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Armie Hammer, Terry Crews and Boots Riley on Tuesday night joined hundreds of screenwriters at the Paramount Theater for the 14th Annual Final Draft Awards, intended to honor excellence in screenwriting.
Honorees included Riley, who received the New Voice Award for Film; screenwriter Callie Khouri, who was given the Hall of Fame Award; and Tanya Saracho, who was recognized with the New Voice Award for Television. The awards are presented by Final Draft, one of the most popular screenwriting software programs in Hollywood.
Riley, a first-time writer who broke through with his hilarious and surreal film Sorry to Bother You, admitted that in order to find success he had to stop thinking about pleasing other people and write about what he personally was passionate about.
“What I realized works is when I go deep into myself and get in touch with what I like and realize that if I really like it, if I’m passionate about it and it resonates with me, then there’s probably other people that it resonates with … I mean on a basic human level, and so if I can make something that does that, more than likely I’m going to make something that is going to touch other people,” he said.
In addition to the professional writers who were honored, Final Draft also introduced the winners of their Big Break screenwriting contest, including Jeff Cassidy, who won for his feature script Daisy’s Story, and Myles Reid, who won for his TV pilot Scattershot.
Diversity in the industry was a hot topic among the writers present, and Saracho, the creator and showrunner of the queer- and Latinx-themed Starz show Vida, told The Hollywood Reporter that the executives she worked with were very supportive of her desire for greater minority representation on her show.
“When I said I wanted an all-Latinx writers room, they said, ‘Yes, and—?’ All Latino directors this season: ‘Yes, and—?’ All female department heads, all female DPS, all female editors: ‘Yes, and—?’ So I feel very supported and I hope that it keeps going and they give me more seasons,” she said.
Khouri, who is perhaps most famous for writing the 1991 film Thelma and Louise, as well as creating the television show Nashville, admitted in her acceptance speech that she overcame feeling unworthy of her success, despite her accomplishments.“You’re not a fraud if you mean what you say, and you’re trying to tell the truth and if you love with your whole heart the characters you create and the people who see themselves in those characters,” she said. “So I guess I’m going to relieve myself of feeling like a fraud and accept this honor with gratitude and humbly and with my whole heart.”
Following the show, guests poured into the theater’s courtyard, where they were treated to a buffet featuring Wagyu beef sliders, BBQ chicken pizza and crudites.
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