Academy Award-winning writer, director, and actress Emerald Fennell is awarded the Hay Festival Medal for Drama today (Saturday 5 June) at Hay Festival 2021. Fennell is the third recipient of a Hay Festival Medal for 2021, with poet Benjamin Zephaniah (Medal for Poetry), and journalist and activist George Monbiot (Medal for Journalism) already awarded their medals.
Awarded annually since Britain’s Olympic year in 2012, Hay Festival Medals draw inspiration from the original Olympic medal given for poetry. With Athena as muse, silversmith Christopher Hamilton crafts the medals locally.
Fennell, writer, director, and producer of Promising Young Woman, is the first British woman to win the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award since it was established in its current form in 1958. Her directorial debut also won the WGA Award for Original Screenplay and two BAFTA Awards for Outstanding British Film and Best Original Screenplay, among many other accolades. She earned two Primetime Emmy Award nominations as head writer on season 2 of the BBC thriller series Killing Eve. She is also known for appearing in front of the camera, including playing Patsy in BBC drama Call the Midwife and Camilla Parker-Bowles in Netflix's The Crown, for which she received a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Fennell said: “Thank you to the wonderful Hay Festival for this incredible honour. The only other medal I have ever received was a plastic one for winning an arm wrestle at school against a boy half my size, so this is a decided step up. Very sad we can’t all be there in person and looking forward to a time when the festival can be live again. Huge thanks!”
Hay Festival artist manager Heather Salisbury said: “Since Emerald Fennell was last with us in Hay, to discuss her children's book Monsters, she's become a leading light in British drama, winning universal acclaim (and an Oscar) for her directorial debut, Promising Young Woman, a prescient piece of filmmaking that has cemented her status as a world class storyteller. We're delighted to celebrate her work at this year's Festival with our Medal for Drama.”
Hay Festival 2021 started on Wednesday 26 May, bringing writers and readers together for an inspiring array of conversations, debates, workshops, and performances online. Over the past 11 days, more than 300 acclaimed writers, global policy makers, historians, poets, pioneers, and innovators have taken part, launching the best new fiction and non-fiction and interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time, from building a better world post-pandemic to tackling the compound crises of climate change, inequality, and challenges to truth and democracy.
Festivalgoers can register for the final free events now at hayfestival.org/wales.