Gil Hizon is a half-hour writer who was born and raised in the Philippines. A serial monogamist and a child of divorce, Gil is drawn to stories about how people cope with relationship issues. For instance, he believes that people find out who they really are when trying to pick up the pieces after a breakup. The comedies Gil writes tend to be unapologetic, grounded and emotional. Gil has BA degrees in Psychology, Theater and TV Writing/Producing. He’s also a self-proclaimed astrology expert. He’s a graduate of Fairfield University and Columbia College Chicago, and is thrilled to be a part of the 2017-2018 CBS Writers Mentoring Program.
"You write what you wanna see on TV. That's it."
• Gil Hizon on Instagram
• Gil's beat sheet placemat
• Gil's proofreading process
• Gil's writing space
Morgan Dover-Pearl was born in Austin, Texas but thanks to her adventurous parents spent her early formative years in Spain and Argentina. Morgan’s love for storytelling was first ignited by Argentina’s abundant power outages. She wrote, or more accurately one should say dictated (because let’s be honest, at seven her writing skills were limited) plays for her and her little sister to perform while they waited out the hours of darkness. If only her time in Argentina had been solely plays and power outages, but unfortunately her father was targeted by the corrupt Argentinian government and falsely held captive for two and half years. Despite the severity of the situation, Morgan’s mother worked incredibly hard to make sure that her daughters had a normal childhood. Through her mother’s example, Morgan was fortunate to learn at a young age the power of resilience, that optimism is a courageous act and that there is humor to be found even in the darkest moments. That outlook on life informs who Morgan is as a person and who she is as a writer.
Morgan received a BFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University and an MFA in Acting from Brown University. After years of perusing acting while also working as an interior decorator, because a girl’s gotta eat on a consistent basis, Morgan decided she was ready to return to her storytelling roots. Her debut as a writer came in the form of a short film that had its World Premiere at the Austin Film Festival. Leaving that experience encouraged and inspired she made the decision to fully shift her focus to writing. She is also an alumna of the Warner Bros. Writers' Workshop.
"It's not lost on me for one second that writing is an art form, that it's a craft, and there are things to be learned."
• Morgan's AFF short film Lunch Break
Rachel Avery is an award-winning actor/writer/director who recently won the Producers Encore Award at the Hollywood Fringe Festival for her work developing and directing the one woman show The Pleasure Project, which just completed a run in Adelaide, Australia.
She recently directed, wrote, and starred in the TV comedy Wake Up America! which is now available on Amazon Prime. Rachel’s short film Jet Lag, premiered at the California Women’s Film Festival. She was nominated for Best Director of a Musical by the Calgary Theatre Critics’ Awards for Blanche, which premiered at the New York Musical Festival and Huffington Post put it on the list of top 20 shows for 2011. Rachel has been actively shadowing TV Directors on Criminal Minds and the upcoming Roseanne reboot.
As an actress, she performed Off-Broadway and around the world in Re-Animator the Musical, (Original Cast Recording) directed by Stuart Gordon and co-starring George Wendt. Film/TV appearances include Tropic Thunder, The Giant Mechanical Man, Big Love, Reno 911, State of Georgia, Movie of the Week for the Hallmark Channel, and the horror flick Big Game. She is a proud member of Rogue Machine Theater and Pacific Resident Theater in Los Angeles winning Ovation, LADCC and LA Weekly Awards. Rachel graduated from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.
"I write with a director's mind... And I think that's why I get hung up on action, because I think that is the place where I ask, "How do you succinctly express in the written word what is ultimately going to be a visual experience for the audience."
• Rachel Avery on Twitter
• Rachel's pilot, Wake Up America!
Kara Lee Burk began writing while working with The Second City-Detroit and various sketch comedy troupes in New York City. An alumni of the Warner Bros Television Writers Workshop, she has been staffed as a writer on Romantically Challenged (ABC), Melissa & Joey (ABC Family) and The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show (Dreamworks / Netflix). She has developed multiple series, wrote on Hanazuki, a bunch digital shorts for The Littlest Pet Shop (both on YouTube) and is currently a writer for the upcoming Costume Quest (Amazon).
"[For writer's block], I switch gears and work on something else for a day. It's like a game of Jenga. You gotta poke at different blocks and work on the ones that move. And if something is stuck, you don't know how moving to another project, something may shift and you'll see the answer."
• Kara Lee Burk on Twitter
Nadia Madden is a former 911 dispatcher turned screenwriter. She’s found success as a Humanitas: New Voices Finalist and Sundance Episodic Storylab Semifinalist. Her law enforcement background finds its way into every script. Nadia often writes about underdog characters, particularly women, who persevere despite their circumstances. And although her San Francisco, Chinatown one-hour pilot is intentionally not laden with martial arts, Nadia happens to hold a first degree black belt in Kenpo Karate.
"They say, 'Write what you know.' I think it's writing what you know emotionally, whether you want to or not that's gonna come out."
• Nadia Madden on Twitter
Marc Warzecha is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Writers Guild of America Associate Member, and was a writer for Season 2 of Comedy Central's Detroiters. Marc recently wrote for Disney Digital's Babble brand and was a recent finalist in NBC Writers on the Verge and Final Draft Big Break. With The Second City comedy theatre, he is multiple-time Jeff Award nominated head writer/director. His work as a satirist has been featured on ABC's "Nightline," Newsweek magazine, and the Washington Post, he has guested on CNN's "Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" and NPR's "All Things Considered."
"Sometimes when I first sit down to write, I'll take out a spiral notebook and write anything that might be churning in my mind, especially if I'm in the middle of a really busy day. Writing out my emotions, writing out how I'm feeling right now, getting that on the page to kind of release it."
• Marc Warzecha on Twitter
• Marc's website
• Marc's pilot The Trumpmaid's Tale
• Lee Jessup, career coach
• The TV Writer's Workbook by Ellen Sandler
Jimmy Mosqueda is a comedy writer born and raised in the deserts of Southern California, more specifically the Imperial and Coachella Valleys. Yup, he was at Coachella before it was cool. Growing up the youngest son of a large and eccentric Mexican-American family, Jimmy often finds humor in the awkward and embarrassing experiences of adolescence. He pulls from his own life to create characters and situations that are heightened and satirical but remain grounded in real emotion. In 2016, Jimmy was a participant in the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Intensive, where he workshopped his high school dark comedy, Valedictorian. He was a 2016-17 Film Independent Writing Fellow and a 2017 TV Writing Fellow with the National Hispanic Media Coalition. He has developed, optioned and written projects for several production companies, and his short film, The Station, premiered at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival.
"I think [being flexible with your story] is an important asset to have as a writer. Things can change and if you're closed off to it, and if you're not open to that change, your story might not go to that next level."
• Jimmy Mosqueda on Twitter
Polina Diaz is a comedy writer from Russia and Florida. Yeah. She graduated with a BFA in Writing for Screen and Television from USC and went through the Warner Bros. Writers' Workshop. She was a staff writer on Fuller House and recently sold a sitcom to the digital studio Astronauts Wanted. She’s currently writing for People of Earth. She’s also a member of UNICEF's Next Generation, a group of young professionals that raise money for UNICEF’s lifesaving work.
"When I focused more on myself, my writing got better. The writing I'm doing now is so much better than the writing I did before when I thought I had to be a sad, broken person."
Growing up, Thomas Reyes' Filipino immigrant parents moved a lot. He attended seven different schools, and lived in Las Vegas for seven years, all by the time he was in middle school. As an only child, he could make friends easily, but sitcoms became his surrogate siblings. He attended UCLA and after graduating, instead of going to law school, he studied sitcom writing at UCLA Extension. He has held a variety of positions in both scripted and unscripted television and has written for ISAtv as well the BuzzFeed series Ask an Asian. He has also written for the Disney ABC Talent Showcase and the CBS Diversity Sketch Workshop. He was a semifinalist at the Austin Film Festival and New York Television Festival. He recently completed the Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop and is currently Staff Writer on the upcoming half-hour dramedy American Woman which will premiere in early 2018 on the newly launched Paramount Network.
"[The professor] tore my script apart. It was brutal but it was a great lesson in not being precious... It's fine. I can go back to the drawing board and I'll still have more ideas, I'll still have more pages to write."
Geeta Malik received her Master of Fine Arts from UCLA’s graduate film program in directing. She wrote and directed the viral narrative short, Aunty Gs, which earned a College Television Award (a “student Emmy”) in comedy production from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Her short film, Beast, played at Method Fest and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. Geeta is a recipient of the Edie and Lew Wasserman Film Production Award, the Coppel Screenwriting Award and the Jack Nicholson Distinguished Director Award.
Geeta’s first feature film, Troublemaker, premiered at the 2011 Cinequest Film Festival, and was distributed by Asian Crush. In 2012, Geeta was a finalist for the ABC/Disney Directing Fellowship. She was a Film Independent Project Involve Fellow for 2013 – 2014. Her most recent short film, Shameless, has played at over 15 festivals, including the Sedona Film Festival, and won the jury award for best comedy at the Long Beach QFilm Festival.
Geeta is a winner of the 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting for her latest feature script, Dinner With Friends. She is also the winner of the 2016 Austin Film Festival Feature Comedy Screenplay award, also for Dinner With Friends.
"I'll have a lot of times where I'll sit for hours in front of the keyboard and not be able to write anything and be like, "God, this sucks! I'm horrible, I'm never going to get through this," and I'll get up and I'll walk away and literally a minute later I'll be like, "Oh!" and I'll come back in and have an idea. It's just a matter of just leaving that space for a second."
• Geeta Malik on Twitter