Participants selected for the inaugural Native American Showrunner Program

(Photo: Christian Joudrey, Unsplash)

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Native American Showrunner Program offers mentorship from television showrunners and series creators to experienced Native American writers

News Release

Barcid Foundation

The Barcid Foundation, a Native American arts organization, announces its selections for the inaugural Native American Showrunner Program, sponsored by Bad Robot, Comcast NBCUniversal and Walt Disney Television, in partnership with Kung Fu Monkey Productions, Sugarshack Animation, Crunchyroll and Owen Dennis.

“We are excited to launch a new and robust program that offers genuine opportunities for experienced Native American writers,” announced Patricia Gomes, Programs Director. “The goal is to provide fellows, who have been through our programs and have grown their careers, a new level of support from the entertainment industry.”

The Native American Showrunner Program is a nine-month intensive that offers mentorship from television showrunners and series creators to experienced Native American writers.

Program fellows take part in meetings with assigned showrunners who will offer guidance on furthering the fellows’ writing careers and to provide creative feedback on current projects. The program consists of weekly one-on-one mentoring to develop the writers’ abilities, offer advice as it pertains to producing for television and overall insight into running a television series.

The Native American Showrunner Program is a unique program designed to propel experienced Native American writers to higher levels of television. This initiative continues the Barcid Foundation’s drive for inclusion and focuses on new points of access for the Native American community. The fellowship is a direct extension of the Native American TV Writers Lab as it equips the next generation of Native American writers with the skills and professional network to break into the television producing positions.

Native American Showrunner Program graphic
(Image: Barcid Foundation)

The 2020 Native American Showrunner Program fellows:

Shelley Dennis (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)

From the farm to the catwalk, Shelley Dennis’ wide-range of experiences have helped her create multifaceted characters with unique points of view. Shelley was born into a family of Choctaw storytellers in small town Oklahoma. She fell in love with theatre and bringing compelling characters to life as early as elementary school - writing and directing her own plays. She took a brief time-out when she was scouted by a modeling agency and flown to Milan, where she made a living being tall and hungry. Shelley has written for Disney’s Tangled TV Show and toured alongside Wayne Brady, doing both standup and improv. She recently co-created and starred in an 8-episode VR comedy, Sestra Sestra!, now available on Oculus Rift and Oculus Go!

Siena East

Siena East is a writer, comedian, and actress based in Los Angeles. Siena studied Film and Television Production at New York University where she was selected to produce her first short film “Lycanphobic.” It screened at both the LA Skins Film Festival, where it was nominated in the Emerging Filmmaker category, and the NYU First Run Festival, where it won an award for Best Supporting Actress. Siena was a part of the prestigious 2018 Native American TV Writers lab. In 2019, she was showcased in the first all Native improv show at UCB. As a comedian, Siena was first featured in the Kibitz Room, where she won the audience choice award "The Best of the Bunch". She has performed at the Comedy Union, The Ruby, and has regularly performed at ACME NoHo. Currently, Siena is working as a Writer's Assistant, and is managed by Thuan Dang at the Gotham Group.

Anthony Florez (Paiute)

Anthony Florez is a writer/director who was born and raised in Reno, NV and is a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Northern Nevada. Before pursuing his creative passions, Anthony graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served for seven years on active duty for seven years as a Surface Warfare Officer. In 2018, Anthony was one of eight writers selected for the 21st Century Fox Writers Lab and was also awarded the Tisch School of Arts Dean’s Fellowship in television writing to study at New York University’s Graduate Dramatic Writing Program. His short documentary film “Generations” won 2nd place in the Audience Awards Native Doc Competition and was selected to over a dozen film festivals across the United States including LA SkinsFest, ImagiNATIVE (Canada), and the Portland Film Festival. Anthony was most recently a Staff Writer for the Fox show “Deputy.”

John Timothy (Muscogee/Creek)

John Timothy is a Los Angeles based writer for television. He was a participant in the 2019 LA Skins Fest Native American TV Writers Lab. He teaches and performs at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre where you can see him with his team, Megaplex. With his writing partner Patrick Mahoney, he co-wrote “The Third Party”, a mockumentary feature comedy about third party presidential candidates in the 2016 election. It was accepted into the 2017 New York Independent Film Festival and now lives on the internet someplace. 

The Native American Showrunner Program was created to expand the number of Native Americans working behind the camera to increase fair and accurate portrayals of Native Americans on television. Native Americans continue to maintain the lowest representation of writers on current television series.

The inaugural Native American Showrunner Program is sponsored by Bad Robot Productions, Comcast NBCUniversal and Walt Disney Television and in partnership with Kung Fu Monkey Productions, Sugarshack Animation, Crunchyroll and Owen Dennis.

For more information, visit

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(Image: Barcid Foundation)

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