Four young African screenwriters from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa have been selected for the AuthenticA Series Lab. The screenwriting training initiative is a partnership between the Realness Institute, The Storyboard Collective, and Series Mania. The lab is set to commence at the end of September.

After a selection process in which screenwriters had to submit their original story ideas for an episodic series. The four participants announced are Angela Wamai (Kenya), Chantel Clark (South Africa), Jessica Hagan (Ghana), and Tony Sebastian Ukpo (Nigeria).

They participants will undergo a six-month television series lab to develop their stories, under the mentorship of Story Expert, Selina Ukwuoma, and Creative Producer, Mehret Mandefro. “The four selected participants all have a range of ideas and approaches to their episodic series, which will make for a creatively dynamic lab.” says Realness Executive Director, Elias Ribeiro. The programme, designed by Ribeiro, also offers opportunities to engage with a host of industry experts.

Kenyan Angela Wamai studied film in Havana, Cuba, and works as a film editor in Nairobi. She has written several short films and recently completed her debut feature film Shimoni (The Pit) which she wrote, directed, and edited. She was recently awarded best film editor by the Women in Film Awards-Kenya.

Director and screenwriter, Chantel Clark, is an Honours graduate in Television Drama (UCT) and holds a MFA from the Film Program at Columbia University. Her script for her directorial feature debut, Wit Gesigte (Pale Faces), was selected for several development labs including the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab. Her MFA thesis film, Our Albertinia, was screened at over 25 international film festivals. She is currently an ambassador for Girls in Film South Africa.

Accra-based Ghanaian-British writer, Jessica Hagan, enjoys exploring themes of identity, displacement, and misogynoir in her work. Her debut play Queens of Sheba has won numerous awards over the years. It played to sold-out houses in its 4 weeks run with 4- and 5-star reviews across the board at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival and continues to enjoy sold-out seasons in the UK. In 2023, Queens of Sheba will have a 3-week run at The Public Theatre, New York City.

France-based Nigerian Filmmaker and photographer, Tony Sebastian Ukpo, trained at the London Film School (LFS), before which he had already explored various creative enterprises in theatre, graphic novels, and photography, as well as film. He has written and directed an eclectic range of films, including Paris 60, Japanese murder mystery Random 11 with Haruka Abe, British Nollywood romantic comedy Mum, Dad, Meet Sam starring Joseph Benjamin, and immigration drama Simana among others.

“StoryBoard seeks to promote independent African episodic content. We seek to support powerful, authentic, and unapologetic voices. We understand that these narratives must start with good stories; these four scriptwriters have most definitely achieved that. Now, it is up to AuthenticA to support them throughout the Residency and, ultimately, at Series Mania to do our utmost to get these brilliant stories on national, regional, and international screens,” says David Rimer, Founder of The Storyboard Collective.

To kickstart the programme the four participants will begin the Lab with an eight-day residency in South Africa in September. This will be followed by a few months of online mentorship, meetings, and support, culminating in a 10-week residency in Switzerland in 2023. The outcome of the Lab is to support and mentor each participant into delivering a pilot script, a pitch deck and a professional pitch which they will present at Series Mania Forum 2023, while also attending meetings with international decision makers.