Rosanne Welch on writing for female characters, changing the pronoun in a script, and the power of research.
Rosanne Welch is a TV writer, author, professor, and feminist, who’s able to combine her passion in one place thanks to her current position as an adjunct professor at Stephen’s College (the oldest women’s college in the U.S.) for its screenwriting M.F.A. program.
The Stephen’s College screenwriting M.F.A. program is certainly unique: it’s the first low-residency program specifically for TV and screenwriting, and is explicitly designed to increase the number and impact of women working in film and TV. It’s the perfect fit for Welch, who teaches all four of its History of Screenwriting courses, from the Silent Era throughout modern day, as well as a One Hour Spec Script course, and Writing the One-Hour pilot.
Senior Hall, Stephen’s College. Image by HornColumbia (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia CommonsSenior Hall, Stephen’s College. Image by HornColumbia, via Wikimedia CommonsThe idea for the program came from Ken LaZebnik, who Welch had met decades earlier when they both wrote for Touched By An Angel.
According to Welch, “Ken LaZebnik came up with the idea for the program, to create a Master’s program for screenwriting, opposed to extension or continuing education screenwriting programs where there is no degree at the end of it, you just have the experience of writing in the program.
“He needed someone to do curriculum, he needed someone who had a PhD on staff, and he also only wanted to hire writers who were part of the Writer’s Guild, because he wanted the students taught by working writers and writers who had experience.”
Fortunately Welch fit the criteria. “I was really excited because a lot of Master’s programs focus on directing or film production or being a master of all trades, and he just wanted to focus on screenwriting.”
Welch’s current life as an academic is a far cry from her days as a secretary at Stephen J. Cannell productions, back when he was the biggest independent TV producer with shows like The A-Team and 21 Jump Street.