Mara Brock Akil Expands Artist Residency for Aspiring Filmmakers

Showrunner Mara Brock Akil launched the artist’s residency The Writers Colony several years ago and is now expanding her efforts, launching a new program on the set of her upcoming Netflix series Forever.

Akil has launched the Shadow Program that will see alumni from The Writers Colony join her on the set of the Judy Blume adaptation Forever with the hope of providing hands-on experience and insights into television productions. In addition to experiences on set, the participants will receive mentorship and networking opportunities.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

Forever is an adaptation of the Blume novel of the same name and will star Lovie Simone and Michael Cooper Jr. as two teens who are each other’s first loves.

“With the launch of The Writers’ Colony Shadow Program, we are furthering our commitment to our writers by moving them from crafting stories on the page to intentionally and collaboratively building worlds on set. Our program provides our alumni with real-life tools to continue on their paths to creative success,” said Akil in a statement.

The latest effort is an extension of the three-month screenwriting residencyb that Akil founded in 2021, which takes place in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles, next door to the offices of Akil’s Story 27 banner.

Participants in the newly launched Shadow Program include Aquilla Mikel, an English teacher turned screenwriter who has worked as a showrunner’s assistant on Swagger and Genius: MLK/X; Aissa Rose Gueye, a Senegalese American writer whose past work has included posts on Rap Sh!t and Random Acts of Flyness; Latasha Mercer, who recently completely a staff writer position on The Psychological Evolution of F*ckboys for Keke Palmer’s KeyTV Network; and Luis Santos, a Bronx native who began his career in advertising at places like McCaan before transition to film and TV work, where he has directed on programming such as the MTV VMAs and for artists like Victoria Monet.

“I’m proud to be in community with Luis, Aquillia, Aissa and Latasha, all of whom are stellar examples of writers who have the prowess to be powerhouse showrunners, directors and leaders in the next iteration of our fast-changing industry,” Akil continued.

Best of The Hollywood Reporter