BuzzFeed has announced its four inaugural Emerging Writers Fellows: Chaya Babu, Tomi Obaro, Niela Orr, and Esther Wang. The fellows will each receive twelve thousand dollars, as well as mentorship from BuzzFeed editorial staff over the course of four months.
Chaya Babu is a New York City–based writer whose work focuses on race, migration, gender, and sexuality. She is working on a novel, and was the Asian American Writers’ Workshop 2015 Open City Fellow.
Tomi Obaro is a writer based in Chicago; she is an assistant editor at Chicago Magazine.
Neila Orr is a Philadelphia-based writer who is working on a book about the convergence of black pop culture and visual art.
Esther Wang is a writer based in New York City; she was the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Open City Creative Nonfiction Fellow in 2013.
The applicants were chosen from more than five hundred applications, said Saeed Jones, BuzzFeed’s executive editor of culture. “With each of these writers their work reintroduces you to what you thought you knew,” Jones told Paper. “When I go back to the work that all of these fellows are doing, that’s part of it—where a writer can point to an aspect of culture that you already recognize and then make a new constellation [out of all this information]. Like even if you’re aware of one of the stars that they’re mentioning, they talk about this, and this, and this, and all of a sudden you’re like “whoa” and your perspective is changed. That to me is the epitome of great culture writing.”
The fellows will begin at the BuzzFeed offices in New York City in January, and will focus on writing personal essays, profiles, and cultural criticism for the media company.
To learn more about the program, read Jones’s Q&A with Cat Richardson in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine
Photos (from left to right): Babu, Obaro, Orr, and Wang