On this special evening, we partner with Stephens College MFA in Screenwriting and Television to sit down with a panel of Latina TV writers and producers. We'll gain insight into how they found and developed their voices as writers, how they broke into the industry, and each of their approaches to working your way up in a writers room.
Tawnya Bhattacharya (A Million Little Things, Famous in Love, The Night Shift)
Maria Escobedo (Nina's World, Elena of Avalor, East Los High)
Dailyn Rodriguez (Queen of the South, The Night Shift, The Glades)
Moderated by WGF Board Member and Stephens College Advisor Ligiah Villalobos (The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story, Go, Diego! Go!)
Doors open at 7pm. Event starts at 7:30pm.
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About the Panelists
Tawnya Benavides Bhattacharya is a television writer/producer and founder of Script Anatomy.
With her writing partner Ali Laventhol, she is currently a writer/supervising producer on ABC's upcoming A Million Little Things. They previously wrote on Famous in Love (Freeform), The Night Shift (NBC), Perception (TNT), The Client List (Lifetime) and Fairly Legal (USA).
They are former NBC Writers on the Verge fellows, and were semi-finalists for the ABC Disney Fellowship before getting a job that took them out of the running. Bhattacharya was also a FOX Writer’s Intensive fellow.
A screenwriting teacher for the past 13 years, Bhattacharya launched Script Anatomy in 2011 just as her career was taking off. Her objective: to use her experience of breaking into the industry and building a career to help other writers do the same.
She created a unique writing curriculum with trademark tools for development, writing and rewriting, which have helped hundreds of writers advance in their careers. As a guest instructor, Bhattacharya has brought the Script Anatomy method to ISA (the International Screenwriters Association), Stage 32, the TV Writers Fund, and, for the past 3 years, the Disney | ABC Writing Program. She has mentored for ISA and CineStory TV Writers Retreat in Idyllwild. Her column “Your TV Guide“ can be read in Script Magazine.
An alumnus of Cornish College of the Arts Conservatory, Bhattacharya studied acting and playwriting, and interned with playwright, Marie Irene Fornes and New City Theater in Seattle. She has performed in Seattle, Chicago, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic and LA.
The team is repped by UTA, Heroes and Villains Entertainment and Morris Yorn.
Maria Escobedo is a native New Yorker with a BFA in film from New York’s School of Visual Arts. She studied screenwriting at NYU, playwriting at The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, and earned a TV Writing Fellowship from ABC/Disney. Maria’s writing credits include ABC’sGrey’s Anatomy and HULU’s Emmy nominated Original Series East Los High.
Maria has written original movies for Lifetime, Disney Channel, and developed an original TV pilot for Nickelodeon. She has also written for several animated shows on Nick Jr., Disney Jr., and NBC’s Sprout. Maria is very proud to have worked for two of the most influential women in television: Shonda Rhimes and Dora the Explorer!
On the feature side, Maria’s very first screenplay, which she wrote with her partner and husband was optioned by Citadel Entertainment. Their second screenplay, Rum and Coke was produced as an independent film, which Maria also directed, and garnered critical and popular attention at international film festivals.
Maria is a proud member of the Writer’s Guild of America and has been Chair of the Latino Writers Committee for the past four years. Maria has taught extensively for USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, teaching classes in both television and screenplay. Maria also served as Adjunct Professor in Film/TV/Media at LaGuardia College in NYC, and taught directing at Film/Video Arts, NYC.
Dailyn Rodriguez was born in New York City to Cuban parents. She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she graduated with a BFA in Dramatic Writing. In 2001 she participated in The Walt Disney Studios Writing Fellowship. Since then she has written for George Lopez, Freddie, Ugly Betty, Cane, 90210, In Plain Sight, Lie to Me, The Glades, and The Night Shift. She received, along with her co-writers, a Writer’s Guild Award for Writing for a New Series (Ugly Betty). She is currently the Executive Producer/Co-Showrunner on Queen of the South.
About the Moderator
Ligiah Villalobos is a Writer, Producer, Consultant, Educator and Lecturer. She is best known for the independent feature film Under the Same Moon, (La Misma Luna), which she wrote and executive produced. The film was released by Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company in 2008 after it was acquired at the Sundance Film Festival, where it became the highest sale for a Spanish-language film in the history of Sundance. Made for under $2M, the film earned over $23M worldwide.
More recently, Villalobos was a Cultural Consultant on the Academy Award winning Pixar movie, COCO, which has become the highest grossing movie of all time in Mexico (and highest grossing Pixar movie in China). She is also the recipient of the Humanitas Prize, for writing the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Firelight, produced by Alicia Keys and Mary Martin, which aired on ABC in 2013.
Villalobos has developed projects for multiple studios and networks, including ABC, NBC, ABC/Family (now Freeform), F/X, Showtime, BET, HBO, and Sesame Street, among others. The latest being, a half hour pilot for STARZ titled The Dirty Girls Social Club, based on the NY Times bestselling book.
Villalobos co-wrote the 2016 Lifetime TV Movie, The Real MVP, based on the life of Kevin Durant’s mother, produced by Queen Latifah and Shelby Stone. And she was the Head Writer for three seasons on Nick Jr.’s hit children’s show Go, Diego! Go!
In addition to COCO, Villalobos has consulted on the Disney movie, Planes and the TV series, Reed Between the Lines for BET and Nina’s World for SPROUT.
Before becoming an independent writer/producer, Villalobos was a studio executive at The Walt Disney Company, where she oversaw television production in Latin America for five years, launching eight #1 children shows in seven countries and then overseeing the Writing Fellowship Program and the Directors Training Program for the Studio. She then worked as a Current Programming Executive at The WB, where she oversaw six prime times shows, including the four highest rated shows on the network.
Villalobos recently sold an animated series to the Disney Channel titled Adelita y Señorita and is developing a property for Sesame Street Workshop. She is currently writing on two Netflix animated children’s series, Super Monsters and StarBeam. She is also a writer and associate producer on the animated feature film Koati, currently in production.
In addition to teaching at multiple universities, including Cal State LA, USC and Colorado College, Villalobos lectures and does writing workshops around the world, including for the Sundance Film Institute, Film Independent, Taipei’s Film Commission, San Miguel de Allende’s Writers Conference, and NALIP. She has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, The Black List Blog and Americana magazine. She is on the Board of the Writers Guild Foundation and the Immigrant Defenders Law Center. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University.