PEAK Reveals Inaugural Writers Fellowship Class

EXCLUSIVE: The Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti has revealed its inaugural PEAK Writers Fellowship class.

Supported by Netflix, the new fellowship discovers and nurtures six emerging Pasifika writers who are looking to launch their careers in television. Founded by PEAK co-founder, director, screenwriter and showrunner Dana Ledoux Miller, this is the only writing program in Hollywood created by a Pasifika creative.

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The PEAK Writers Fellowship is designed to help early-career writers land their first staff writing positions. Each fellow will be paired with a high-level industry mentor to help transform their original scripts into professional-level writing samples to prepare them to land their first staff writing positions. Fellows also will participate in panels and discussions with top television and film industry professionals aimed at equipping them with the practical and business knowledge needed to succeed as a writer in the entertainment industry.

The 2024 PEAK Writers Fellowship class includes: Olivé (Jacqueline Olive), Sophia Perez, Matthew Dekneef, Tia Kanaeholo, Taylor Foreman-Niko and Davis Kop. They will receive mentorship from Naomi Scott (Great Scott Productions), Freddie Gutierrez (That Girl Lay Lay), Nevin Densham (Heroes Reborn), Kimberly-Rose Wolter (NCIS) and Bryson Chun (Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.).

RELATED: Fox Writers Incubator Names 2024 Fellows

“There are only a handful of Pasifika writers in the industry, so there’s a real urgency to build that pipeline, especially given the growing number of Pasifika stories being told by Hollywood with no Pasifika writers involved” said PEAK Executive Director and co-founder Kristian Fanene Schmidt. “This cohort is full of creativity and potential. There’s such depth and range across all of their scripts, so we have our work cut out for us.”

The fellowship is PEAK’s first talent development program to launch in 2024, with more initiatives rolling out later this year. The support from Netflix is part of the company’s Fund for Creative Equity, a dedicated effort to help build new opportunities for underrepresented communities within entertainment.

Here is more about the 2024 PEAK fellows and their projects:

 Olivé (Jacqueline Olive) | When All Is Lost
In order to keep her family from starving to death, a housewife enters the perilous black-market industry in 1946 post-war Japan and must keep it secret from her husband – a newly appointed Tokyo judge.

Olivé is a Tongan-American filmmaker who’s worked most of her adult life near Tokyo, uses film as a tool to bring visibility to stories from her family’s history and culture as well as Japan’s. She recently worked on Pachinko as a Japanese Language Consultant, and in 2024, she entered a development deal with Pacific Islanders in Communications to direct Like Father Like Daughter, a documentary about Olivé, her father, and her Japanese ex-boyfriend who strive to heal their immigrant traumas while living together under one roof.

Sophia Perez | Planet Oakland 
A nerdy kid from another galaxy, Kornbeef Zorpas struggles to find his place in the chaotic halls of Oakland Middle School.

Sophia is a Chamorro filmmaker with roots in the Mariana Islands and San Francisco Bay Area. She created and directed Island Time, a Chamorro children’s show shot on Saipan, and is currently directing Tip of the Spear, a documentary about the indigenous-led resistance to the ongoing military buildup in the Marianas. Sophia is a Pacific Islanders in Communications grant recipient, a co-founder of the Saipan-based nonprofit Fåha Digital Media, and a current PhD student in UC Berkeley’s Geography department.

Matthew Dekneef |The Beachboys
Waikiki, 1959. In the summer before Statehood, a rakish Native Hawaiian beachboy reaps the rewards of tourism, until an old flame and an unexpected discovery force him to question his loyalties.

Matthew is a writer, born and raised on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. His writing draws inspiration from his Native Hawaiian heritage and oceanic homeland, often exploring the moral complexities faced by its island communities. As a journalist, he is the editor of Flux Hawaii, a Pacific-focused arts and culture publication, and formerly served as the editor of Lei, a travel journal for the LGBTQ community. He has reported on Hawaiian history, indigeneity, and issues for The New York Times, T Magazine, Them, SSENSE, Teen Vogue, and others. He is repped by 3 Arts and RBEL Agency.

Tia Kanaeholo | Unprofessional
An overworked and underpaid alcoholic thinks she is perfectly balancing her career, relationships, and sobriety, but the temptation of LA’s “cocaine on Saturday, green juice on Monday” hustle culture might be her Achilles’ heel.

Tia is a Native Hawaiian multi-hyphenate actor, writer, and producer. She recently earned her MFA in Writing and Producing for Television at Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television where she was awarded the SFTV Writing and Producing for Television Department award. Her dramedy pilot ‘unprofessional’ received an Honorable Mention in the inaugural LMU MFA Screenwriting competition. In her work, Tia writes about complex individuals navigating spaces not meant for them while confronting and deconstructing their cultural identities just like she does every day.

Taylor Foreman-Niko | Samoan/American
When down-on-his-luck, Mark, a half-Samoan vet and felon, is approached by a shady CIA case officer with a deadly mission that requires he utilize his Samoan identity, he weighs its potential danger and moral compromises against the opportunity to finally feel connected to his culture.

Taylor is a Samoan American writer currently residing in Los Angeles, California. He enjoys writing character-centric genre stories that explore identity. His horror feature, The Allerdale Bus Tragedy was selected for the 14th annual BloodList of Best Unproduced Horror and Thriller Scripts, and his family drama feature, Behemoth was awarded Best Screenplay by the Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards for its inaugural Diversity Initiative. He was also recently selected to participate in the Stowe Narrative Lab, run by Stowe Story Labs in Vermont. He is repped by Jeff Portnoy at Bellevue.

Davis Kop | Mise en Place
Inspired by the events of Bon Appetit and their YouTube channel, “Mise en Place” is an ensemble comedy that follows a group of diverse editors of a popular food magazine who must find a way to keep their livelihoods afloat after a scandal forces out their Editor-in-Chief and subsequently, their fellow White colleagues.

Davis is a Native Hawaiian-Chinese-Filipino writer born and raised on the island of Oʻahu. Upon graduating from culinary school, Kop worked as a chef in Hawaiʻi for several years before turning his efforts towards screenwriting. Kop attended Hawaiʻi Pacific University and graduated with a degree in Multimedia Cinematic Arts. During his time at HPU, Kop interned at The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Kop worked as a production assistant on FX’s Baskets. Recently, he was the writers’ assistant for FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest, and has written episodes for both series.

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