#WyoStrong: CWC alumna named semi-finalist for prestigious fellowship

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The 2020-2021 semi-finalists for HUMANITAS’ Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Screenwriting Fellowship were announced this week. One of the twenty projects selected includes Central Wyoming College alumna Connie O’Donahue’s historical drama television series The Education of Kady.

“It’s an honor to represent Central Wyoming College in such a prestigious contest and against such strong competition (USC, UCLA, Tisch, LMU, AFI to name just a few),” Connie shared with County 10. “Regardless of whether or not I’m chosen for the fellowship, I’m so proud and appreciative of CWC and its incredible Film and Screenwriting programs. There’s no other opportunity in Wyoming to learn hands-on about careers in the film and television industry. Professor Nielsen’s real-world experience made the classes interesting and a lot of fun, and he is genuinely invested in his students’ success.”

HUMANITAS is a nonprofit based in California that has been honoring and empowering film and television writers for over 45 years. The Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Screenwriting Fellowship was created in 2017, according to the HUMANITAS website. “The Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Fellowship exists to recognize and reward the talents of young writers with financial support to empower them to tell meaningful stories.”

The Education of Kady is set in Texarkana at the height of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl in the late 1930s, Connie explained. “The series follows a young German Jewish immigrant as he gathers the life stories and recollections of former slaves as part of the WPA’s Federal Writers Project. After arriving in town he finds an ally in a recently widowed single mother who is on the verge of losing her farm to the dust and the drought. The script incorporates excerpts from the Slave Narratives Collection (housed at the Library of Congress) to tell the stories of actual former slaves in their own words. The series explores issues such as bigotry, racial inequality in education, and the Jim Crow laws that systematically denied freedmen and women the rights that most of us take for granted. It might be described as Places In The Heart meets Mudbound.”

Connie plans to attend UCLA in the fall to complete her MFA in Screenwriting. She would eventually like to become a screenwriting professor herself while pursuing writing jobs with the help of her talent manager in Los Angeles, Myra Model. In the meantime, she is putting her “CWC Film degree to good use working as a script reader/analyst and as a judge for several screenwriting contests and film festivals.”

Fellowship finalists will be announced in the coming weeks. One winner will eventually be selected to receive a $20,000 prize and honors at the HUMANITAS awards gala next year.

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