Comedian and writer Athena Kugblenu has been awarded this year’s Felix Dexter Bursary. The six-month bursary, run by BBC comedy, was initiated three years ago in memory of actor Felix Dexter,who played John, the father of Saffron Monsoon’s child in Absolutely Fabulous.
The scheme was set up to find writers “with a fresh, unique point of view and the potential to help shape the future of comedy.” It is open to black, Asian and other ethnic minority writers or writing duos who are aged 18 or over, in a bid to address the under-representation of BAME professionals in comedy production in broadcasting.
The BBC said of Kugblenu: “Her stand-up style leads with intelligent, topical and thought-provoking jokes, with an edgy sting. Her first solo show, KMT, played the Edinburgh Fringe to four and five-star reviews, as did her 2018 follow-up Follow The Leader. Both featured in The Guardian, The Independent and The Telegraph’s best jokes compilations.
“As a regular co-host on The Guilty Feminist podcast, Athena is an exciting voice bringing her unique perspective on the subjects of race, gender and how equality shapes our modern lives. Athena is prominent on Twitter and has also written content for Time Out and Stylist Magazine where she brilliantly showcases her wit and wisdom both online and in print.”
Kugblenu said: “I’m thrilled and a little bit stunned to be awarded this bursary, especially one in the name of an indisputable comedy genius. This is a huge opportunity to develop my comedy writing and further my career, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Sarah Asante from BBC comedy commissioning said: “We’re very excited to welcome Athena to the third year of the Felix Dexter Bursary and hope that the training on offer leads to finding her voice and cementing her place in the scripted world.”
Adding: “On a practical level, the bursary gives up-and-coming talent the chance to make comedy writing their main focus for six months, while immersed in comedy production. They hone their skills while gaining experience on a range of BBC comedies across radio, TV and online, on panel shows, shorts, sitcoms or comedy entertainment shows. The programme offers the writers the support they need to take the next step in their career.”