We’re thrilled to introduce our TV contest division winners in the 2022 TV Fellowship competition. Each of these writers placed first in their respective divisions of Original Drama, Original Comedy, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Congratulations to them all!
Heather Ragsdale – Original Drama Division Winner
Heather Ragsdale’s Original Drama Division winning teleplay is THE LIONESS, an historical drama. Legend has it, Jeanne De Clisson was the most ruthless pirate who ever sailed the English Channel. Once a noblewoman, a devoted mother and a loyal wife, Jeanne must discard everything she has known about herself to avenge her husband’s death by helping England win the war against France when he is wrongfully executed by the French crown. Her true life story has never been told…Until now.
Heather Ragsdale, an award-winning writer, director, and filmmaker, is the product of two hippies who moved to the wilderness of Northern California to live off the land. Ironically, a childhood spent creating her own entertainment in the middle of nowhere gave her the drive to tell stories in the heart of everything: Hollywood.
After earning a BA from Occidental College in theater, Heather worked her way up from stage managing to producing new plays to directing theater professionally. She returned to USC for a Master’s degree in film production where she won a D.G.A. award and Student Emmy for the film she wrote and directed.
Heather went on to work for editor Kate Amend on the Academy-Award winning Into the Arms of Strangers and as a writer’s assistant for Toni Graphia and Ronald D. Moore. Her female-forward scripts have placed in CineStory, The Writers Lab, Final Draft Big Break, Nicholl Fellowships, been shortlisted at Tribeca All Access (for a Sloan Grant), and been second rounders at Austin Film Festival and in the Sundance Labs.
Today, Heather lives and works in LA as a freelance writer with her camera operator husband and her two teenage boys. Although her “wild” days are behind her, she carries a little bit of that off-the-beaten path attitude that celebrates what it means to be human no matter who you are or where your journey takes you.
In Kristen Angonese’s Original Comedy Division prizewinning teleplay, REAPER, INC., a disillusioned Millennial finds a new purpose when she’s accidentally pulled into Reaper, Inc. — the company of Grim Reapers that design human deaths — and strikes a deal with an anxious, underperforming Reaper to help crack the “Millennial Death Market.”
Quitting a stable tech job and going back to community college to explore film and television might seem a little insane. I mean, who in their right mind gives up that level of security for a career path with no guarantee of success?
Well, it turns out, Kristen Angonese does.
Before this massive career pivot, Kristen had a straightforward life. She grew up in a sleepy small town in Michigan, dreaming up imaginary worlds and characters and immersing herself in every facet of television and film to escape her banal reality. Unfortunately, she happened to be good at math and science and set aside these daydreams to earn a degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Michigan. She parlayed this into a steady stream of stable market research careers for consumer product and gaming companies. Ever heard of Swiffer, Mr. Clean or Farmville? Yes, that Farmville.
Everything changed in 2017 when she was about to get promoted. Instead of jubilation and fulfillment, she felt despair and apathy. Despite the free breakfast/lunch/dinner, FIFA video game tournaments, and really good healthcare, the droll and monotony of corporate life was no longer her future. Following some serious soul searching, she quit her job and went to community college to further explore her passion for creating imaginary worlds and characters.
At community college she discovered screenwriting–a way to bridge her logical, engineering structure-centric brain with her overactive, frenetic imagination. She wrote her first screenplay OUT ON A LIMB in 2018 which she used to get into UCLA’s MFA Screenwriting program in 2019. Over the course of many scripts and two years at UCLA, she refined her craft and found her voice.
Kristen infuses each story with her passion for extraordinary worlds. Be it inside of the imagination of a child or within a streaming platform’s buzzing metropolis or even in a Grim Reaper “Death Design” corporation — she loves making the fantastical real. But she also uses her own experiences, grounding these with stories of strong female protagonists who learn to eschew other’s expectations to discover their true selves. And found families that support them along the way.
Kristen has received several accolades. Her half-hour comedy pilot REAPER, INC. won the Original Comedy Division at CineStory’s 2022 TV Retreat and Fellowship Competition. Her drama feature GAMES IN THE SKY was a 2020 Nicholl Fellowship Quarter Finalist, a 2020 Humanitas’ Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Fellowship Semi-Finalist; and 2020 Finalist in UCLA’s Screenwriting Showcase. And her family feature, NOW STREAMING was a 2021 Finalist in UCLA’s Screenwriting Showcase.
She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and the Bay Area with her wife and two dogs. (If left unchecked, she will shove photos of them in your face.) In her spare time, she enjoys indoor cycling, boxing, and crying over Michigan football losses.