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Margaret Rose Lester, Steve Martinez and Chandus Jackson

Talent Talent

Writers Program 2019-20

Derek Asaff

Originally from Boston, MA, Derek Asaff’s true love is writing though he studied business at Cornell University.  Having zero affinity for accounting or microeconomics, Derek found himself on academic probation and was later expelled. Directionless, Derek spent the next few years working several various odd jobs – waiter, bellman, and pig ear sorter at a dog food factory.   It was when Derek was laid off from his job at a bank, that he took it as a sign to finally bet on himself.  He got accepted into Harvard University studying Creative Writing and Literature. After graduation, Derek then moved to Los Angeles to earn his Master’s Degree in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute Conservatory. Today, Derek uses his experiences to write action comedy and genre about redemption and comeback stories in which the protagonist discovers their inner hero. His writing has placed him in Tracking Board’s Young and Hungry List and his award-winning action/comedy script The Wheelman about a down-on-his-luck driving instructor who is reluctantly recruited into the high-speed world of getaway driving for a group of elite thieves, was optioned during an AFI’s Screenwriters Showcase.  Derek lives in Glendale with his wife and two rescue chihuahuas.

Sarah Cho

A native of Los Angeles, Sarah Cho's numerous jobs in the entertainment industry such as a segment producer for a late-night talk show and music video editor have not only helped pay the bills, but informed her writing’s visceral quality. Though her work skews towards what she calls “impossible pain”, she ultimately views them as “happy” stories because her flawed protagonists are still able to rise against overwhelming odds to save the day.  Additionally, she likes to explore complex themes and characters that exist in a world of grey, or are often in limbo and working their way through. Sarah’s work has received much recognition, most recently with her short Color-Blind, which premiered at the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and won her the AWC Directing Fellowship from Visual Communications.  She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Creative Writing and Asian-American Studies and has worked as an activist for Asian Pacific Islander non-profits and minority coalitions.    

Nicolas Delgado de la Camara

Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Nicolas “Nick” Delgado de la Camara spent most of his childhood making movies with his friends after seeing Jurassic Park for the very first time.  This life-altering moment inspired Nick to follow the path of his filmmaking heroes and enrolled in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.  While there, Nick was mentored by one of his idols, director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) and graduated with a Master’s degree in Film Production. Nick’s thesis film, The Macabre World of Lavender Williams, about the fantastical adventures of a brave little girl searching for her father with the help of a zombie dog, featured Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) and John Lithgow (The Crown).  The film screened in over 40 film festivals worldwide including the Valencia International Film Festival - Cinema Jove and the LA Shorts International Film Festival. Nick’s unbridled imagination coupled with his deep love for family are the spark and fuel to his storytelling.  As a fantasist and world-builder, Nick’s goals are to write and direct big, mainstream genre movies about characters and families trying to hold together in larger-than-life worlds.

Harsha Rao

Raised in the Chicago suburbs of Schaumburg, IL, Harsha’s career began by enlisting as a Private in the US Army shortly after the September 11 attacks and later deploying to Iraq as a Captain.   After his time in the military, Harsha worked as a lawyer, business strategist, and Silicon Valley tech guy for various Fortune 500 companies. Drawing on his multi-faceted background and experience in “rallying the troops,” Harsha likes to write comedy and action stories often revolving around a crew of people dealing with bizarre, yet relatable, situations. His writing has earned him a fellowship in the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project. He has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois, a JD from Georgetown University, and an MBA from Wharton.

Andrew Ruiz

A native of Hampton, NJ, Andrew Ruiz is a filmmaker, educator, and self-proclaimed "spinner of yarns." As a filmmaker, Andrew’s short films have screened around the world, most notably at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Kids, the Hamptons International Film Festival, and the Ajyal Youth Festival in Doha, Qatar. Possessing a fascination for absurd true stories, Andrew’s writing is focused on often comedic but always stranger than fiction tales. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Andrew worked primarily in education and public service. While   enrolled at Columbia University, Andrew helped create Project FOCUS, a six-week film “boot camp” for inner-city high school students.  He’s taught at the Ghetto Film School, The Cinema School of the Bronx, and the Harlem Children’s Zone, and has served on the faculty of Barnard College and Mount Saint Mary’s University. Andrew received his MFA in Film from Columbia University.

Nandita Seshadri

Nandita Seshadri was born and raised in Fremont, California where she spent her formative years feeling a little out of place or in her words, “a monster in a human suit.”  She found she felt her most natural self with a pen in her hand, scribbling stories of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, where anyone can be anything. Nandita’s obsession with these genres led her to a deep love of movies, and eventually to film school at Northwestern University. After graduating with a degree in Radio/Television/Film, Nandita went on to hone her storytelling skills first as a writer's assistant for Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and Matthew Weiner (Mad Men), then at Lionsgate Entertainment in feature film development/production, animated television, and mobile games. Now settled in Los Angeles, Nandita continues to write coming-of-age stories from unexpected points of view, humanizing the monsters we're taught to fear.