2023 Define American Fellowship

Supporting immigrant artists and storytellers in their creative and professional development.

About the fellowship

The world is moved by stories and storytellers. Culture is changed by compelling narratives.

The 2023 Define American Fellowship supports artists and storytellers who happen to be immigrants who are working in narrative art forms. We will select five fellows to participate in workshops and conversations around: defining and broadening their audiences, demystifying career paths and opportunities, and methods for building support for a creative practice both within their individual communities as well as in the larger national arts community.

Apply here!

Who should apply

The 2023 Define American Fellowship is open to immigrant artists working in a lead creative role in narrative-oriented art forms (writing, filmmaking, visual storytelling, theater, illustration, podcasting, etc.) with some experience in their chosen medium.

Examples of experience level:

(These ranges are only to be used as reference and are not a requirement for application.)

  • Filmmakers who have completed 2-3 short films 
  • Writers who have published 2-3 short-form pieces and/or 1-2 books
  • Theatre makers who have written and/or directed 1-3 produced plays
  • Illustrators/Cartoonists who have published 2-3 pieces 
  • Podcasters with an established show they consistently either produce and/or write for
  • Digital storytellers with a consistent audience and content output

What you’ll gain from being a fellow

  • A $5,000 stipend
  • An in-person gathering
  • Regular check-ins with Define American staff
  • 6-8 professional development workshops and facilitated conversations
  • Introductions to experienced artists and storytellers in their field
  • An opportunity to apply for additional project-based funding

Conversations and workshops may include:

  • Telling your own story
  • Building digital audience through an artist website and social media
  • How to find and apply for arts grants and other funding 
  • Culture change in the worlds of entertainment media, journalism, and digital storytelling 
  • The role of an artist in intersectional and ethical storytelling 
  • Best practices for engaging community organizations in your creative practice

Application Process

  • Read through the fellowship expectations and tips for applying.
  • Complete the application form and upload portfolio
  • 2023 application period: January 3 to February 3 at 11:59pm PST
  • Finalists will be contacted by email to schedule a phone interview in March

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least 18 years old at time of application
  • Must have been born outside of the U.S. and currently living in the U.S.
  • Must be an Immigrant American, regardless of current immigration status. Undocumented, DACAmented, naturalized citizens, green card holders, refugees, and asylum seekers are encouraged and welcome to apply.
  • Cannot be enrolled in a degree-seeking program during the length of this fellowship (May-November 2023)

For questions regarding the fellowship, please email fellowship@defineamerican.com

2023 Fellowship Expectations

The fellowship runs May 1 – November 30, 2023.

A weekend in-person gathering in a major U.S. city is planned for mid-2023 (health restrictions permitting.) All travel, lodging, and meal costs will be covered for participants.

Fellows will schedule regular calls with Define American staff to check-in about their fellowship experience, how their projects are developing, where they are looking for connections and professional development, and more. These can be scheduled weekly, every other week, or once a month depending on what the fellow finds most helpful and at a time of day that works best for them.

Fellows will attend 6-8 90-minute webinar workshops and facilitated conversations over the course of the fellowship on topics including storytelling, communications, fundraising, culture change in various fields, and more. These conversations will be scheduled at a time that is most conducive for most fellows with the expectation that participation in these workshops is mandatory.

Conversations and workshops may include:

  • Telling your own story
  • Building digital audience through an artist website and social media
  • How to find and apply for arts grants and other funding
  • Culture change in the entertainment industry
  • The role of an artist in intersectional and ethical storytelling
  • Best practices for engaging community organizations in your creative practice

Over the course of the fellowship, artists will further define their creative and professional goals, the audience for their work, as well as identify support and supporters for the next steps in their career.

Upon acceptance to the program, in order to receive the $5,000 stipend, fellows must send:

  1. Completed W-9
  2. Invoice made out to Define American
  3. Signed Define American Fellowship Agreement

Each fellow will complete an exit survey and interview upon completion of the fellowship. Define American will use this feedback to continue to develop opportunities for creative professionals. Define American will also send surveys post-fellowship to gauge the continued impact of the fellowship.

F.A.Q.

We loosely define this as mediums rooted in storytelling: writing, filmmaking, photography, theatre, illustration, design, comics, podcasting, etc. We find we can be most helpful to artists working and creating in these fields but we are open to other mediums as long as you can explain the narrative angle of your work.

This fellowship is best suited to artists who have solid experience in their craft and are looking to expand their network/following/career. Some examples of experience level:

  • Filmmakers who have completed 2-3 short films
  • Writers who have published 2-3 short-form pieces and/or 1-2 books
  • Theatre makers who have written and/or directed 1-3 produced plays
  • Illustrators/Cartoonists who have published 2-3 pieces
  • Podcasters with an established show they consistently either produce and/or write for
  • Digital storytellers with a consistent audience and content output

(These ranges are only to be used as reference and are not a requirement for application.)

No. The reason for this is both because an artist in a degree-seeking program is already receiving support from their educational institution and also because we find that fellows enrolled in educational programs often don’t have the time to get everything out of the fellowship they could otherwise.

No. This fellowship is open to those who were born outside the U.S. and currently living in the U.S. because so many other fellowship and arts grant programs have requirements around citizenship and immigration status that exclude immigrants and especially undoc+ applicants.

Regular fellowship workshops, check-ins, and other activities will take place online. We plan to have at least one in-person fellowship gathering in 2023 (dependent on COVID restrictions). Travel, meals, and accommodations will be provided for all fellows attending the in-person gathering.

You are welcome to show work from various mediums. We suggest that you focus on the parts of your practice that exemplify storytelling since this fellowship is geared towards artists in narrative art fields.

Each application is carefully reviewed by fellowship staff, alumni, and creative professionals. Applicants that are selected for the final stage will be invited for an interview.

Define American is a culture change organization that uses the power of narrative to humanize conversations about immigrants. Our advocacy within news, entertainment, and digital media is creating an America where everyone belongs. We were founded in 2011 by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and named one of the world’s most innovative companies by Fast Company.

Each fellow receives a stipend of $5000.

All fellows receive their stipend at the beginning of the fellowship. In order to receive the funds, fellows need to sign a fellowship agreement and submit an invoice and W9.

All applicants will be notified of a decision by the end of March 2023.

The 2023 fellowship runs from May 1 – November 30, 2023.

Our Fellows

Ana Armengod

Multidisciplinary artist, 2019 Fellow
she/her

Jason Fitzroy Jeffers

Filmmaker, 2022 Fellow
he/him

Ju Hong

Podcaster and activist, 2022 Fellow
he/him

Nicole Solis-Sison

Artist and creative director, 2022 Fellow
she/her/they/them

Tracy Chahwan

Cartoonist and illustrator, 2022 Fellow
she/her

Yehimi Cambrón

Artist and activist, 2022 Fellow
she/her

Ash Goh Hua

Filmmaker, 2021 Fellow
any pronouns

Brian Herrera

Graphic designer, 2019 Fellow
he/him

Charlotte Abotsi

Writer and filmmaker, 2021 Fellow
she/her

Christian Arteaga

Actor, 2019 Fellow
he/him

Danyeli Rodriguez Del Orbe

Community organizer, writer, and spoken word performer, 2020 Fellow
she/her

Daveed Baptiste

Designer and photographer, 2021 Fellow
he/him

Elnaz Javani

Multidisciplinary artist, 2019 Fellow
she/her

féi hernandez

Writer and visual artist, 2021 Fellow
they/them

Fernando Lopez

Photographer, 2019 Fellow
he/him

Goolam Saber

Multi-disciplinary visual artist, 2020 Fellow
he/him

Grecia Huesca Dominguez

Author, poet, and Founder, 2020 Fellow
she/her

Julie Yeeun Kim

Singer/songwriter, 2019 Fellow
she/her

Karla Daniela Rosas

Painter, 2019 Fellow
they/she

Kenia R. Guillen

Filmmaker, 2021 Fellow
she/her

Lilian Shtereva

Painter, 2019 Fellow
she/her

Maryam Faridani

New media artist, 2020 Fellow

Yao Xiao

Cartoonist and illustrator, 2021 Fellow
she/her

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