Frequently Asked Questions

Pillars Artist Fellowship

Read our FAQ to learn more about our Pillars Artist Fellowship application process.
Applications for the 2024 Pillars Artist Fellowship are now closed. Please sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on future opportunities.



Who is eligible for the Pillars Artist Fellowship?

To be eligible for the Pillars Artist Fellowship, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be directors or screenwriters who identify as Muslim.
  • Applicants must live in the U.S. or U.K.—meaning that you have a permanent address in either the U.S. or U.K. at time of application. Citizenship is not required, and we welcome undocumented applicants.
  • Applicants must be adults 18 years old or older.
  • Eligible screenwriters have compiled a portfolio with one primary and one secondary writing sample. The primary sample must be a completed pilot or feature-length script, and should reflect the work you are most proud of. The secondary writing sample should be an additional completed pilot or feature-length script showcasing your writing skills.
  • Eligible directors have compiled a portfolio with one primary and one secondary filmmaking work sample. The primary work sample must be either a short or feature showcasing their directing skills and should be the work you are most proud of. The secondary work sample can be an additional short or feature, OR a music video, commercial, completed pilot or feature script.
  • If you identify as a writer-director, we ask that you apply as a director.
  • In an effort to represent our communities as expansively as possible, we especially encourage those who identify as women, Black, Indigenous/Native, LatinX/e, disabled, LGBTQIA, refugee, and undocumented to apply.
  • Applicants must be emerging artists. We look for artists who are on the cusp of a shift in their careers. Pillars defines an emerging artist as a storyteller with some experience who meets 1-3 of the following criteria:
    • Has an agent or manager
    • Has directed a short or feature in the past 5 years
    • Has won a screenwriting award in the past 5 years
    • Has participated in another lab/fellowship in the past 5 years
    • Is a member of a professional guild or organization (i.e., DGA, WGA, ACE, Directors UK)
    • Has staffed on a television show or received a writing credit on a film
    • Has worked as an assistant in the entertainment industry for 2+ years
    • Has worked in another field in the entertainment industry for 2+ years
      • Entertainment industry is defined broadly and is inclusive of fields such as theater, music, and stand-up comedy.

If you do not meet 1-3 of these criteria and believe you are still a strong fit for this fellowship, we highly encourage you to apply. Your application will be given full consideration.

How many fellowships will be available?

We will be accepting 10 fellows for the 2024 fellowship year.

I identify as Muslim but am hesitant to be in Muslim spaces—is this fellowship for me?

Yes, this fellowship is for you. At Pillars, we seek to honor the unique, multidimensional experiences of our people and communities, and we welcome Muslims of all identities to join our fellowship. If you would like to be in touch about any concerns, please email our team at

I am an undocumented artist—can I apply?

Yes, the fellowship only requires applicants to be residents of the U.S. or U.K.—citizenship is not required. Fellowship retreats take place in both the U.K. and U.S., and if you are unable to travel due to your undocumented status, you unfortunately may not have access to the full in-person programming.


Selection Process

How does the Pillars Artist Fellowship application process work?

Eligible Muslim directors and screenwriters are invited to submit an application. To apply, you’ll need a short bio, resume, five-minute video personal essay, and two work samples.

Where can I get more information on how to apply?

Watch our information sessions to hear directly from Pillars Managing Director of Culture Change Arij Mikati, Program Manager Aya Nimer, and a former Pillars Artist Fellow here!

Be sure to check out our Instagram where we post information about the fellowship!

What is the timeline for the selection process?

Our selection committee will begin reviewing applications in November. All applicants will be notified of their status in summer 2024.

I have a disability and am concerned about submitting an application for the fellowship in time without accommodations—what should I do?

Please email our team at to request accommodations. We are happy to accommodate all applicants to ensure an equitable application process.

What exactly is Pillars looking for in my fellowship application?

Pillars reviews applications for their fit in three evaluative areas: divergence from harmful Muslim tropes, creative vision, and technical skill. We are particularly interested in films and scripts that tell joyful, honest stories from a Muslim point of view. We believe part of our liberation is diverging from tired terrorist narratives and centering the real, daily lives of Muslims. We are looking for storytellers who have an artistic style, a clear point of view, and a strong sense of their craft’s skillset. Our rubric highly values work that is distinct, thought-provoking, and character-driven. You can see the types of fellows that made up our first class here and here.

How selective is this fellowship?

The program fills 10 slots per year. While we don’t know how many applications we will receive this cycle, we can share that the 10 winners in our inaugural class were selected from more than 650 applicants.

Will I get feedback on my application if I am not accepted?

Due to the large number of applications we receive, we are not able to provide feedback on individual applications.



What are the benefits of the Pillars Artist Fellowship?

2024 Pillars Artist Fellows will receive:

  • An unrestricted award of $25,000
  • Accommodations and airfare paid for three in-person retreats that provide opportunities to learn, connect, and create with a supportive peer group of fellow artists. These retreats are likely to take place in New York City, London, and Los Angeles.
  • High-quality one-on-one mentorship, professional development in the entertainment field, and access to a trailblazing advisory committee of award-winning actors, directors, producers, and writers
  • Check out information on some of our past programming here:

What professional commitments are required of fellows? How much time should I expect to devote to this program?

The Pillars Artist Fellowship consists of three multi-day in-person gatherings across a 9-month period. At our last retreat, we host an artist showcase during which fellows present a short pitch to a room of entertainment industry professionals to introduce their work and launch the fellows into the next phase of their careers.

Virtual curriculum through the 9-month period includes limited Zoom webinars, panel discussions, and quarterly one-on-one meetings between fellows and their creative, industry, and advisor mentors.

What are other ways to get involved?

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