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The scholarship is to be awarded each year for the next three years to develop Australian screenwriting talent, with a focus on diversity.

Melissa Lee Speyer has been identified as a gifted emerging screenwriter and the Scholarship will enable her to complete the AFTRS Master of Arts Screen: Screenwriting.

Melissa commenced her Masters this year.

Born in the UK to Chinese-Malaysian parents, Melissa moved to Australia with her family as a child. She was the first member of her father’s family to attend university and she is a law graduate, as well as a writer. She is also the mother of two small children who she describes as part Chinese-Malaysian, part First-Fleet Irish convict, and part Jewish.

In her application for the Scholarship, Melissa speaks of her ambition to write drama where the cultural diversity of Australia – as represented within her own family – is represented. “I don’t just want one role model on screen for my children, I want five, I want 50, I want 500. What role will I play in shaping the world so that as women of colour, their way is a little easier, as mine was made a little easier for me?” she says.

The successful applicant may also have the opportunity to undertake a work attachment at Foxtel.

The purpose of this scholarship is to expand and enrich AFTRS’ student community by recognising and supporting an outstanding Master of Arts Screen: Screenwriting student, selected on the basis of merit from eligible students from diverse cultural, ethnic or socio-economic backgrounds, or from otherwise underrepresented minority groups.

Bruce Meagher, Foxtel’s Group Director – Corporate Affairs said: “At Foxtel we work to create a positive future for Australian media, arts and film and we invest in and empower the next generation of Australians working to enter our industry. We also strongly believe that the rich diversity of Australian society should be represented on our screen. Our long-standing relationship with AFTRS allows us to support talented screenwriters through this new annual scholarship. We look forward to building a relationship with the Melissa over the course of her Masters.”

AFTRS CEO Neil Peplow said: “Melissa is an outstanding recipient of this first Foxtel diversity scholarship. She has already shown immense talent and I look forward to seeing the work she produces and the impact she’ll have at the School and in industry.

“AFTRS values Foxtel’s commitment to nurturing exceptional new talent in our industry and we are delighted to extend our partnership with this new scholarship initiative. AFTRS and Foxtel are both committed to encouraging the development of diverse Australian stories and so a preference will be given to scholarship applicants from diverse backgrounds.”