Hollywood Showrunner Uses Storytelling As A Way To Bring Marginalized Voices To The Screen
Storytelling is more than a way to escape reality. It’s a form of communication, a way to express emotions, memories and ideas. Great stories connect with audiences and allow the viewer to enter the storyline where they’re at and imagine themselves within the concept. Hollywood is built on the ability to tell a compelling story. As the industry becomes more diverse and inclusive, more underrepresented voices are heard and portrayed.
Bisha K. Ali, Hollywood writer, producer and showrunner, is taking action to make certain opportunities are more readily available to those, who in the past, have been historically marginalized in the field. She partnered with Netflix, in association with Sky, to launch the Screenwriters’ Fellowship, a year-long paid program to support six U.K. outstanding screenwriters from racial and ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in the high-end television and film industry. The participants will be placed in a writers room of a Netflix or Sky series.
“The Fellowship is a small step towards creating a more inclusive industry and is my effort to help contribute to change,” she states. “The Fellowship came to be over a series of conversations between Anne Mensah, Sophie Klein and myself, in which I brought to them the issues I had faced trying to establish myself in the U.K. industry.”
Before working in Hollywood, Ali’s first job was at The Economist, workingas a data analyst. She then transitioned to a domestic violence frontline worker. However, her passion lay in storytelling. Having moved between three different countries as a child, she absorbed the various forms of storytelling from each culture. Stories weren’t just a form of entertainment; they were a chance to learn about communities and the past.
As she contemplated her next career move, Ali kept focusing on the storytelling aspect of a role. So she decided to give stand-up comedy a chance. “When I think about stand-up,” Ali explains, “is that it’s underpinned by storytelling. Stand-up is really a pure version of it because it’s a raw connection with your audience. You’re getting notes in real-time if something’s not landing or not making them laugh.”