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Advisory Board

The goal of the MFA Writing for Screen+Stage Advisory Board is to provide students with advice and mentorship from industry professionals as they prepare for careers in the entertainment industry. We thank our board members for their participation and generosity.

Melanie Marnich is an award-winning television writer-producer and playwright. She has written for Big Love on HBO; Showtime’s The Big C and The Affair (as co-executive producer); and for AMC’s Low Winter Sun. She also served as co-executive producer on The OA for Netflix. Her episode, “Come, Ye Saints” for Big Love earned her a Writers’ Guild award nomination for Best Drama Episode. It was also named Best Television Episode of 2009 by Entertainment Weekly and ranked in TV Guide’s 100 Best Episodes of All Time. She received a Golden Globe for her work on The Affair. She has developed work with Amazon, HBO, AMC, Amblin, Scott Free and TNT. Her plays have been produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Kennedy Center, Dallas Theater Center, Baltimore Center Stage, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and The Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival. She is a member of The Playwrights’ Center and an alum of New Dramatists.

Chico Mattoso is the author of two novels, Far from Ramiro (2007) and Never goes away (2011). In 2012 he was selected as one of the “Best Young Brazilian Writers” by the British magazine Granta. In 2018, he co-created the TV series First Time Parents (Globo TV), and in 2019, he was the head writer and co-creator of Joint Venture / Pico da Neblina, which is currently on HBO Max. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage program.

Carrie Barrett’s plays have been developed at The National Playwrights Conference at The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Humanitas LA, Kitchen Dog Theatre (Dallas) and produced in Los Angeles, Chicago, Omaha and Cape Cod. Luxury, the three-part series she wrote with her writing partner, was produced by Abso Lutley Productions for Adult Swim’s Smalls and their ten-episode short-form series Chowder is currently being produced for the FX show, Cake.  As an actor, she has appeared in over 40 national commercials, on various TV shows and can regularly be seen playing the daffy news anchor, Mary Gaperman, on Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger and its spin-off, Danger Force. All this (and more!) while trying to break a phone addiction!

Kirsten Fitzgerald is a Chicago based Actor and the Artistic Director at A Red Orchid Theatre.  In recent years she has originated roles in the world premieres of Traitor and Pilgrim’s Progress by Brett Neveu and Grey House by levi Holloway (AROT), Lettie by Boo Kilebrew and Appropriate by Brandon Jacob Jenkins (Victory Gardens Theatre) as well as Tracy Letts’ Mary Page Marlow and Bruce Norris’ The Qualms (Steppenwolf Theatre) among others.  Recent Goodman Theatre credits include ROE and SWEAT.  On Television Kirsten played Maria Walters in The Exorcist (FOX) and Mac in Sirens (USA), both for two seasons.  Other TV appearances include Proven Innocent (FOX), Chicago Med (NBC), Chicago Justice (NBC), Chicago Fire (NBC), Underemployed (FOX) and ER (NBC).  Film credits include Widows (Steve McQueen), Killing Eleanor (Rich Newy & Annica Marks) and Working Man (Robert Jury). As Artistic Director at A Red Orchid she has fostered world premiere productions by Brett Neveu (TraitorPilgrim’s ProgressThe OpponentMegacosm), Levi Holloway (Grey HouseThe Haven Place), and Craig Wright (Mistakes Were MadeThe Iliad) alongside numerous regional premieres and reimagining’s of rarely seen gems.  Kirsten attended The University of Kansas-BA and received her MFA in acting from The University of Iowa.

Ethan Kass is a Los Angeles-based playwright and television writer. After spending much of his twenties working on Wall Street in the hedge fund business, Ethan made a drastic career change and began writing. He was a 2013 Pony nominee at the Lark Play Development Center and his play, Square Peg Round Hole, was a 2012 O’Neill National Playwrights semi-finalist. Fat, a dramedy that examines obesity, was a 2013 semi-finalist for the Juilliard Lila Acheson Wallace Fellowship, a 2013 Bay Area Playwrights semi-finalist and is currently being developed as a TV pilot with MX Productions. Ethan was most recently on staff of Murder in the First on TNT and is represented by CAA and LBI Entertainment.

Kendall Sherwood is an LA-based playwright and TV writer who is currently developing projects with Warner Bros, Oprah Winfrey Network, Westbrook Studios, and Hoodlum Entertainment. Her past credits include Co-Executive Producer on CBS’S HAWAII FIVE-0, and Supervising Producer on CBS’s THE CODE and TNT’s MAJOR CRIMES. Kendall is also an accomplished playwright. Produced plays include Devil May Care, The Record Breakers, Wade and Women, and This Side Up. Honors include Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference (two-time finalist), WordBRIDGE Playwright’s Laboratory (two-time selected playwright), The Athena Project (featured playwright), Sanguine Theatre Company’s Project Playwright (finalist), and Horizon Theatre’s New South Young Playwrights Festival (honoree). She received a BA in Theatre from Clemson University and an MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage at Northwestern University, where she taught Foundations of Screenwriting in the Radio/TV/Film department.

Jen Spyra has worked in nearly every kind of comedy there is: penning stories for The Onion, writing sketches and one-liners as a staff writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, contributing pieces to The New Yorker and McSweeney’s, and taking the stage for improv at UCB Theatre in Manhattan. Her book, Big Time, was released by Penguin Random House in 2021 to wide critical acclaim.  She holds an MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage from Northwestern.

Farhan Arshad is a comedy writer who currently writes for CBS’ Man with a Plan starring Matt LeBlanc. He also has written for Dr. Ken and Kirby Buckets, and is a graduate from the prestigious Disney Storyteller’s program where he sold an original pilot to the Disney Channel. Farhan graduated from Northwestern University with a MFA in Screenwriting. At Northwestern, he was one of five writers selected to participate in Comedy Central’s Rocktern program, which was founded by Chris Rock. Farhan also holds a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing and Political Science from Emory University.

Neal Dandade is a racially ambiguous actor, writer, and improviser based in Los Angeles. Television credits include Sirens (USA), Kevin from Work (ABC Family), and Shrink (Seeso) in addition to regional and national commercials. Neal was featured as a writer/performer in the 2016 CBS Diversity Showcase and holds an MFA in Writing for Screen and Stage from Northwestern University, where he was also worked as an Adjunct Lecturer. Neal was a writing intern at The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as part of the Chris Rock Summer internship and attended the School at Steppenwolf. While in Chicago, Neal was a member of the Second City National Touring Company and created online content for The Second City Network.

Gabrielle Fulton is an award-winning filmmaker and playwright born in Athens, Georgia, and raised in Atlanta. She received her BA from Columbia University, and her MFA in Writing for the Screen & Stage from Northwestern University. Gabrielle is currently Visiting Professor of Screenwriting at Kennesaw State University. Her short film Ir/Reconcilable received a broadcast deal from HBO and was awarded official selection status at both the American Black Film Festival in New York City and the Atlanta Film Festival. Among other works, Gabrielle also directed the documentary short If We So Choose, about the 1964 public accommodations protests to integrate The Varsity restaurant in Athens, GA. Her play Uprising was a Rolling World Premiere with productions in Atlanta, GA and Alexandria, VA. Photo by Roni Nicole

Sarah Gubbins is the co-creator, writer and executive producer of the Amazon comedy series I Love Dick, directed and produced by co-creator Jill Soloway. Also a Chicago playwright, Sarah’s plays include: The Kid Thing, Cocked, fml: How Carson McCullers’s Saved My Life, and The Drinking Problem. Her plays have been developed at various theaters including the Steppenwolf, the Public Theater, and Victory Gardens amongst many others. In 2012 Sarah was named, Best Playwright of 2012 by Chicago Magazine. Her play The Kid Thing won a Chicago Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play that same year. Sarah is currently co-writing a movie 10 Aker Wood with Jill Soloway, which Jill will direct. Photo by Elisabeth Caren

Brad Krevoy has produced, acquired, and distributed over 100 motion picture and television projects over the past 30 years, generating more than $1 billion in worldwide revenue. His blockbuster comedy Dumb and Dumber, starring Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels, grossed over $200 million worldwide. The heart-warming true story Taking Chance, starring Kevin Bacon, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was the most watched HBO original film in over five years at the time of its airing. Taking Chance won a number of awards including an Emmy, Golden Globe, DGA, SAG, WGA and Humanitas Awards for acting, directing, writing and producing. Brad Krevoy co-founded the Motion Picture Corporation of America (MPCA) and helped MPCA become the industry hit maker for moderately budgeted comedies that generated strong box office and critical acclaim, ranging from the comedy classic Kingpin, starring Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray, to Jungle to Jungle, starring Tim Allen. Prior to co-founding MPCA in 1987, Krevoy served as President of Roger Corman’s Concorde Pictures, which was one of the leading independent production and distribution companies. Mr. Krevoy remains active with several entertainment industry and charitable Boards of Directors, including IFTA, which runs the American Film Market and represents motion picture sales and distribution companies around the world.

Jill Leiderman became Executive Producer of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! in April 2006. Over the course of her fourteen years at the show, it grew exponentially into its current 10:35pm CST/1135 pm ET time slot as of January 2013. Jill worked with Jimmy and the JKL team to deliver close to 2,500 episodes and received multiple Emmy nominations. Leiderman learned late-night comedy during her nine-year tenure producing for CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman. She devotes time to many charitable efforts, serving as a board member of organizations such as OneKid OneWorld, Fresh StART, Northwestern University National Advisory Council and loves mentoring students. She is married to comedy director/writer Robert Cohen, (a Canadian who enjoys maple syrup on his eggs), and is mother to their 5 year old son, Rocket.

David Levine is the Chief Creative Officer of Anonymous Content, a full service global studio and representation company. There he shepherds the development and production of all film and television content. Before that he was the Co-Head of Drama, HBO Programming, for Home Box Office, responsible for overseeing the development and production of original drama series. He was named to this position in June 2016 where he oversaw. Jean-Marc Vallee and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, JJ Abrams/Jonah Nolan’s Westworld, the Emmy®-winning True Detective, Cinemax’s Peabody Award®-winning The Knick, and oversaw Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning Game of Thrones as well as Emmy® and Golden Globe® winner True Blood. Before HBO, he was vice president of Development and Production at Mandalay Entertainment, and served as a producer at Fuse Entertainment where he developed and co-produced the pilot for USA’s smash hit Burn Notice. He previously also had stints as an executive in features at Zucker/Netter Productions, Out of the Blue Entertainment, Conrad Pictures, and Cinergi Entertainment. Levine holds a B.S. in Radio/Television/Film from Northwestern University.

Sofya Levitsky-Weitz has written for Hulu’s THE DROPOUT, FX’s THE BEAR, and GASLIT for Starz. Her play this party sucks will be produced by Mark Gordon Pictures next year and was on the 2019 Kilroy’s List. Other plays include Cannabis Passover (PWC PlayLabs, 2020-2021 finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference), be mean to me (semi-finalist for Premiere Stages at Keane), Gehinnom (semi-finalist for O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference, Playwrights’ Realm, and Princess Grace Award), and Intuitive Men (UCF Pegasus Playlab). She was a 2018-2019 Jerome Fellow and is a current Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. Residencies with the MacDowell Colony, Barn Arts, and TOFTE. She served as the script consultant for Michael Showalter for Fox Searchlight’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye and is the 2020-2021 New Musical Commission Recipient for Penn State. She got her MFA in writing from the Screen & Stage from Northwestern University, where she serves on the Advisory Board, and is a member of EST/Youngblood.

John Logan received the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critic Circle and Drama League awards for his play Red. This play premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in London and at the Golden Theatre on Broadway. Since then Red has had more than 200 productions across the US and has been presented in over 30 countries. In 2013, his play Peter and Alice premiered in London and I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers opened on Broadway. He also co-wrote the book for the musical The Last Ship and is the author of more than a dozen other plays including Never the Sinner and Hauptmann. As a screenwriter, Logan has been three times nominated for the Oscar and has received a Golden Globe, BAFTA, WGA, and PEN Center award. His film work includes Skyfall, Spectre, Hugo, The Aviator, Gladiator, Rango, Genius, Coriolanus, Sweeney Todd, The Last Samurai, Any Given Sunday and RKO 281. He also created and produced the television series Penny Dreadful for Showtime.

Margaret Nagle is an award-winning film and television writer and producer. Nagle’s very first script, HBO’s Warm Springs, received a record-breaking 16 Emmy nominations and won five Emmys in 2005, including Best Television Movie.  The film is about FDR and his journey from paraplegic to President. Nagle won the 2006 Writers Guild of America Award for Long Form Original Screenplay and was nominated for the Humanitas, PEN and Emmy Award. Nagle received a 2011 Writer’s Guild Award for her work on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best TV series as well as being Emmy nominated. Nagle’s screenplay for the 2014 film The Good Lie, a film about the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, received the 2015 Paul Selvin Award from the Writer’s Guild of America. Nagle’s strong commitment to human rights and the recognition of the rights of children is evident in all the projects she pursues. She is a proud board member of United Cerebral Palsy of Southern California, and has also been raising money for humanitarian aid and awareness about the worldwide refugee crisis.

Bruce Ostler has been the President of Bret Adams Ltd. Artist’s Agency for more than 20 years. Additionally, Bruce is the co-owner of Rosenstone/Adams LLC, and is the Vice President of The Bret Adams & Paul Reisch Foundation. Prior to his time with Bret Adams, Bruce was a founding member and Resident Director of Practical Theatre, Produced Babalooney Off-Broadway, and has held various positions at Playwrights Horizons, Jewish Rep, Bayley Silleck Productions, Fred Nathan Press Office, Arthur Cantor Producer, BAM, and the Fifi Oscard Agency. Bruce Graduated from Northwestern University in 1979. Bruce’s clients over the years have included:  Mary Zimmerman, Keith Glover, Marion McClinton, Stephen Wadsworth, Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Melanie Marnich, Allan Knee, Randy Myler, Gina Gionfriddo, Quiara Alegria Hudes, Austin Pendleton, Jason Robert Brown, and many wonderful others.

Alexis Williams is the Associate Artistic Director of The Playwrights Realm in NY. Previously, she was an agent with Bret Adams Artists’ Agency where she represented playwrights, directors, composers, designers and choreographers. Before joining the Bret Adams Team, Alexis worked at McCarter Theatre Center, Contemporary Stage Company, and served as Literary Manager for Detroit’s Planet Ant Theatre. In her time in the theatre she has worked as a director, a producer, a dramaturg, a teaching artist, and has assumed multiple other roles in the industry. She has appeared on panels for the National New Play Network, the League Of Professional Theatre Women, the NUEA, and the Musical Theatre Factory; has conducted roundtable discussions with the New School for Drama, InterAct’s Core Writer’s Group and Paragraph NY. In Fall of 2017 Alexis was named one of the Interval’s “Women To Watch”. Alexis is on the advisory board of SPACE on Ryder Farm, is an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Aurin Squire is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and reporter. He is currently in an Overall Deal at CBS TVS and a co-executive producer on EVIL and THE GOOD FIGHT. He was previously staffed on THIS IS US and BRAINDEAD. On the feature side, Aurin is currently writing an UNT. REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS project for Amazon, Epic Magazine and Scott Free based on the article “Could an Ex-Convict Become an Attorney? I Intended to Find Out” by RDB. Zetna Fuentes is attached to direct.  Aurin is a two-time recipient of the 2014 Lecomte du Nouy Prize from Lincoln Center and a graduate of The Juilliard School and its Lila Acheson Wallace Playwright Fellowship. He is a New Dramatists playwriting fellow  and won the Helen Merrill Prize for Emerging Playwrights, as well as the Emerald Prize from Seattle Public Theatre. Past fellowships include The Dramatists Guild of America, National Black Theatre, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Ars Nova Writers Group, and the Royal Court Theatre’s US Writers’ Residency in London. Aurin wrote the book for A WONDERFUL WORLD, the Louis Armstrong musical which recently opened at Miami New Drama.