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2 South Asian Americans Among 5 to Receive Black List and Google Assistant Storytelling Fellowship

2 South Asian Americans Among 5 to Receive Black List and Google Assistant Storytelling Fellowship

  • Anna Khaja and Urvashi Pathania will work with mentors to develop original content.

Urvashi Pathania and Anna Khaja are among five fellows chosen for the 2020-21 Black List and Google Assistant Storytelling Fellowship. The program provides financial and creative support to writers in the development and execution of a new original feature film script or TV pilot under the condition that the project tells a contemporary story from the perspective of historically underrepresented communities. 

Each of the five scribes will be awarded $20,000 with the purpose of supporting themselves for six months during their creative process. During that time, the Black List and Google Assistant will pair each fellowship recipient with a screenwriting mentor.

Urvashi Pathania, who immigrated from Mumbai to Princeton, New Jersey in middle school,  began creating films in her video production classes as a way to connect with classmates and share her experiences about being an immigrant. The films she makes are for her parents and immigrant parents everywhere – to show their stories matter. 

She received a Bachelors in Film Studies from Columbia University. Upon graduation, she worked on the sets of feature films and made a documentary series examining LGBTQ South Asians living in America. 

After receiving an M.F.A. in Film Production from USC, she wrote and directed the short film, “Unmothered,” about an Indian American woman who travels to India to immerse her mother’s ashes in holy water. It has screened at multiple Oscar-qualifying film festivals. Pathania is currently a writing fellow in Lena Waithe’s inaugural mentorship lab.

Anna Khaja, daughter of a Pakistani immigrant and clinical psychologist, has made it her mission to depict Muslim women how they are seldom seen on screen — as complex, driven individuals with their own individual strengths and flaws. Khaja garnered numerous TV and film roles early in her career, the majority of which had her portray stereotypical representations of one quarter of the world’s population. Rather than continuing to portray those roles, Khaja has honed in on writing her own stories about nuanced Muslim females who ultimately define themselves. 

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Her play “Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto,” about the Pakistani prime minister enjoyed an acclaimed and extended Off-Broadway run in New York, as per ImDb profile.TimeOut called her performance “a wonder,: The New York Times praised her as a “gifted actress” and Backstage said the play was “heart-stopping, engrossing, funny, and profound theater.”  

She has recurring roles on “The Good Place,” “Silicon Valley,” “FBI,” “For the People” (Shondaland), “Madam Secretary” and “Lethal Weapon.” In 2015, she booked the role of Sita Parrish on “Quantico.” She also stars in the John Legend music video “Surefire” about borderless love, which won the 2017 MTV Music Award for ‘Best Music Video with a Message.’  Khaja lives in Los Angeles with her husband, screenwriter Chris Rossi. 

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