The organization Humanitas has named the screenwriters of two films and one television series from 21st Century Fox as finalists for its 42nd Annual Humanitas Prize, a prestigious award honoring projects that contain effective social messaging and inspire compassion, hope and understanding. Among this year’s nominees are Nate Parker for Fox Searchlight’s The Birth of a Nation, Theodore Melfi & Allison Schroeder for Fox 2000’s Hidden Figures and Dan Fogelman for the pilot episode of This Is Us, produced by 20th Century Fox Television. The winners will be announced at a luncheon in Los Angeles on February 22.
“Great stories can play an essential role in people’s lives by reminding us of our common humanity and motivating us to be our best selves,” said Ali LeRoi, Humanitas President. “Many of the extraordinary works by this year’s finalists touch on issues of inclusion, equality and tolerance, ideas that are of particular importance in today’s conflict-ridden world.”
Parker, Schroeder, Melfi and Fogelman are among the 32 total writers nominated for this year’s award, all of whom will compete for $100,000 in prize money spread across nine categories. Hidden Figures was nominated in the Feature Film category, The Birth of a Nation in the Sundance Feature Film category and This Is Us in the 60-Minute television category.
“We received a huge number of worthy submissions this year, which made narrowing the field down to these exceptional finalists especially challenging — and rewarding,” said Humanitas Executive Director Cathleen Young. “These were truly the best of the best, writers whose work engaged, illuminated, inspired and entertained, all while exploring the range of human experience from fresh and diverse perspectives. Or as Humanitas founder Father Bud Keiser put it, works that ‘tackle the big questions…and challenge us to seek out our own answers.’”
The Birth of a Nation follows the life of Nat Turner, who was born into slavery in Virginia and went on to lead a slave revolt in the state in 1831, and This Is Us is a new drama featuring an ensemble of characters who all share the same birthday. Hidden Figures tells the untold story of three female African American mathematicians who played crucial roles in the 1960s Space Race, including John Glenn’s historic orbit around the Earth. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae and has become a rallying cry for diversity in STEM, screening at the White House in December and serving as the basis for the Search for Hidden Figures scholarship contest last fall.
Since its founding in 1974, the Humanitas Prize has awarded more than $3 million to film and television writers. Previous Fox winners include Jesse Andres for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave, Alex Gansa and Meredith Stiehm for Homeland, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild, Ryan Murphy for Glee, David Shore for House, and Elaine Ko and Steve Levitan for Modern Family.
Learn more about the Humanitas Prize and view the full list of this year’s finalists.