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Valeska Rodriguez is a dramedy writer from Miami, Florida. Raised by a Chilean mother and Ecuadorian father, her upbringing was a fusion between US and South American cultures. Valeska moves easily between the two worlds, speaking English and Spanish, and sometimes both. Although she has an older brother and younger sister, she likes to believe she somehow managed to escape unscathed from middle child syndrome. At age 20, Valeska graduated from Florida International University with a double-major in Marketing and International Business. Before being accepted to the NHMC TV Writers Program, she was a writers’ assistant and script coordinator on NBC’s The Night Shift. Previously, she worked on USA’s Queen of the South as a writers’ PA.
Edward G. Excaliber
Edward G. Excaliber (indeed, his real last name) loves Star Wars, Mel Brooks movies and can sometimes be overly competitive at board games. He and his brothers grew up in Miami devouring sitcoms and cartoons on a half-hourly basis. A Puerto Rican-Italian comedy writer and director, Edward began his career writing for the stage. His first full length play was produced at his alma mater, Florida International University. Edward wrote and directed numerous plays and short films in Miami and was selected for a development workshop at The Playwright’s Center. In 2016, Edward graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory’s MFA Screenwriting program. There, he wrote two short films and developed two comedy features and a half-hour animated superhero pilot. Currently, Edward is developing comedy pilots tackling immigration, cultural identity, religion and the always funny: death. Edward lives in Los Angeles with his wife and cat. He is a story analyst for Austin Film Festival.
Lauren Otero is an LA native and the daughter of a Mexican Catholic judge and a Russian Jewish special ed teacher. She writes dark comedies that explore identity, race, gender, and the wildly rewarding experience of being a Costco member. Upon graduating from Stanford University with a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Sociology, Lauren got her start at CAA. She was later accepted into the Disney/ABC Writing Program, landing her first staffing job. Since then, Lauren has been staffed on both cable and network TV shows and has written for AwesomenessTV, go90, and Mitú. When she isn’t writing scripts or shopping in bulk, you can find her updating her comedic food blog for the lactose intolerant.
Beto Skubs is a comic book, film and TV writer originally from Brazil. He taught himself English to read Star Wars novels and screenplays, which led him into writing his first scripts. His screenplay “Fade Out: Painless Suicide” was adapted and published as an award winning graphic novel. He won a Fulbright Scholarship and got his MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA. Since then, he has sold a sci-fi pilot to Sony; written episodes for animated shows in Brazil and in the US; and co-created a live action series currently in production in Brazil. Working and spending time in two different countries gives him a unique perspective and world view, which he applies to his writing in the form of characters fighting against terrifying odds, looking for their place in family or society, and world building that feels similar to the experience of adapting to a whole new country and culture.
Efrain Colón is a comedy writer originally from Fayetteville, NC and wants to dedicate this year’s program to his Puerto Rican father who served in the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Desert Storm. Now in Los Angeles, Efrain currently works at Warner Bros. Studios and is a certified writer for Comedywire. As well, he performs on the main stage at The Improv Space and studies at the Groundlings Theatre where he is a multiple recipient of their Diversity Scholarship. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a Bachelor’s in Mass Communication and was active in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity. He is very proud to have been selected for this prestigious program and looks forward to representing his Puerto Rican and Native American (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina) heritage in Hollywood. He feels very fortunate for his opportunities and wants to use them to help other Hispanics and Natives enjoy a long career in this amazing industry. Ultimately, Efrain aspires to write and produce television and looks forward to participating in the 2017 NHMC TV Writers Program.
After being recruited for NBC’s The Voice (she has the email to prove it!) and debuting her TV career on the Amber Rose Show (S1E1), Ashley decided that BTS was more her jam. With 5 siblings, a mom with 16 siblings (you read that right), and a grandma with schizophrenia, Ashley’s got stories for days. A native of El Paso, Texas and a former high school teacher in Mississippi, she’s studied at iO West, has taken writing classes under Chris Reed (The Lion King) and Mike Ellis (The Wedding Planner), and is a graduate of Amherst College.
Originally from Monterrey, Nuevo León, Montserrat Luna is happy to continue her family’s tradition of playing bebeleche with the border, taking after her Welita (who emigrated from Monterrey to California as kid) and her mother (who emigrated from California back to Monterrey as a teen), technically making Montserrat a first generation Regiomontana, third generation American, and now a first generation migrant living in Los Angeles. Though she enjoyed her time working for the Mexican Consulate’s Department of Protection and Legal Affairs, and later a Catholic High School, Montserrat’s passion lies in putting her BA in Creative Writing (and student loan debt) from Pepperdine University to good use by cranking out features and TV shows. Whether it’s drama, dark comedy, horror, or children’s stories, Montserrat’s work always involves character-driven narratives focused on facing the monsters we fear the most, whether supernatural or human.
Esparza is a writer/actor from Sacramento, California. He moved to Los Angeles in 2009 where he began studying at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Jesse is a writer on the UCB veteran Maude team Bombardier. He wrote, directed, and produced “Tonya Harding The Musical”, which was featured on E! News Online, in an episode of Live From E! LAist, LA Weekly, and The New York Times. Jesse wrote, directed, and starred in the UCB show “CarteLOL”, which was also chosen for The Best Of Pilot Reading Showcase. Jesse was a writer for the 2015 CBS Diversity Showcase with his sketch “Helen Keller Party Girl”. His spec script was chosen as one of the best in the 2015 Staffing Survey. Jesse had a one line role on The CW’s Crazy Ex Girlfriend, which he still considers his best (and only) acting work to date.
Margaret Lebron is a comedy writer, improviser, and recovering academic from the Midwest. She grew up in Peoria, IL, the cultural and geographic halfway point between her father’s Puerto Rican-Italian upbringing on the West Side of Chicago and her mother’s German-American rural farm town roots. A devoted nerd, Margaret escaped back to the big city and hit the books, earning a BA in Theatre from the University of Chicago, an MA in Performance Studies from New York University, and a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. In between seminars and chapter drafts, however, she discovered the Chicago improv scene and began writing and performing comedy. For Margaret, writing sitcoms allows her to combine her critical and creative brains to tell stories about her beautiful blended family and the diverse community of artists and activists of which she is a proud member.
Jimmy Mosqueda is a lifelong California resident, the son of two Mexican immigrants, and a graduate of Stanford University. He was a participant in the 2016 Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Intensive, where he workshopped his high school dark comedy VALEDICTORIAN. The film is now in pre-production with a producer and director attached. Jimmy was also a 2016 Disney-ABC Writing Program finalist and a 2016-17 Film Independent Project Involve Writing Fellow. During his time as a fellow he wrote the short film THE STATION, which premiered at the 2017 LA Film Festival. His screenplays have placed in numerous contests, including as a finalist in the Austin Film Festival, Script Pipeline and TrackingB competitions, and as a semifinalist in the Nicholl Fellowship. Today, he lives in Los Angeles and writes full-time.
Geoff Harris, Program Mentor: Geoff was Vice President in charge of Story and Writer Development at NBC for twelve years. He now works as a free-lance writer/producer and teacher of TV-writing intensive workshops for and Latino and Native American writers sponsored by ABC and NBC. He has also taught Web Series Writing at Cal State University, Los Angeles, as well as classes in Story Analysis at the American Film Institute. In addition, he works as a judge in the ABC Writing Program and leads seminars for ABC fellows about television writing. While at NBC, Geoff helped in the development of primetime TV shows, including some of the most successful comedies, dramas, movies and mini–series in television history. Since then, he has developed scripts for many writers in TV and film, including some for his students who have gone on to staff positions on TV shows such as ABC’s Samantha Who? and NBC’s Medium, among others. With a Masters degree from Notre Dame University and a PhD (abd) from Columbia University, Geoff began working as a reporter for the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner daily newspaper. Afterwards, he became a creative executive in television. Geoff currently lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his wife, Melissa, and their two children.