrunner mentors who offer guidance on furthering the fellows’ writing and producing careers and provide creative feedback on current projects. The program consists of weekly one-on-one mentoring to develop the writers’ and producers’ abilities, offer advice as it pertains to producing for television and provide overall insight into running a television series.

The Native American Showrunner Program is designed to propel experienced Native American writers to the highest levels of television writing and producing. This initiative continues the Native American Media Alliance’s drive for inclusion and focuses on new points of access for the Native American community. The fellowship is an extension of the organization’s ongoing development programs as it equips the next generation of Native American writers and producers with the skills and professional network to break into television producing positions.

“This endeavor has been a groundbreaking resource for experienced Native writers seeking advanced career development,” said Ian Skorodin, Director of Strategy for the Native American Media Alliance. “In this challenging environment, we are continuing to push the industry to support the Native American community.”

​​The Native American Showrunner Program was created to expand the number of Native Americans working in writers rooms and producing for television to increase fair and accurate portrayals of Native Americans on television. Native Americans continue to maintain the lowest representation within current television series.

Here are the 2024 Native American Showrunner Program fellows:

Jamie Brunton has pursued a background in stand-up and sketch comedy, and was a senior writer on The Ellen Show for 8 years. She was also a writer on Ellen’s Game of Games for 3 years. Comedy is Jamie’s absolute favorite thing and she is especially passionate about Native stories. She is a proud descendant of the Colville and Spokane people of eastern Washington state and has worked closely with the Native American Media Alliance and LA Skins Fest for several years. She is the recipient of 6 Emmy awards for her work on Ellen and is excited about exploring the voices of women and social issues through comedy.

Heidi-Marie Ferren is an award-winning Cherokee/Sioux-Polish-American writer, producer, actor and singer/songwriter who is currently staffed on the hit Shonda Rhimes ABC show, Station 19. Heidi is a 2023 Disney/ABC Fellowship recipient and her original pilots & screenplays have garnered awards & recognition from over three dozen film festivals worldwide.

Heidi recently served as a writer under Showrunner/Creator, Jim O’Doherty (Third Rock From the Sun, Grounded for Life) developing two new comedy pilots and her pilot about the New York City Carpenter’s Union was recently named a finalist for the prestigious Josephson Entertainment Fellowship and a winner in Screenwriting at the Beverly Hills Film Festival. Heidi is an Executive Producer and Co-Creator of the Series The Countdown, which premiered at the Nashville Film Festival and has currently received over 27 awards for best new series pilot and women’s empowerment story. She is also a producer on the series, This Boy’s Vida: Made in America, which is made its world premiere in at Series Fest.

Here are the unscripted fellows:

Faith Phillips, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is a novelist, screenwriter, and producer living in the Ozark foothills. After trying her hand at waitressing, tele-marketing, bingo ball pulling, and lawyering, Phillips left active law practice to author four books and multiple feature screenplays. She created the sub-genre known as Okie Noir, a scion of southern goth and magical realism. Faith’s third book, Now I Lay Me Down, was selected by Hulu and Stanley Nelson’s Firelight Films for limited series development through the Kindling Fund initiative.

Phillips is the creator, writer, and executive producer of the national docu-series The Girl Scout Murders, set in the Cherokee Nation. Current projects include Missing and Murdered, an unscripted series designed to help solve #MMIR cold cases, and the scripted crime noir thriller, Mankiller Shell. The author lives with her family on the Cherokee Nation Reservation, where Okie Noir stories spark her fiery passion for the written word. When she’s not writing screenplays, Phillips travels the national speaking circuit telling stories about teaching, writing, and producing in Indian Country. In addition to writing for the screen, Faith launched the non-profit initiative, Beyond the Trail, where she and fellow activists are building a vibrant arts and cultural district in their community.

The Native American Media Alliance (NAMA) advocates for Native American representation in the entertainment industry. This initiative functions as a resource for industry personnel to work with Native Americans who have an authentic voice for film, television and new media. The Native American Media Alliance is a project of the Barcid Foundation; a non-profit organization that focuses on multimedia programming in Indigenous communities.

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