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Academy Honors 5 Screenwriters With Nicholl Fellowships

Scenes from winning scripts will be read live by ensemble of actors, and winners receive a $35,000 prize

The Academy has revealed the five individuals selected as the winners of the 2019 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, a diverse group of men and women and people of color.

Fellows will each receive a $35,000 prize, and for the seventh consecutive year, their screenplays will be read aloud in a live performance by an ensemble of actors at an awards presentation on Nov. 7 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Here are this year’s honorees:

  • Aaron Chung, “Princess Vietnam”
  • Karen McDermott, “Lullabies of La Jaula”
  • Renee Pillai, “Boy with Kite”
  • Sean Malcolm, “Mother”
  • Walker McKnight, “Street Rat Allie Punches Her Ticket”

A total of 7,302 scripts were submitted for this year’s competition. Twelve screenwriters were selected as finalists, and a committee then voted on the winners. Fellows must then each complete a feature-length screenplay during the period of their fellowship year. Below are the remaining finalists:

  • Paul Ashton, “Slater Berricks Is a Dead Man”
  • Matthew Fantaci, “Scandalous!”
  • Lynn Esta Goldman, “On the Wing”
  • Gary Patent, “Cosmonaut”
  • Joel Sinensky, “The Lie Factory”
  • Toy Styles, “Concrete Beach”
  • Jack Zafran, “Justice, Justice”

The fellowship dates back to 1986 and has been awarded to 161 screenwriters. Past winners have included “Just Mercy” and “Short Term 12” director Destin Daniel Cretton, the writer of Disney’s “Dumbo” remake Ehren Kruger, Rebecca Sonnenshine, a co-executive producer and writer on the Amazon series “The Boys,” and Michael Werwie,” whose Nicholl-winning script was developed into the Ted Bundy movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” among others.

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee is chaired by Academy short films and feature animation branch governor Jennifer Yuh Nelson. The members of the committee are Eva Marie Saint (Actors Branch); John Bailey and Steven Poster (Cinematographers Branch); Marcus Hu and William Mechanic (Executives Branch); James Plannette and Stephen Ujlaki (Members-at-Large); Stephanie Allain, Albert Berger, Julia Chasman, Julie Lynn, Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro (Producers Branch); Bobbi Banks (Sound Branch); and Tina Gordon Chism, Eric Heisserer, Larry Karaszewski, Dan Petrie Jr., Misan Sagay, Kirsten Smith, Dana Stevens and Tyger Williams (Writers Branch).

Tickets for the 2019 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Awards Presentation & Live Read are now available. Casting for the live read will be announced at a later date.