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Sunday Spotlight: Meet the Princess Grace Award winning Playwrights


Welcome to our “Sunday Spotlight” series, where we recognize many of the incredible artists who have been awarded by the Princess Grace Foundation-USA.

This week, we are delighted to introduce you to some of our renowned Princess Grace Award-winning Playwrights. These powerful storytellers often work in a variety of genres - from live theatre to film and television, demonstrating the broad scope of their unique talents. The Princess Grace Award in Playwriting offers a residency at New Dramatists - one of America’s leading playwright centers and new play laboratories - where some of the world’s most acclaimed playwrights have passed through the hallowed doors including Paula Vogel, Tarrell Alvin McCraney, Suzan-Lori Parks, Annie Baker, August Wilson… and of course the Princess Grace Award-winning playwrights. The Princess Grace Foundation is proud to partner with our long-time friends at New Dramatists to support theater’s voices of tomorrow..

The Princess Grace Foundation-USA is dedicated to upholding the legacy of Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, (neé Grace Kelly) and elevating extraordinary emerging artists in theater, dance and film through career-advancing grants. Through annual unrestricted support, the Princess Grace Awards program recognizes creative generators (animators, theater directors, designers, playwrights, choreographers, filmmakers, etc.) and performance-based creatives (actors, dancers, etc.).

Applications for the Princess Grace Awards 2021 are now closed. The new class of 2021 Princess Grace Award winners will be announced in July 2021!


Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Playwright 2009



MacArthur Genius and Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2016 and 2018, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has penned some of the 21st century’s most important and iconic plays. As an artist Branden engages and challenges his audience to engage with complicated issues around identity, family, class and race. His first play, Neighbors premiered at the Public Theater in 2010, but a year before he made his “public” debut, the Princess Grace Foundation supported Branden with the Playwriting Fellowship.



Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's "Appropriate" at the Signature Theatre.

Upcoming: In 2021 Branden will curate a reading and lecture series for Playwrights Horizon’s Lighthouse series, and while we await the return of live theatre and the opportunity to see Branden’s work onstage, watch the Watchmen on HBO and see his impact as a Consulting Producer.



Erika Dickerson-Despenza

Playwright 2019

Blk, queer feminist poet-playwright and cultural-memory worker from Chicago, Illinois, Erika Dickerson-Despenza is the Foundation’s most recent Playwright Award winner and she has already made an impact in the theater community. A 2021 Susan Blackburn Prize Finalist and recipient of a 2020 Lilly Award, Erika’s play Cullud Wattah was set to have its world premiere at the Public Theatre in 2020. While that work is on-hold until live performances are possible once again, Erika is continuing work on her 10-play Katrina Cycle, which includes shadow/land and [hieroglyph], focused on the effects of Hurricane Katrina and its state sanctioned, man-made disaster. The Princess Grace Foundation celebrates successes and looks forward to continuing to be part of her artistic journey.

Erika Dickerson-Despenza at the Princess Grace Awards Gala

Upcoming: The Public Theater will premiere the audio play of shadow/land beginning on April 13. Follow Erika @blkplaywright and see her work Cullud Wattah at the Public Theatre when live theatre resumes.



Bridget Carpenter

Playwright 1996

Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Westworld, 11.22.63. These are some of the most beloved and iconic television series in this golden age of television, and Bridget Carpenter has been in the writer’s room as a writer and showrunner for all of them. A playwright, screenwriter and producer, Bridget - Bridget has been in the writers room - and been the showrunner - for some of this generation’s most beloved and iconic television series. The Princess Grace Foundation has proud to be in the room with Bridget and part of her “story” since 1996 when she received her Playwriting Fellowship with New Dramatists.


Parenthood episode "Clear Skies From Here On Out"

Catch up on Bridget’s work and watch Friday Night Lights, Parenthood and 11.22.63


Kara Lee Corthran

Playwright 2008

Kara Lee Corthron is a playwright, author, and TV writer based in Los Angeles. A master of storytelling, her latest novel, Daughters of Jubilation, debuted in October 2020 and Shondaland called it “One of the most unique novels you will pick up all year.” In addition to writing for stage, Kara has joined the writers rooms for YOU, Servant and The Flight Attendant. The Princess Grace Foundation has been honored to support Kara and her artistic journey since 2008.



Netflix Series You Season 2, Episode 8, “Fear and Loathing in Beverly Hills”

Watch her work in YOU (Netflix), (Seasons 2 and 3), Servant (Season 3); The Flight Attendant


Interested in learning more about all of our Award Winners?

Visit us at www.pgfusa.org/award-winners


Coming up next Sunday: "Meet the Princess Grace Award Winning Dancers"


Photo Credits: Getty, Princess Grace Foundation-USA, Vogue , American Theatre , Victory Gardens Theater , MTI, TVOvermind , Theatre Washington, Ready Steady Cut

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