The Realness Institute has announced that it has selected 12 participants for its 2022 Episodic Lab and Development Executive Traineeship, in partnership with Netflix.

The Episodic Lab is aimed at developing story concepts by screenwriters from Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, while the Development Executive Traineeship offers African producers an opportunity to hone their story development skills.

The six writers selected for the Episodic Lab are: Hussein Kurji with Bushcamp (Kenya), Khanyo Mjamba with Byline (South Africa), Mlilo Mpondo with Bayeti-Visitors (South Africa), Neo Sibiya with Ukushona Kwelanga (The Setting of The Sun) (South Africa), Sandra Madu with From Lagos with Love (Nigeria) and Voline Ogutu with Dilemma (Kenya).

The Institute has also selected six aspiring development executives for its Development Executive Traineeship: Babalwa Baartman (South Africa), Khosie Dali (South Africa), Mona Ombogo (Kenya), Neiloe Whitehead (South Africa), Omotunde Akiode (Nigeria), Pedro Duarte Soulé (Cabo Verde).

The 12 participants will each receive a monthly stipend of Ksh. 231,800 ($2,000) from May through July, to cover personal expenses as they work on their concept and professional development.

For the Episodic Lab, the screenwriters will spend three months in a virtual lab developing their original story ideas. They will be mentored by Realness Institute’s creative producers Elias Ribeiro and Mehret Mandefro, and story consultants Selina Ukwuoma and Thandeka Zwana. The lab participants will then have the opportunity to pitch their projects to Netflix executives.

The Development Executive Traineeship participants will learn about the story development process through working alongside creative producers and story experts; and will work in teams to support the development of the Episodic Lab projects.

The Realness Institute is a non-profit organisation that aims to empower African creatives to tell their stories from an African point of view. The Episodic and Development Executive schemes were launched in June 2020; and received 200 applications across the two for this year. Kenya’s Mary Waireri was one of the writers selected Episodic Lab in 2021.

Projects to have come through the Institute’s primary residency include Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection, which went on to be Lesotho’s first-ever international feature Oscar entry.