South Asians shine in Fresh Blood 3 funding cohort

A record number of South Asian artists have been funded as part of the third iteration of Screen Australia and ABC’s Fresh Blood comedy incubator.

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Three out of ten teams commissioned for the ABC and Screen Australia’s Fresh Blood initiative include or are entirely comprised of South Asian artists, a huge moment for diverse industry representation.

‘Ruby Rai’, ‘Urvi Went to an All Girls School’ and ‘Westerners’ were selected from over 400 entries and will each receive $50,000 towards their projects.

‘Urvi Went to an All Girls School’ is based on Urvi Majumdar’s latest stand-up show of the same name about a ‘nerdy Indian girl’ trying to fit in to 2010s Melbourne. The majority South Asian team includes Urvi Majumdar, Rohan Ganju, Suren Jayemanne, Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa and Sashi Perera, all steadily rising talents on the Australian comedy scene.

‘Westerners’ is a surrealist comedy-drama following three young adults of the diaspora as they move out of Sydney’s Western Suburbs to find their inner realities. The team features Sydney based DJ Munasib Hamid, best known for her work with KERFEW, working with up-and-coming diverse artists Miski Omar, Kevin Jin, Shehryar Hussain and Ayeesha Ash.

‘Ruby Rai’ follows an offbeat private investigator, and the team includes Melbourne based writer and performer Vidya Rajan, known for writing Malthouse Theatre’s 2022 production of ‘Looking for Alibrandi’.

Currently attending workshops in Sydney, the teams will then create three five-minute comedy shorts which will premiere on the ABC’s social platforms. Up to three projects will then be selected to make a longer pilot, with the potential for the ABC to commission a full series.

Lee Naimo, Screen Australia’s Head of Online and Games, is excited to be delivering the comedy incubator for another year.

Fresh Blood has a strong legacy of supporting new comedy creators, and it’s genuinely exciting to be able partner with the ABC again to develop these entertaining projects from these talented teams. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of this year’s cohort,” he said.

The Fresh Blood initiative has launched some of the biggest names in Australian comedy, including Nina Oyama, Aunty Donna, and Freudian Nip.

Diverse artists have long been campaigning for Australia’s creative scene to reflect the multiplicity of the broader society in which we live, and this latest Fresh Blood cohort is a promising step for media diversity. As well as a record number of South Asian talent, ‘Bad Ancestors’ features emerging First Nations and Pasifika artists, and ‘Starship Q Star’ is comprised of entirely female and non-binary artists.

Rachel Millar, ABC’s Acting Head of Entertainment, is delighted to be platforming the next generation of diverse comedy talent.

“The standard of applications submitted for Fresh Blood 3 has truly knocked our socks off, and narrowing the field to a top ten was a serious challenge. The ABC is thrilled to be running this initiative again in partnership with Screen Australia, and we can’t wait to see what the next generation of comedy creators comes up with. Bring on the lols,” she said.

The Fresh Blood 3 shorts will premiere on ABC and the creator’s social media platforms in mid-January.

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Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy is an emerging journalist and theatre-maker based in Melbourne.

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