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Renee Pillai Is The First Malaysian To Win An Oscars-Governed Grant In Screenwriting

Congratulations Renee!

Cover image via Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting EmpireOnline FeelGood Movie

Renee Pillai is the first Malaysian to win the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Renee Pillai with her Oscar-Governed Grant.

Image via AMPAS

On 7 November 2019, Renee had won the annual screenwriting competition with her film script, Boy With Kite.

She is one of five winners whose submission beat out over 7,300 scripts from all over the world.


Left to right: Karen McDermott, Aaron Chung, Walker McKnight, Renee Pillai, and Sean Malcolm.

Image via Jonathan Landrum Jr./Northwest Asian Weekly

The five screenplays selected were:

- Aaron Chung's Princess Vietnam,
- Karen McDermott's Lullabies of La Jaula,
- Renee Pillai's Boy With Kite, 
- Sean Malcolm's Mother, and
- Walter McKnight's Street Rat Allie Punches Her Ticket.

She received a total of USD35,000 (RM143,000) as prize money from The Academy, the same people who give out the Oscars

According to The Star, winning a Nicholl Fellowship is seen as a launchpad to screenwriting careers in an almost nearly impossible Hollywood landscape.

Renee had tried submitting other scripts for the Nicholl Fellowship but was unsuccessful. She previously only managed to beat 10% out of 700 scripts submitted.

But with Boy With Kite she won! 

Renee Pillai giving her acceptance speech.

Image via AMPAS

Renee Pillai's Boy With Kite is currently in the early stages of making it to the big screen

Boy With Kite tells the story of a 50-year-old woman who has to take care of her 10-year-old nephew after her brother, whom she hasn’t spoken to in years, passes away. The setting of the story is set in Nebraska.

In an interview with The Star, Renee had said she has never been to Nebraska. She thinks that's where the beauty of telling stories comes in. It is not tied down to the colour of her skin.

Watch her acceptance speech here:

We Malaysians are proud of you, Renee Pillai!

Image via GIPHY

Here are other Malaysians who are making a name for themselves globally:

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