Fall/Winter 2020

The 2nd Annual Native Writers Room brings together a collection of experienced Native American television writers to foster a new and genuine approach to portraying Native Americans in media. The room will result in a new series produced from the Native writers and will be a transformative piece that explores new topics in the Native American arena such as abuse on tribal lands, the role served in American politics and exploring the rights of Indigenous women. The Native Writers Room will serve as a pipeline for Native American writers to develop their craft in a unique setting and advance their careers with new material that can be included in their overall writing portfolio.

The program is a project of the Barcid Foundation and sponsored by the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Pop Culture Collaborative.

Selections for the 2nd Annual Native American Writers Room:

William Jehu Garroutte

Shelley Dennis

Tom Hanada 

Doane Tulugaq Avery

The Native Writers Room is a groundbreaking project designed to provide Native writers an opportunity to work in an all-Native writers room setting. This allows for unfiltered storytelling from the Native American perspective.

The project addresses the lack of Native American writers in television and film. With the explosion of peak TV and new opportunities arising from the ever-changing media landscape, the goal is to provide the Native community more opportunities to be a part of the entertainment revolution and also provide a conduit for creative executives to locate talented Native American writers.

The Native Writers Room ultimately seeks to address the lack of genuine Native American representation in television writers’ rooms and in overall media. This project will create an opportunity for Native writers to confront this issue by arming them with new material and providing a unique space to create. This material will force a shift in how Natives are perceived by offering a genuine Native point of view on characters, story and identity.

About the Writers:

William Garroutte (Cherokee)

Garroutte is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He had an Army brat childhood and rural adolescence in a town famed for its cattle slaughterhouses. Garroutte didn’t go to college and taught himself to write in the WGA library. He is an alumni of the Skins Fest Native American TV Writing Lab, NBC’s Writers on the Verge program, and the ABC/Disney TV Writing Program. He is currently staffed on a forthcoming Showtime show.

Shelley Dennis (Choctaw)

Dennis has written for Disney’s “Tangled” TV show and toured alongside Wayne Brady, doing both standup and improv. She co-created and starred in an eight-episode VR comedy, “Sestra!Sestra!” now available on Oculus Rift and Oculus Go! She is currently staffed on a Netflix animated series.

Tom Hanada (Cherokee)

Hanada is a screenwriter and novelist who specializes in the thriller and horror genres. In 2017, he was brought on to adapt Stephen King’s short story “Morality” into a feature film screenplay. That same year, Hanada sold the pilot for his serial killer one-hour drama, “Psychopath,” to Astronauts Wanted. In 2016, Tom participated in the Universal Studios Emerging Writers Fellowship, and he completed the Native American TV Writers Lab. Hanada is represented by: Ethan Neale at Paradigm Talent Agency.

Doane Tulugaq Avery (Inupiaq)

Avery is a filmmaker whose stories focus on feminine, queer and Indigenous character-driven narratives that seek to blend cinematic realism with surreal and musical moments. She was the recipient of the LA Skins Fest Emerging Filmmaker Award and the imagineNATIVE Jane Glassco Award for Emerging Talent. Her short films have also screened at Outfest, Oaxaca Film Fest, Seattle Queer Film Festival, Māoriland, the Hamilton Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, and the Cinematheque in Winnipeg. Avery was selected as a fellow for the Sundance Institute + IAIA Native Writers Workshop in July 2015 and received an MFA in film directing from the California Institute of the Arts in 2016.