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Announcing the Recipients of AFTRS’ 2021 Graduate Program

Top (L-R): Aemon Barzanji, Andrew Burvill, Faraz Anarwala, Kayla Groombridge, Keziah Zen-Aloush, Melissa Brooks, Tace Stevens; Bottom (L-R): Raquel Cuevas, Ruby Langsworth, Skye Leon, Stella Sciberras, Tatjana Hamilton, Jasmine Stokes, Michael Odewahn-Oxley

AFTRS has today announced the 14 recipients of its expanded 2021 AFTRS Graduate Program. The Graduate Program is an industry partnership between AFTRS – Australia’s national screen and broadcast school — and the ABC, BBC Studios, Endemol Shine Australia, Eureka Productions, Fremantle, ITV Studios Australia, SBS, Sky News Australia, Warner Bros. and WildBear Entertainment.

The AFTRS Graduate Program creates tangible employment pathways for creative, multi-skilled and motivated graduates from the Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production. In a highly competitive industry, the program gives these graduates hands-on experience and the opportunity to be involved in a variety of roles, including development, production, marketing and programming, during a 13-week paid internship with participating host organisations.

In 2021, 14 AFTRS graduates have secured places with our partners in the AFTRS Graduate Program. Skye Leon and Jasmine Stokes will join the ABC, Kayla Groombridge and Tace Stevens will join BBC Studios, Tatjana Hamilton and Michael Odewahn-Oxley will join Endemol Shine Australia, Keziah Zen-Aloush will join Eureka, Faraz Anarwala will join Fremantle, Ruby Langsworth will join ITV Studios Australia, Raquel Cuevas will join SBS, Aemon Barzanji will join Sky News Australia, Stella Sciberras will join Warner Bros. and Andrew Burvill and Melissa Brooks will join WildBear Entertainment.

Nell Greenwood, AFTRS CEO, said: “With the commitment and generosity of our partners, AFTRS has been able to substantially expand its Graduate Program this year in terms of both the number and range of placements. Internships are critical to providing real-world experience, developing professional networks and building robust pipelines for Australian talent, and this program provides vital opportunities for some of our most talented graduating students to work in top production companies, hone their professional skills and develop their creativity.”

Michael Carrington, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist, said: “The ABC is proud to work with the AFTRS Graduate Program in supporting Australia’s great emerging talent. Success in our creative sector is built on the support of your peers and providing the next generation of storytellers with the opportunities to learn, develop and shine. The AFTRS Graduate Program embodies that ethos and we are delighted to welcome Skye Leon to the ABC Children’s team and Jasmine Stokes to the ABC Factual & Culture team in 2022.”

Kylie Washington, GM and Creative Director, Production, BBC Studios Australia and New Zealand said: “It’s important for any industry to nurture their new talent and AFTRS’ Graduate Program does a wonderful job of helping talented individuals get their start in a competitive world. Creativity is the lifeblood of our business and we are excited to take on two graduates as the standard was so strong. So we welcome Kayla and Tace to BBC Studios in 2022 where I am sure they will flourish.”

Peter Newman, CEO, Endemol Shine Australia, said: “We are proud supporters of the AFTRS Graduate Program. This year we were particularly impressed by the calibre of applicants, their presentation materials, their creativity and their knowledge and understanding of the local content market. We look forward to welcoming Tatjana Hamilton and Michael Odewahn-Oxley to ESA in 2022 and we wish all of the graduating students the very best for their future careers in the content industry.”

Paul Franklin, CO-CEO, Eureka Productions, said: “Eureka Productions is excited to welcome our first ever intern from the AFTRS Graduate Program, Keziah Zen-Aloush, to the team in 2022. Our mantra is to be a next generation production company which makes our partnership with AFTRS extremely important to us. The talent and creativity we see in the graduates is a privilege to nurture further within Eureka. We aim to provide all AFTRS graduates with an inspiring and passionate platform to excel in this industry and to become the next generation of storytellers.”

Fremantle Head of Drama, Brett Popplewell, said: “Fremantle is once again excited to be involved in the AFTRS Graduate Program. This incredible opportunity, in a competitive and rewarding course, is the launch pad of many talented contributors to the Australian and international drama landscape. Every year Fremantle looks forward to welcoming AFTRS graduates into the industry. We welcome their passion and their gift, and we have enjoyed the fruits of the program with successful applicants becoming worthy contributors to the Fremantle talent pipeline. This highly sought-after program ensures emerging talent continues to access Australia’s dynamic television industry and reap the benefits of their hard work. The difficulty of deciding who to award graduate positions to is a testament to AFTRS, its teachers and staff and the schools’ contemporary method to entertainment education.”

ITV Studios Australia CEO and Managing Director, David Mott, said: “ITV Studios Australia is thrilled to be involved in the AFTRS 2021 Graduate Program. It is so important to support upcoming talent and to provide opportunities for those seeking work experience in the industry. We are blown away by the talent and passion of the graduates and we are super excited to welcome Ruby Langsworth to the ITV Studios Australia team. We wish Ruby, and all the graduates, the absolute best of luck as they embark on the graduate program for 2021.”

John Godfrey, Head of Unscripted, SBS, said: “We’re delighted to be a part of the AFTRS Graduate Program again this year and look forward to welcoming Raquel into the team to work across some of our key programs in 2022. SBS continues to be a proud partner in the program because of the meaningful and valuable opportunities it provides in supporting the next generation of talent, and in contributing to a more inclusive future for our sector.”

Paul Whittaker, Sky News Australia, Chief Executive Office, said: “As we enter the third year of the AFTRS/Sky News partnership, we are pleased to again offer the opportunity for an AFTRS student to gain the hands-on experience needed to enter the ever-changing and always challenging broadcast news industry. Sky News is proud to welcome Aemon Barzanji as our 2021 AFTRS Graduate Program recipient.”

Rani Seckold, Warner Brothers ITVP Director of Commercial, Production & Operations, said: “We are beyond excited to welcome AFTRS graduate Stella Sciberras to join the team here at Warner Bros. in the capacity of ‘Production Assistant’. With Stella’s current fantastic industry experience and contagious enthusiasm, we hope this position will provide her with the tools and development she is seeking to lead the next generation in our industry. Thank you AFTRS for allowing Warner Bros. to join this incredible journey.”

WildBear Entertainment Head of Production, Holly Trueman, said: “WildBear Entertainment is very excited to be joining the AFTRS Graduate Program for the first time in 2021. The calibre of the graduates we met was outstanding and we are honoured to have been given the opportunity to meet these amazing people. We can’t wait to bring Melissa and Andrew into the WildBear team in Canberra and help nurture their skills to develop the next generation of content makers. Thank you to the AFTRS team for bringing us on this journey”.

Organisations interested in being part of AFTRS’ 2022 Graduate Program are encouraged to contact AFTRS at internships@aftrs.edu.au.