Founder of First Fifteen

Meet creator & founder

Jamila Webb

Jamila Webb is an actor and producer from St. Louis, Missouri; so she’s as Midwestern as you think she is but a whole lot more Midwestern than she thinks she is. She’s worked in theater, television, and film. Notable TV credits include Superstore, Jane the Virgin, The Office, Extant, Masters of Sex, Arrested Development, A.P. Bio, The Comedians, I’m Dying Up Here, Reboot, Family Reunion, and others. You could say she has a knack for playing “stubborn” women. She prefers to call them independent. She earned her B.A. in urban studies from Stanford University, followed by her M.F.A. in acting at American Conservatory Theater. Jamila resides in Los Angeles, where she loves to organize game nights with friends, cheer on LeBron, South Carolina’s WBB, and the St. Louis Cardinals, and find new podcasts to explore.

You have seen Jamila in...

| Genesis |

First Fifteen

I had been living in Los Angeles for a little over six years. While I had found my social group in the city, I was missing my artistic community. As a trained and working actor, I knew being able to learn and feed off the collective energy and wisdom in the room was critical to long-term success in this industry. Sadly, what was once an easy task in graduate school and New York City had become something of an odd chore in Los Angeles.

Despite knowing so many creative, wildly talented, and dope writers and actors personally, I quickly found they didn’t know each other and rarely met to collaborate, critique, and create. Everyone was operating in their silos. It was then I had the idea to launch a reading series to help change this dynamic and bring together that special synergy that sparked and developed my career early on.

Initially, I shared my reading series idea with a fellow actor friend, who was receptive to the idea; however, I knew I would need a variety of writers to participate if the real creative magic was to happen. The problem was the writers I knew were guarded about sharing their work with friends let alone strangers. So I suggested a compromise: just present the first 15 pages of your work. This way, there would be enough material for the actors to embody and give the writers enough time to review how their work is interpreted and received.

I invited about 30 trusted actors, writers, and entertainment professionals to “an afternoon of creativity and fellowship” in my friends’ East Hollywood apartment. Fifteen people showed up to take part, learn best practices, and develop the key relationships needed in the industry. Writers were excited to have their scripts read by professionals and actors were glad to flex their acting muscles.

In that moment, I felt alive. The event was a success, a spark of something great, and I wanted to make sure others had the same opportunity to experience this feeling. Thus, First Fifteen was born!

More and more people started showing up – some to read, some to share their first 15 pages, and others simply to watch. People were connecting and First Fifteen received rave reviews from attendees. After just four readings, we were blessed to collaborate with Kimberly Hébert of Black Rebirth Collective with a theater location to host our events and open up the availability to more in the community. Finally, the spirit of community that this collaboration intended had come to fruition.

We were preparing to host our first-year anniversary in March 2020 but the pandemic helped us pivot to virtual readings. At this same time, we joined forces with the incredibly talented Kemiyondo Coutinho (P-VALLEY) who became our Resident Writing Consultant. Whether we’re in a virtual or in-person space, we’re committed to artistic collaboration, insightful critique, and invigorating our community.
Meet resident writing consultant

Kemiyondo Countinho

Forbes Africa 30 under 30 recipient Kemiyondo Coutinho is a multi-hyphenate writer, actor, and director who writes for the fish out of the water. Whilst her storytelling double-dutches between hard-hitting themes and sharp-biting comedic commentary, the throughline in all her work remains making people feel seen. A self-proclaimed African nomad, Kemiyondo credits attending boarding school at UWC High School, which was home to students from nearly 60 nationalities at any given time, with providing the foundation for how she views the world.

Garnering multiple international awards, including NBC Universal’s Harness Social Impact Award, her short film KYVENU made a loud directorial debut. Kemiyondo is also the inaugural recipient of John Singleton’s Filmmaker’s Fellowship, Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Filmmaking Fellowship, Shadow & Act’s Rising Star Award and has been named one of OKAYAfrica’s 100 Women of Africa To Watch.

In the spirit of promoting Ugandan female filmmakers, she founded the #fivefor5 initiative, which grants five Ugandan female filmmakers the opportunity to produce a short film of their own.

Currently, Kemiyondo serves as a writer and co-executive producer on Season 3 of Starz’s smash hit, P-VALLEY, and she’s in development with Amazon. Her previous credits include EMPIRE OF MALI (Netflix/Lionsgate), STEP UP (Starz/Lionsgate), and P-VALLEY Season 2.

Kemiyondo prides herself on being kind and efficient.

Forbes Africa 30 under 30 recipient