Tererai Rusike ’19, a graduate of the screenwriting M.F.A. program at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, is one of seven budding writers chosen to participate in the New York Screenwriter’s Workshop, a fellowship sponsored by the Writer’s Guild of America East and FilmNation Entertainment. As part of the six-month program, Rusike has been paired with a screenwriting mentor and given access to seminars, receptions, and other industry events while she develops a feature-length screenplay.

“It’s an intense program. I need it,” says Rusike, who is “super excited” to work with her mentor director, producer, and screenwriter Malcolm D. Lee, best known for his hit movies “Girls Trip,” “Night School,” and “The Best Man.” He is also a cousin to renowned director Spike Lee.

Rusike meets with Lee twice a month to work on the screenplay for a short film she is writing called “Let’s Kick Charlie’s Butt.” The script that she used when applying for the workshop is one she started writing when she was still in the Feirstein program. The film, “SAVIOR,” already has won accolades at the Slamdance Atlanta, Austin, and Sundance Lab film festivals. It is about a mother in Zimbabwe—where Rusike was raised—who finds herself widowed and contemplating whether she needs to remarry in order to support her child and herself.

“It explores the dynamics of generational pain and how difficult it is to survive in a country like that,” says Rusike, who grew up middle class, the daughter of two Ph.Ds, but was inspired by women she saw in her grandmother’s village. “There are so many beautiful women there who simply aren’t given opportunities. I want to explore stories no one talks about in different parts of the world that most people don’t know about. That’s a passion of mine.”

The screenwriters workshop is for early-career, New York City-based screenwriters who are underrepresented in the film industry, with the goal of diversifying the writers who have access to the meetings and projects that offer career sustainability.

In selecting Rusike—who is currently a showrunner’s assistant on the hit Showtime series “Power,” and its upcoming spinoffs—workshop officials noted her “multifaceted identity” and her penchant for “exploring the identity of others.” She was born in Michigan, moved to Zimbabwe when she was three, left there when she was 16 due to political unrest and economic collapse, and went to boarding school and completed her undergraduate studies in South Africa at Rhodes University. She then moved to New York hoping to further her studies in film and landed at Feirstein, where she was excited to be among a diverse group of screenwriters whose scripts ranged many genres, from afro-futurism to quirky comedies.

“It was refreshing to see different scripts and writers who all had their own voice,” she says. “It was small enough that we all got a lot of attention. I was also lucky to find a group of people I am still in contact with, who I can still call to read my work and whose opinions I trust and respect.”

Rusike says she’d like to get a job as a television writer and do independent film on the side.

“I want to build a name for myself first and use that as leverage to work on my passion projects,” she says.