AMC Networks Athena Emerging Writers Fellowship


Inaugural Grant “AMC Networks Athena Emerging Writers Fellowship” Will Provide $10,000  to An Up-And-Coming Writer Working on a Woman-Centered TV Project

NEW YORK (March 28, 2024) As part of its mission to support filmmakers working on women-centered projects, The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College (AFF), a joint program of Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership and the initiative Women and Hollywood, announced today a new partnership with AMC Networks to launch the “AMC Networks Athena Emerging Writers Fellowship.” 

The “AMC Networks Athena Emerging Writers Fellowship” will award a $10,000 grant to a writer working on a woman-centered television project in the Athena Film Festival Writers Lab, along with a writers’ room experience at AMC Networks on an upcoming series. 

“This year’s National Women’s History Month’s theme celebrates those who have committed their lives to building a more inclusive future by eliminating barriers to opportunity and access in our industries and institutions,” said Naila McKenzie, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at AMC Networks.  “It’s in this spirit that we are proud to partner with the Athena Film Festival in creating pathways for emerging creatives to refine their craft through meaningful connections and experiences, while amplifying women-centered narratives.”

This fellowship is the newest addition to AFF’s Creative Development Program, which awards more than $100,000 to underrepresented filmmakers every year. In addition to direct funding opportunities, AFF’s Creative Development Program provides storytellers working on with women-centered projects with skill-building opportunities, and a strong, supportive network to help them hone their craft and make meaningful connections to help them succeed and advance their projects. 

“This partnership with AMC Networks is an exciting new step for Athena’s Creative Development Program. Previously, we have never had direct funding go to a television writer in one of our programs. This fellowship will not only provide funding, but an excellent opportunity for this writer to experience the industry in a way they have not been able to before. We are thrilled to continue awarding fellowships to writers who have traditionally been excluded from industry opportunities and who are working on projects centering women’s leadership” said Melissa Silverstein, co-founder and Artistic Director of AFF and founder of Women and Hollywood.

Submissions for the Athena Film Festival Writers Lab will open in June of 2024. To learn more about our AFF Writers Lab and Athena’s Creative Development Program, visit The fellow will be selected and announced in the fall. 


AMC Networks (Nasdaq: AMCX) is home to many of the greatest stories and characters in TV and film and the premier destination for passionate and engaged fan communities around the world. The company creates and curates celebrated series and films across distinct brands and makes them available to audiences everywhere. Its portfolio includes targeted streaming services AMC+, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, ALLBLK and HIDIVE; cable networks AMC, BBC AMERICA (operated through a joint venture with BBC Studios, which includes U.S. distribution and sales responsibilities for BBC News), IFC, SundanceTV and WE tv; and film distribution labels IFC Films and RLJE Films. The company also operates AMC Studios, its in-house studio, production and distribution operation behind acclaimed and fan-favorite originals including The Walking Dead Universe and the Anne Rice Immortal Universe; and AMC Networks International, its international programming business. 

Founded in 2011, the Athena Film Festival champions diverse, nuanced, and complex stories of women leaders through its annual showcase of narrative films, documentaries, and short films, alongside powerful and thought-provoking conversations, and its numerous year-round creative development programs. To date, more than 540 films have been screened at the festival — 90% directed by women or nonbinary individuals — and Athena’s creative development programs have supported more than 700 filmmakers. 

The Athena Center for Leadership is a hub for changemakers at Barnard College. We prepare Barnard students to lead change in this extraordinary moment and throughout their lives. 

Women and Hollywood educates, advocates, and agitates for gender parity and inclusion across the entertainment industry. Over the past 16 years, it has grown to be one of the most respected initiatives focused on women’s issues and popular culture, and its founder, Melissa Silverstein, has become a well-respected leader on the subject.

Barnard provides a singular educational experience, as a world-renowned college focused on excellence across the arts and sciences, with all the academic resources of Columbia University and the City of New York as an extended classroom. Founded in 1889, Barnard was one of the few colleges in the nation where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, Barnard is one of the most selective academic institutions in the country and remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional.

Artemis Rising Foundation is dedicated to supporting media projects that transform our culture and challenge the status quo. Led by our founder and CEO, Regina K. Scully, the foundation champions powerful stories about some of the most challenging social justice issues of our time — including gender bias, healing, trauma, mental health, addiction, and women’s empowerment. The Artemis Rising Foundation is the founding sponsor of the Athena Film Festival.