The Promising Young Woman scribe is the first woman to win Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars since 2008

By Salina Tsegai
April 25, 2021 08:55 PM
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Emerald Fennell
Emerald Fennell
| Credit: Chris Pizzelo-Pool/Getty

Emerald Fennell is a winner at the Academy Awards!

The Promising Young Woman scribe took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, beating out Will Berson and Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah), Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Darius Marder and Abraham Marder (Sound of Metal), and Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7). She is the first woman to take home the trophy in the category in 13 years.

"They said write a speech and I didn't because just I didn't think this would ever happen. Am I going to be in trouble with Steven Soderbergh? I'm so sorry, I don't want him to be so cross with me," she joked. (Soderbergh is the producer of the ceremony this year.)

"The only speech I ever wrote was when I was 10 and I had a look to see if there would be anything useful from it but unfortunately I mostly thanked Zack Morris from Saved By the Bell. He was my very first husband," she joked. "Unfortunately, he hasn't been a part of my life as much as I had hoped so that speech is not that useful. But all I can say is — I'm trying very hard not to cry, which is very difficult as an English person, because I don't cry ever — this film was made by the most incredible people in the world."

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on the 2021 Oscars. 

Fennell went on to thank the "greatest" cast and crew, including star Carey Mulligan, for helping make the film possible. She also gave her son a special shoutout, joking that she was thankful that he was not born until after the movie was done filming.

"Steven I hope that was alright," she concluded.

(L to R) Actor Carey Mulligan, writer / director Emerald Fennell, actor Laverne Cox, and actor Bo Burnham on the set of PROMSING YOUNG WOMAN
Credit: Merie Weismiller Wallace / Focus Features

This is Fennell's first Oscar win of the night — she is also up for Best Director, and the film is up for Best Picture. 

Promising Young Woman is the Killing Eve showrunner's first feature film, with her and Nomadland's Chloé Zhao making history as the first two women to both be nominated for Best Director in the same year. Promising Young Woman tells the story of Cassie (Mulligan), who seeks revenge after her best friend is sexually assaulted and murdered.

"I had been thinking a lot about rage, particularly the ways that rage manifests itself in women," Fennell said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter

The 35-year-old British filmmaker said the core of the film comes from the rage women feel, yet rarely show on the outside.

"Emerald always talked about the movie being a beautifully wrapped piece of candy," Mulligan told THR, "except when you open it and put it in your mouth, you realize it's full of poison."

Fennell said the movie was intended to be watched and discussed communally, and expected audiences to contend with the difficult scenes on screen after watching it. 

"I hope they talk about it with people afterward," says Fennell. "But I'd just be delighted if they watched it at all."

The 93rd Academy Awards are airing live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.