Melissa Lee Speyer.
Emerging screenwriter Melissa Lee Speyer’s aim to write drama that captures the cultural diversity of Australia has earned her a scholarship to complete her Masters at AFTRS.
The $20,000 Foxtel Diversity Screenwriting Scholarship, of which Speyer is the inaugural recipient, aims to foster diverse Australian writing talent.
Born in the UK to Chinese-Malaysian parents, Speyer moved to Australia as a child. A law graduate as well as a writer, she is the first in her father’s family to attend university. Speyer is also the mother of two young children whom she describes as part Chinese-Malaysian, part First-Fleet Irish convict and part Jewish.
“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 wrote in her application.
The scholarship will enable Speyer to complete her Masters in Arts Screen: Screenwriting and undertake a work attachment at Foxtel.
AFTRS CEO Neil Peplow said Speyer was an outstanding first recipient of the award. “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.”
Foxtel’s group director, corporate affairs, Bruce Meagher, said the company looked forward to building a relationship with Speyer over the course of her Masters.
“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,” he said.
The scholarship will be awarded each year for the next three years. It is awarded on the basis of merit to an eligible student from a diverse cultural, ethnic or socio-economic background or otherwise underrepresented minority group.