News Release: January 19, 2017
Screenwriter Susannah Grant to Receive WGAW’s 2017 Paul Selvin Award for HBO’s Confirmation
2017 Award Recipient
Screenwriter Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich, In Her Shoes, The Soloist) has been named the recipient of the Writers Guild of America’s West’s 2017 Paul Selvin Award in recognition of her script for HBO’s telefilm, Confirmation, which “best embodies the spirit of constitutional rights and civil liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere.”
Grant – who also recently earned a WGA nomination for Long Form Original for Confirmation – will be honored at the WGAW’s 2017 Writers Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 19.
“From Erin Brockovich onward, Susannah Grant has used her extraordinary talents to tell the stories of those whose lives inspire us to be more courageous – and those whom wealth and power would ignore or discard. Confirmation tells Anita Hill’s harrowing tale with grace, heart, and consummate craft, all the while hewing to the historical record. It is a feat of research, writing, and empathy that honors Paul Selvin’s best ideals, and our own,” said WGAW President Howard A. Rodman.
HBO’s riveting, real-life drama Confirmation chronicles the headline-making political firestorm ignited after Judge Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is called into question when former employee Anita Hill (portrayed by Kerry Washington) testified that Thomas (portrayed by Wendell Pierce) sexually harassed her.
The film dramatizes the events surrounding Hill’s gripping 1991 testimony before Thomas’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings, shining a light on a crucial turning point in U.S. history regarding sexual harassment, the tremendous personal cost of speaking out about injustice, the unresolved tensions around race and gender in our culture, and the fundamental rights of all people to occupy a workplace free of discrimination.
The film’s depiction of the virulent attacks on Hill’s character serve as a painful reminder of her courage and sacrifice – which spurred a significant jump in national reporting of sexual harassment cases, an historic rise in the number of women elected to national office, and cemented Hill’s place in history as the person who brought sexual harassment out of the shadows and into a national dialogue. Grant’s adept, insightful screenplay illuminates Hill’s brave clarion call for justice, which is still as timely today as it was back in 1991.
In addition to the Writers Guild Awards, Confirmation has received numerous accolades this awards season, including Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, Critics’ Choice, NAACP Image, and Screen Actors Guild awards nominations.
From page to screen, Grant’s own social concerns have often been reflected in her thought-provoking, issue-driven screenplays – from Erin Brockovich to The Soloist and 28 Days. In 2001, Grant received Academy Award, WGA, and BAFTA nominations for Original Screenplay for the acclaimed hit film Erin Brockovich, in addition to earning a PEN USA Award for her screenplay. She has written screenplays for the films The Soloist (based on the book by Steve Lopez), In Her Shoes (based upon on the novel by Jennifer Weiner), and 28 Days, as well as co-written screenplays for the films Ever After: A Cinderella Story (co-written with Andy Tennant & Rick Parks), Charlotte's Web (co-written by Karey Kirkpatrick, based on the film story by Earl Hammer, Jr.; based on the book by E.B. White), The 5th Wave (co-written by Akiva Goldsmith & Jeff Pinker, based on the novel by Rick Yancey), and the animated Disney feature Pocahontas (co-written with Carl Binder and Philip LaZebnik). In 2007, Grant wrote and made her feature directorial debut with Catch and Release.
For television, from 1994-97 Grant served as a writer, producer, and director on the Fox drama series Party of Five, which received a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Drama as well as a Humanitas Prize. In 2011, she created and executive produced the CBS series A Gifted Man.
A WGAW member since 1994, Grant received the WGAW’s prestigious Valentine Davies Award in 2011, along with co-recipient Seth Freeman, honoring her humanitarian efforts and contributions to the entertainment industry and community at large.
Born in New York City, Grant is a graduate of Amherst College, with a degree in English, and the American Film Institute’s screenwriting program. In 1992, she received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting for her screenplay Island Girl. In the years since then, she has served as Chair of AMPAS’ Nicholl Fellowships Committee, playing a pivotal role in developing and spotlighting the work of young screenwriters. She has also served as an advisor for the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab for many years, mentoring the industry’s next generation of emerging screenwriters. In 2013, she was a guest speaker as part of BAFTA and BFI’s Screenwriter Lecture Series.
Named after the late Paul Selvin, general counsel to the Guild for 25 years, the Guild’s honorary award is given each year to the WGA member whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere and to which Selvin devoted his professional life. Previous recipients of the WGAW’s Paul Selvin Award include Tony Kushner, Dustin Lance Black, Tate Taylor, Eric Roth, Larry Karaszewski & Scott Alexander, Alex Gibney, Margaret Nagle, and John McNamara.