Pillars Artist Fellowship
Our fellowship empowers emerging Muslim artists with the resources needed to pursue their greatest aspirations.
While Muslims are at the center of much of today’s news and entertainment media, few Muslims are in a position to shape those stories. New research from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative uncovers the unfortunate consequences this lack of access has on the narratives told on screen. As a partner on this research, Pillars Fund is making a commitment to invest in Muslim artists who can shift the lens through which our stories are told to one that is complex, accurate, and honest.
In partnership with actor and activist Riz Ahmed and Left Handed Films, Pillars created the Pillars Artist Fellowship program to empower Muslim artists on their pathway to success. We hope to positively influence the career trajectories of emerging Muslim writers, directors, and producers who may otherwise lack the opportunities to realize their full potential. Our fellowship offers participating artists unrestricted financial awards, high-quality one-on-one mentorship, career development curriculum, and active and ongoing community building. The hope is that substantial unrestricted financial and professional support can help artists reach their greatest aspirations.
Meet our Advisory Committee
Championing the Pillars Artist Fellows will be an advisory committee of Muslim artists who have been trailblazers in the industry, including Riz Ahmed, Mahershala Ali, Sana Amanat, Karim Amer, Rosa Attab, Yann Mounir Demange, Lena Khan, Nida Manzoor, Hasan Minhaj, Nijla Mu’min, Jehane Noujaim, Bassam Tariq, and Ramy Youssef.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Who is eligible for the Pillars Artist Fellowship?
The selection process will focus on artists who identify as Muslim and live in the U.S. or U.K. Citizenship is not required. Nominees must be adults, ages 18 years or older. Nominees should be in the early stages of their career—that does not necessarily mean you are young in age. Nominees should possess extraordinary creativity and an ability to create fresh, untold stories that advance social change. Designed as a multi-year program, the Pillars Artist Fellowship will focus in its first pilot year on writers and directors working in the film and TV industries. In further years, it will expand to cover artists from other disciplines, including literature, music, and visual arts.
How does a fellow become nominated?
Pillars Artist Fellows will be nominated through a process of outreach among industry and community networks, and will be selected by an advisory committee comprised of influential Muslim talent across arts and culture industries. The nomination process will open by August 1, and we’ll be rolling out details related to the process soon.
What kind of support will fellows receive?
- An unrestricted award of $25,000 enabling fellows to prioritize personal projects, rather than financial survival, and accelerate from ideation to development
- A curriculum of tailored professional development allowing fellows to navigate the industry with greater confidence. With workshops delivered by industry experts, fireside chats from the high-profile advisory committee, proactive one-on-one mentorship, the curriculum will cover pitching, seeking industry representation, financing works, and more.
- Teaching, coaching, and support from Pillars’ Muslim Narrative Change Cohort covering issues such as unpacking internalized Islamophobia, understanding harmful tropes, and using an effective culture change strategy
- An influential network and mutually supportive community of storytellers at different stages of their career that grows annually and allows fellows to build increased social capital that can open doors for career progression
- A capstone convening to complete the fellowship year where fellows will have the opportunity to showcase their work to industry partners and potentially earn industry representation and further sponsorship
How many fellowships will be available?
In our first year, we will be offering as many as 10 fellowships.
What is the timeline for the fellowship?
The nomination and application process will open August 1, 2021. Pillars Artist Fellowship recipients will be announced in January 2022, and the fellowship program will run from February to September 2022.