CalArts Alumna Among BuzzFeed’s Inaugural Emerging Writers Fellows

BuzzFeed’s Emerging Writers Fellows from L: CalArts alum Niela Orr, Chaya Babu, Esther Wang and Tomi Obaro.

In December, BuzzFeed announced the four recipients of its inaugural Emerging Writers Fellowship. The fellowship, which awards $12,000, mentorship and personal development to “writers of great promise,” was founded “with the mission of diversifying the broader media landscape by investing in the next generation of necessary voices.”

The recipients of the fellowship are Brooklyn-based writers Chaya Babu and Esther Wang, Chicago-based writer Tomi Obaro and Philadelphia-based writer and CalArts alumna Niela Orr (Critical Studies MFA 15).

In an interview with Paper Magazine, BuzzFeed’s Executive Culture Editor Saeed Jones says of Orr:

She studied at CalArts. One of the essays that she’s wrote that really got my attention was a piece about the cinematic whitewashing of weed dealers. If you think about the last few years of TV, the white drug dealer who’s cool has become more of a trope…and it’s paralleled with drug legalization. She then looks and says, this is what’s happening, all while noting that the legacy of the war on drugs is a racial story as well. It’s interesting.

Read Orr’s “Weed, Whitewashed” in The Baffler.

BuzzFeed’s Emerging Writer Fellows were selected out of a pool of more than 500 applications. The fellows will join BuzzFeed starting this month, focusing on personal essays, profiles and cultural criticism.

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