The 73rd annual awards ceremony was the first ever of its kind.
After a year unlike any other, the Writers Guilds West and East accomplished another first: staging a joint, virtual ceremony to honor outstanding achievement in writing for film, TV, new media, news, radio/audio, and promotional categories. Accordingly, the show’s theme was “Unity,” because as host Kal Penn said in his opening monologue, “You can’t spell ‘UNITY’ without, what? U-N-I-O-N…plus a T…and a Y…and no O.”
The award for Original Screenplay went to Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman (Written by Emerald Fennell; Focus Features). “It’s such an enormous deal to me to even be a member of the Guild,” she said, “and to be nominated alongside such exquisite writers.” The writers of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm received the Adapted Screenplay award (Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern, Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Nina Pedrad, Based on Characters Created by Sacha Baron Cohen; Amazon Studios). “A film like this is extremely hard to write, partly because it stars real people whose behavior is completely unpredictable,” said writer-actor-producer Sacha Baron Cohen. “Well, apart, of course, from Rudy Giuliani, who did everything we hoped for.”
Ted Lasso took home the awards in the Comedy and New Series categories (Written by Jane Becker, Leann Bowen, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly, Bill Lawrence, Jamie Lee, Jason Sudeikis, Phoebe Walsh, Bill Wrubel; Apple TV+). “Thank you very much for choosing us, for ticking that box, in the majority at least,” said actor-writer Jason Sudeikis. “I assume not everybody did, I mean, right? That’d be nuts.” The Crown was tapped for Drama Series (Written by Peter Morgan, Jonathan Wilson; Netflix). “Thank you to all my fellow members of the WGA,” said executive producer Peter Morgan, adding, “Congratulations to the WGA itself for a very successful year.”
In addition, Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas received the WGAW’s Paul Selvin Award for Judas and the Black Messiah (Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King, Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas; Warner Bros.). The Paul Selvin Award is given to the member or members whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere.
Other awards for long form, short form new media, animation, comedy/variety talk series, comedy/variety sketch series, quiz and audience participation, daytime drama, children’s, news script, radio/audio, and more were given. See the complete list of 2021 Writers Guild Awards winners.
Presenters for the ceremony included actor Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), writer-actor-producer Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), actress Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), writer-correspondent Jelani Cobb (Frontline), comedian-writer Sarah Cooper (How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings), actress and singer Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), actor Daveed Diggs (The Good Lord Bird), writer-producer Ava DuVernay (When They See Us), writer-late night host Jimmy Fallon (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon), actress and playwright Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah), writer-actor Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso), writer-actor Ryan O’Connell (Special), actor and singer Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami), writer-late night host Amber Ruffin (The Amber Ruffin Show), writer-late night host Lilly Singh (A Little Late with Lilly Singh), and writer-podcaster Baratunde Thurston (How To Citizen with Baratunde).
The 2021 Writers Guild Awards team included co-executive producers Bonnie Datt and Karen Harris, associate producer Shannon Walker, and head writer Ann Cohen, along with writers Bill Scheft, Don Hooper, Timothy Michael Cooper, Shelly Goldstein, Zoe Marshall, Andrea Whipple, and Kaja Martin. Directed by Heather Arnson, the show was executive produced by Broadway Virtual. Spearheaded by executive producer Jim Kierstead and creative director Heather Arnson, Broadway Virtual is an all-inclusive one-stop-shop for virtual production, direction, design, management, and promotion to effectively create quality virtual programming that elevates quality and exceeds expectations. The company’s technical director, Asad Javed, and production manager, Claudia Marino, round out the core team. Graphic design, branding, and social media promotion was provided by Rachel | Media.