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Emerging Writers Group 2020-2023 Cohort

The Emerging Writers Group is a long-term program that provides key support and resources for writers at every stage of their careers.

Below is the 2020-2023 cohort and their Spotlight Interviews.


Image of NISSY AYA


Nissy Aya (Nissy; she/ze/we) is a Black girl from the Bronx. She and all her younger selves tell stories and tall tales -- while helping others to do the same. As a cultural worker and writer, we believe in the transformative nature of storytelling, placing those most affected by oppressive systems in the center, and examining how we move forward/shape new worlds/end this world through healing justice, Afrofuturist frameworks, and practices of feeling good. Our creative work reflects those notions while exploring the lines between oral history, archives and memory, detailing both the absence and presence of love, and giving all the life (and then some) to Black Femmes.

Image of AYA AZIZ


Aya Aziz (she/her) is a writer, performer, and music producer from New York. Her musical Eh Dah? Questions for my Father, for which she wrote book, music, and lyrics, produced a sold-out run in New York Theatre Workshop’s 2019 “Next Door” series. An earlier iteration of the show, then a one-woman musical, ran at the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) in 2016, where it won awards for Most Outstanding Book and Most Outstanding Individual Performance. Aziz is a 2020 NYFA grant recipient and is currently working on her album. Notable concert credits include Signature Theatre, Cherry Lane, NAMT, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Joe’s Pub, NYMF, and Disney's Women of Broadway. Aziz has also made music for film, most recently Ask for Jane (2019 winner of Best Feature at the Big Apple Film Festival). You can listen to her single “Rapids” on all streaming platforms. 



Francisca Da Silveira (she/her) is a Cape Verdean-American playwright and dramaturg. She received a BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a MSc in Playwriting from the University of Edinburgh. In 2018, she made ArtsBoston's list of 10 Contemporary Black Playwrights You Should Know. She has been a finalist for SpeakEasy Stage’s 2018 and 2019 Boston Project Residency and SPACE on Ryder Farm’s 2020 Creative Residency, and was a semi-finalist for the Dennis & Victoria Ross 2018 Playwrights Program, Papatango's 2019 New Play Prize, and Theatre503’s 2019 International Playwriting Award. Her work has also been developed with the Traverse Theatre Scotland, Fresh Ink Theatre, Flat Earth Theatre, The Fire This Time Festival, and Company One Theatre, where she was previously a company dramaturg and Literary Manager. She is currently the Assistant Literary Director at Geva Theatre Centre in Rochester and serves as an At-Large Ambassador with the National New Play Network.

Image of KATIE ÐỖ


Katie Đỗ (she/her) is a Vietnamese-American writer and actor. Her plays include love you long time (already)The Yellow Ranger Play, and Manic. She is currently a member of The Public’s Emerging Writers Group (2020-2022). Do was also a finalist for the Greenhouse Residency at SPACE on Ryder Farm (2020 & 2021). She is a graduate from Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts with a BFA in Acting. Acting credits include: To All the Boys I Loved Before 3, “Manifest,” “Mrs. Fletcher,” and The God Committee

Image of UGBA


UGBA (he/they) is a Black/queer poet, actor, and activist based out of Brooklyn, NY.  His essays and poetry can be found in The Rumpus, The Root, Afropunk, Black Youth Project, The Grio, and elsewhere. In the summer of 2018, UGBA debuted his one-man show Neptune as the headliner for Dixon Place's annual “Hot Festival.” Following rave reviews and sold-out performances, Neptune was then restaged as the 2019 kick-off event for Brooklyn Museum’s acclaimed “1st Saturday" series. UGBA is an alumnus of The Public Theater’s #BARS program, the brainchild of actors/writers Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. UGBA is the Senior Editor at RaceBaitr.com, Program Director at NY Writers Coalition, and is represented by Abrams Artist Agency for Acting.



Ying Ying Li (she/her) was born in Beijing and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A graduate of Yale Law School, she practiced corporate law in NYC before restarting her life as a writer and performer. She is a member of The Public Theater's 2020–2023 Emerging Writers Group, and the Parent/Caregiver Playwrights Group, sponsored by Project Y Theatre and supported by New Georges and the 5th Floor Theatre Groundbreakers Grant. She is an alumna of The Tank’s Playwrights Group, The Tank’s TV Writers Group, and Harvardwood’s TV Writers Group. Her plays include Dance Moms (Premiere Play Festival semi-finalist, NEA grant recipient), Nectarine Girl, Doctor Mao, and Baskin Robbins at a Mall. Her work has been commissioned by Project Y, and developed or seen at The Tank, Boomerang Theatre, Rule of 7x7, Decent Company, Yes Noise, The Brick, and on The Highline (so many helicopters, lesson learned). Her humor writing and videos have appeared in publications such as the NYT, Buzzfeed, Wired, MSN, Lifehacker, Men’s Health, and Mental Floss. Ying Ying is a member of Actors’ Equity and SAG/AFTRA. She has two delicious small children.



Julián Mesri (he/him) is a New York-based Argentinean-American writer and composer who makes multilingual plays and musicals in the U.S. and around the world. Recent productions include Immersion (Ingenio Festival at Milagro Theater, BAPF Semi-Finalist), The Gauchos Americanos (Teatro Extranjero, Buenos Aires), and the upcoming musical Telo. Other work includes music directing/arranging Songs About Trains with Radical Evolution, composing music for The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit presentation of Pablo Neruda’s Romeo y Julieta, and a new commissioned musical for young audiences, The Adventures of Snow White, to tour China in 2021. Mesri has been an Emerging Artist of Color Fellow at NYTW, a Van Lier fellow at Repertorio Español, and the recipient of an ASCAP Scholarship. His adaptation of Fuenteovejuna received the HOLA Outstanding Production award. As a translator, he has worked for both the Lark U.S./Mexico Exchange and PEN World Voices. He received his MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and is a 2020 Sokoloff Arts Creative Fellow.

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AriDy Nox (she/they) is a multi-disciplinary black femme storyteller and social activist with a variety of forward-thinking creative works under her/their belt including the sci-fi operetta Project Tiresias (2018), the ancestral reckoning play A Walless Church (2019), the afrofuturist ecopocalypse musical Metropolis  (2019), and many othersNox creates out of the vehement belief that creating a future in which marginalized peoples are free requires a radical imagination. Their tales are offerings intended to function as small parts of an ancient, expansive, awe-inspiring tradition of world-shaping, created by and for black femmes. As a graduate of the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch School of the Performing Arts at NYU and a beneficiary of the Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, she has been inordinately privileged to share the workings of her imagination among a vast array of inspiring and supportive artists of various radical backgrounds throughout the city. 

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Else Went (they/she) is a trans identified playwright, whose work has been developed through: fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, Playwrights Realm, Trans Theatre Lab @ WP & The Public, and Living Room Theatre; commissions from Weston Playhouse, Florida Studio Theatre, and Parity Productions; residencies from Stillwright and Barn Arts Collective; and productions with The Tank and The Brick. Their queer epic Initiative was made a semifinalist in the '20 O'Neill Conference, and their verse play Courage! To the Field! was a semifinalist for the Shakespeare's New Contemporaries project at ASC. Their writing has been anthologized in The Dionysian, Vivace, and Written on the Body. Else is co-founder and playwright of The Renovationists, and also serves variously as a sound designer.


Spotlight Interview: Aya Aziz

In conversation with Jaclyn Backhaus

Spotlight Interview: Ying Ying Li

In conversation with Abby Rosebrock

Spotlight Interview: Francisca Da Silveira

In conversation with Mfoniso Udofia

Spotlight Interview: Else Went

In conversation with peers

Spotlight Interview: Katie Đỗ

In conversation with Martyna Majok

Spotlight Interview: Julián Mesri

In conversation with José Rivera

Spotlight Interview: AriDy Nox

In conversation with adrienne maree brown

Spotlight Interview: Nissy Aya

In Conversation With Erika Dickerson-Despenza



Pictured Above: Logo, EWG (EMERGING WRITERS GROUP) in bold black text over a pink filigree and white background.