Each semester begins with a week-long residency on Emerson’s Boston or Los Angeles campus where you will meet faculty, collaborate with peers, and participate in a Master Class taught by our Semel Chair - an award-winning film or television screenwriter.
During the residency week, you will engage in Master Classes, seminars, intensive workshops, and peer group workshops. Evening sessions include screenings, guest lectures, and staged readings from student work. Seminars, lectures, and workshops will reflect residency themes.
You will meet with advisors to form the work plan for the semester. Before each residency ends, you will have clear deadlines for the semester’s creative work, reading and viewing lists, and a schedule for all online meetings.
Semel Chair & Guest Lectures
Emerson’s MFA in Writing Film and Television brings award-winning film and television writers to its Boston and Los Angeles campuses during your week-long in-person residency at the beginning of each semester.
The Semel Chair in Screenwriting is a working screenwriter who will conduct Master Classes during the residency, meet with students, and lead an evening screening and discussion of the speaker's work. Semel Chairs rotate each semester and are announced several weeks before the semester begins. Other guest lecturers include managers, agents, and more.
Previous Semel Chairs
- Adele Lim, 2022 Semel Chair
Adele Lim is a screenwriter whose credits include Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros) and Oscar-nominated Raya and the Last Dragon (Disney Animation Studios). A Malaysian native of Chinese descent, she came to the States at 19 and graduated from Emerson College, Boston. She has written and produced primetime TV dramas, including One Tree Hill (The CW), Private Practice (ABC), and Lethal Weapon (FOX), and was the co-showrunner and Executive Producer of Starcrossed (The CW). She mentors emerging writers through the WGA (Writers Guild of America) and CAPE (Coalition of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in Entertainment) to promote equity and representation in entertainment. In the fall of 2021, she made her directorial debut with an untitled feature film for Lionsgate Films and Point Grey productions.
- Mara Brock Akil, 2021 Semel Chair
Mara Brock Akil is an award-winning television Writer and Producer. Her works include The CW’s Black Lightning, BET’s first drama series Being Mary Jane, and more. After creating and producing the television series, Girlfriends, for eight seasons, she went on to create its spin-off series The Game, which produced 25 award nominations and 5 wins over its 9-year history.
- David Magee, 2020 Semel Chair
David Magee is an award-winning screenwriter known for his movie scripts for films such as Finding Neverland, Life of Pi, Mary Poppins Returns, and his upcoming film The Little Mermaid. He’s an Academy Award nominee for his Finding Neverland and Life of Pi scripts and a Satellite Award winner for Life of Pi.
- Cheo Hodari Coker, 2020 Semel Chair
Cheo Hodari Coker is a Writer and Producer. He was the Creator and Showrunner of the Emmy-Award-winning show Luke Cage. Other television works include NCIS: Los Angeles, Almost Human, Ray Donovan, and more. He was the screenwriter for the 2009 biographical film, Notorious based on the life of The Notorious B.I.G.
- Krista Vernoff, 2019 Semel Chair
Krista Vernoff is a Writer and Executive Producer for hit shows such as ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Showtime’s Shameless. She’s been nominated for and won numerous awards including a Golden Globe for Best New Television Series, a Writer’s Guild of America Award, and two Emmys for her work on Grey’s Anatomy.
- Dustin Lance Black, 2019 Semel Chair
Dustin Lance Black is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter and social activist. Black won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Milk and two Writers Guild of America (WGA) awards. His other works include writing the screenplays for Virginia and J. Edgar, and he was the creator of When We Rise, an award-winning ABC miniseries.
- Alex Cox, 2018 Semel Chair
Alex Cox is the Writer/Director of the 1980’s indie cult classics Repo Man, Sid and Nancy, and Straight to Hell. He also co-wrote 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, an adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel, with director Terry Gilliam, and directed Three Businessmen, Revengers Tragedy, and Tombstone Rashomon, among many others.
- Courtney Kemp, 2018 Semel Chair
Courtney Kemp is the Creator and Showrunner of Starz series hit Power, which generated the network’s highest-ever audience numbers for its second season premiere and finale. She served as Writer and Producer on The Good Wife, and in 2011 she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series alongside fellow producers. Other work includes Staff Writer on The Bernie Mac Show, and producer and occasional writer on Hawaii 5-0.
- Joey Soloway, 2017 Semel Chair
Joey Soloway is the Creator, Director, and Writer of the award-winning show Transparent. The show has won countless awards, including two Golden Globe Awards and eight Emmys, including two for Soloway’s direction. Their other works include Executive Producer for I Love Dick, Writer on Six Feet Under, and more.
- Graham Moore, 2017 Semel Chair
Graham Moore is the Writer of the Academy Award-winning screenplay for The Imitation Game. He’s worked as a writer, producer, director, and composer for numerous films including the upcoming film, The Outfit. Moore is also a bestselling author and has adapted his second novel, The Last Days of Night, into a film.
Students interested in a career writing for film and television will enjoy networking opportunities offered exclusively by Emerson College. Our students have graduated and gone on to successful careers as:
- Executive Producers
- Podcast Hosts/Producers
Our Alumni have gone on to successful careers in the film and television industry. Recent notable alumni include:
- Nicole Savini, Co-Executive Producer of Tooning Out the News on Paramount+
- Kelly Edwards, Author of “Secrets From the Executive Chair”
- Jessica Hill, Director of Advertising at Warner Media
- CJ Ehrlich, Writer & second-place winner at the Ivy Film Festival, for the been script of Loser Island
- Kylie Rolincik, finalist for National Lampoon and Stage 32's Search for Comedy Writing Gold
- Willie Block, Co-Author of Prowl