Hailing from Arkansas, Texas, California, New York and Wisconsin, BET and Tracy Yvonne Productions announce finalists of its nationwide competition, “Project CRE8.” In partnership with powerhouse writer/director/producer Tracy Oliver (First Wives Club, Girls Trip, Little), “Project CRE8,” gave aspiring and emerging TV writers the opportunity to develop an original comedy for the small screen. After hundreds of submissions, the contestants were narrowed down to the top five scripts. Taylor Chukwu (Houston, TX), Thaddeus McCants (Madison, WI), Marcus A. Stricklin (Fairbanks, AK), Naman Gupta & Janki Parekh (New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA), and Desiree Thomas (Houston, TX), have advanced to the final round of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In the next and final round of the competition the finalists will pitch their original TV comedy to Tracy Oliver and a panel of successful TV executives with only one writer earning the title of “Project CRE8,” winner and having their winning TV script purchased for $25,000 and the opportunity to develop a comedy series with Oliver’s Tracy Yvonne Productions for BET.
The “Project CRE8,” finalists in alphabetical order are:
TV Script Title: “Second Coming”
Synopsis: Jay is a freshman student attending his dream school Freeman University, the country's foremost historically Black college. His time is cut short when his father, God arrives to Earth insisting he start the rapture and end life on Earth as we know it. With the help of his most loyal friends and roommates, Jay has a week to convince his father that planet Earth is worth saving. Will Jay's teenage urges put all of humanity at risk or will he step up and save us all from eternal damnation?
About Taylor: Chukwu is a Nigerian-American writer from Houston, Texas, who wants to showcase the variety of the Black experience. Chukwu is a USC graduate and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. since 2016. She spent six months studying in the U.K. at the University of Westminster in London. Chukwu is now based in Los Angeles, CA.
TV Script Title: “Lit Lounge”
Synopsis: A satire on marijuana’s transition from Schedule-I drug to corporate commodity, LIT LOUNGE is a 30-min series about a young Black man’s troubled climb to the top of the legal world of weed.
About Thaddeus: McCants is a Brooklyn-based playwright and television writer originally from Madison, Wisconsin. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Playwriting at NYU, where he is a Tisch Graduate Scholarship Award Recipient; he also holds a BFA in Acting from Ithaca College. His Comedy pilot ‘Lit Lounge’ is a finalist for the 2020 Yes, And Laughter Lab partnered with Comedy Central and 3Arts; His Sci-Fi pilot about the Flint water crisis ‘What Doesn’t Kill Us…’ was a semi-finalist for the 2020 ATX Pitch Competition sponsored by Sundance and The Black List, and his 30-Minute Comedy ‘Fakers’ has won festivals on both coasts. As a performer, he was in the original cast of the Disney's ‘Freaky Friday the Musical', working with Tony winners Christopher Ashley and Sergio Trujillo and has worked with HBO, MTV, and was a member of UCB NY (RIP) where he performed with his Lloyd team The Hometown Tigers.
Marcus A. Stricklin
TV Script Title: “Surviving The 80s”
Synopsis: After a freak electrical storm in 2019, the Harris family suddenly finds themselves trapped in 1983.
About Marcus: Stricklin was born on an American army base in Germany and has has visited all 50 states and over 70 different countries around the world. Stricklin is married, and a father of five. He has created several viral videos since the quarantine started. I've been a stay at home dad for the better part of 5 years now.
Janki Parekh & Naman Gupta
TV Script Title: “Inconvenient Love”
Synopsis: A rich Indian girl moves in with her broke dentist boyfriend, defying cultural bias and breaking her strict father’s one simple – yet impossible – rule: no black guys.
About Parekh and Gupta: Parekh enjoys highlighting social issues and presenting them through comedy. She has lived in India, New Jersey, Mississippi, and Los Angeles. All these places are home to her. Gupta grew up moving around India (military brat), have lived in New York the longest and it feels home.
TV Script Title: “Uncle Cole”
Synopsis: Cole is an ex-con who scams his way into becoming the caregiver for his young niece in order to avoid going back to prison. But when he's lured back into his old criminal life – this lifelong con artist is forced to balance being a role model with being a hustler.
About Desiree: Thomas is a born creative. She started directing plays in kindergarten (my peers would have to confirm if I was a visionary or just a bossy little kid). She stumbled into writing in junior high school - when the theatre elective class was full. Creative writing was my LAST CHOICE as an elective, and now I love it. When I was a kid, I forgot how to ride a bicycle - and that's not hyperbole. I have a fantastic memory. (2) The first comedy pilot I ever wrote took one of the top prizes at the Houston Comedy Film Festival. (3) In junior high school, I carried a dictionary with me everywhere I went. Not the pocket-sized - this was all 1550 pages of Merriam-Webster in her verbose and pedantic glory.
This year’s search for fresh new voices in television was announced during Blackhouse’s panel “Project CRE8: A Meditation on Dreaming – Alieu The Dreamer” at Sundance by Oliver and Connie Orlando, EVP of Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy at BET Networks. Last year BET and Paramount Players debuted the competition, thrusting contest winner Quincy Ledbetter of Brooklyn, NY into the director’s chair with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to direct his original script, “Alieu the Dreamer,” which was filmed over the summer and will make is world premiere later this month on BET.
For more information on “Project CRE8,” and to learn more about the diverse roster of finalists go to BET.com/Cre8. Join the conversation on social media by using and following the hashtag #ProjectCRE8.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
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