Michaela Coel awarded prestigious Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship

The fellowship is a major annual award, in partnership with the BFI and Film4, exploring the intersection between screenwriting and science.

Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel
Credit: Suki Dhanda

Award-winning screenwriter, playwright, actress and poet Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum) has received the 2017 Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship, presented by the Wellcome Trust in partnership with BFI and Film4.

The fellowship carries an award of £30,000 together with a year-long tailored experience, including unparalleled access to some of the most exciting scientific and humanities research in the world.

Selected from over 100 names nominated by the film and television industries, the award is made in recognition of Coel’s remarkable screenwriting talent and distinctive approach to exploring the human condition.

“This fellowship couldn’t have come at a better time,” says Coel. “While retaining my individual identity as a writer, my next project will take me on a journey of discovery about brain chemistry, cognitive error, and memory, by the end of which I will undoubtedly have learned to create stories in ways that are currently foreign to me.

“At Wellcome I’ll be able to talk to experts about the diagnosis of personality disorders, cognitive patterns, how they’re formed and myriad other things. I’m very grateful to have been chosen for this year, and can’t wait to get going.”

Now in its fifth year, the fellowship is celebrated as a major annual award, which explores the intersection between screenwriting and science. The legacy of the programme is witnessed by the impact upon the work of previous fellows particularly Sally Wainwright and Clio Barnard.

Last year’s fellowship was awarded to TV screenwriter Sally Wainwright. During the year she has completed the scripts for the eight-part BBC and HBO drama Gentleman Jack, about 19th-century Yorkshire landowner and prolific diarist Anne Lister, who had a passion for science and medicine.

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