When I say ‘our’, here, I am of course referring to screenwriters. TV writers, more precisely.  Oh, and internet writers. 

Let me back up for a little biography. 


You already know that Cord Jefferson won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for American Fiction, and that, as he has mentioned in his campaign all season long, nobody wanted to buy this movie, even when Jeffrey Wright was attached. 

And so, he did the impossible – not only selling the movie, not only proving it could be done, but winning! And then, on top of it all, this speech: 

After the most cursory thank yous to the Academy and the film’s cast & crew, he starts stumping for everyone else to have the opportunity that he had! “Why not make 20 $10M movies? Or 50 $4M movies?” 


This is where you realize this is a truly special person. Imagine winning an award that so few people get anywhere near – and using your moment of glory to try to help others. Imagine having the presence of mind to say, “Let other people get where I am.” 

You realize he’s special when you look at his career. This is a man who was a writer at Gawker until his first screenwriting credit TEN YEARS AGO. A blogger, then a writer with relatively junior credits – albeit on great shows like Master of None and The Good Place – and then this movie, his first feature, with no track record, and he wins an Oscar? That’s an unreal trajectory. 

But then I learned something else that made all the pieces come together, and me feel like Columbo. Our own beloved Kathleen, now of R29 Unbothered, has met Jefferson several times, and says he always remembers her, calls her by name, and looks at everyone, no matter who, as though they’re the only person in the room.  That’s rare enough in general, but in crowded, neck-craning showbiz parties? Unheard of. 


So it all comes together – the guy who’s not only a great writer and satirist is also a seemingly nice person, who “worked hard not to be vindictive anymore”, and is committed to depictions of Black lives onscreen that aren’t commonly seen? And who wants to further the careers of his peers? Yeah, sorry, we’re gonna carry him on our shoulders until further notice. 


Oh, and it also got his cast a bunch of nominations and acclaim, so there’s that, too. I can’t think too much about how generous and high achieving this dude appears to be or I’ll have comparative paralysis forever. 

But honestly, writers are both idealistic and cynical – the idea that this could be the real deal? It’s enough to keep a lot of us going for a long time.