LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today Reese’s Book Club announced its inaugural class of LitUp fellows – their writer’s program for unpublished, unrepresented women. LitUp is powered by The Readership, the club’s collection of efforts advancing literacy.
The first Reese’s Book Club LitUp fellows are:
- Sophia Chang graduated from Harvard at twenty, became a film + TV actor, and the world’s first iPod silhouette model. Her plays and solo shows have been performed on both coasts. She believes in the necessity of stories to move, enlighten, and entertain! A former aerial dancer disabled by antiMOG, Sophia is a native New Yorker currently based in Los Angeles.
- Chatham Greenfield is a writer, disability justice advocate, and Floridian lesbian. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 2020, they worked for a year as the Community Relations Manager for a local disability advocacy nonprofit. They currently do freelance writing/editing work and spend their free time reading and writing gay novels.
- Jaya Mehta was a Mirrielees Scholar in the Stanford Creative Writing Program, before receiving her Ph.D. from Yale University in English literature. She was a professor for ten years at Vanderbilt and Butler Universities. She has written two YA novels and co-written two picture books. She also writes stories for educational publishing companies.
- Katerina Ivanov Prado received her Master's in Fine Arts from University of Arizona and currently teaches writing in Tucson. Her work has appeared in Brevity, The Rumpus, The Florida Review, and others. She has received the John Weston Award for Fiction, the 2019 AWP Intro Journals Award, The Pinch Nonfiction Literary Award, the Florida Review’s Editors' Award, and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
- Gina Isabel Rodriguez is a writer and daughter of Chilean immigrants. Born and raised in New Jersey, she received her MFA from NYU. She has been a VONA workshop participant and a juried fellow at the Saltonstall Arts Colony. She now lives and writes in Massachusetts.
- Arriel Vinson is a Tin House YA Scholar who writes about being young, Black, and in search of freedom. Her work has appeared in Kweli Journal, The Rumpus, Catapult, and others. She is also a Walter Grant recipient, Kimbilio Fellow, and Voyage Summer 2021 First Chapters Contest semifinalist.
These 6 Fellows were selected from over 800 submissions and went through an anti-bias, multiple round screening process led by Hello Sunshine partner We Need Diverse Books. LitUp is made possible by corporate partners Google and Buick.
“Creating real change for underrepresented women and shining a light on new storytellers is exactly why I started Hello Sunshine and Reese’s Book Club. I was overjoyed with the range and quality of the submissions received, so choosing our fellows was an incredibly difficult task. But we couldn’t be more excited to amplify these bright new voices now and in the years to come,” said Reese Witherspoon, founder of Hello Sunshine.
Each LitUp Fellow will be paired with a Reese’s Book Club author who will serve as their mentor for the next three months to further develop their manuscript. The Fellows and Mentors will attend an all-expense paid writer’s retreat together taking place in Nashville, Tennessee in February of 2022. At the Retreat, the group will enjoy first-class transportation and an opening night dinner, both hosted by Buick. After the Mentorship Program & Retreat, Fellows will have a first-look window with top agents in the publishing industry. Additionally, each Fellow will also receive the LitUp Writers Grant of $2,500, from Google.
“From adult-literary to young adult novels in verse, the breadth and talent of the submissions really blew us away,” said Gretchen Schreiber, Manager of Books at Hello Sunshine. “We couldn’t be more excited to continue foster their tremendous talent through our retreat and mentorship programs and ultimately bring their manuscripts to the publishing community.”
LitUp is made possible by corporate partners Google and Buick. These mission-aligned organizations help to fund the fellowship and offer ongoing support to the program.
“We’re honored to have created The LitUp Writers Grant to support writers from underrepresented communities and help bring their meaningful stories to life,” said Elle Roth-Brunet, Google’s Entertainment Partnerships Lead. “Now more than ever, audiences are vocal in their desire for diverse stories from diverse storytellers. New voices and perspectives matter. LitUp is perfectly aligned with Google’s commitment to empower multicultural creators and we look forward to reading and celebrating the published work of our inaugural fellows”
Based on the great response LitUp received in its inaugural year, Reese’s Book Club and LitUp’s operational partners - We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and Madcap Retreats - are pleased to announce that LitUp will launch the second cycle of its fellowship program and submissions in late Spring of 2022. Additional information is available at diversebooks.org.
About Hello Sunshine
Founded by Reese Witherspoon, Hello Sunshine is a media company that puts women at the center of every story it creates, celebrates and discovers. Hello Sunshine tells stories across all platforms – from scripted and unscripted television, feature films, animated series, podcasts, audio storytelling, and digital series – all shining a light on where women are now and helping them chart a new path forward. Hello Sunshine is also home to Reese’s Book Club. Fast growing in reach and influence, this community is propelled by meaningful connections with stories, authors and fellow members. Reese’s Book Club sparks conversation–online and in real life- with many of its bestselling picks developed and produced for the screen by Hello Sunshine.