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Skye Emerson's Challenger Wins Fresh Voices Grand Prize Award

Women reigned victorious at the 2018-19 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition this week with an all-star group of talented female writers dominating both the Drama and Family Film Categories. Leading them all, it was Skye Emerson's historical drama, CHALLENGER, that wowed the jury and took home the Grand Prize Award. The screenplay also received Spotlight Awards for Best Role Written for A Female Lead and the Fresh Voices Culture & Heritage Award.

A prolific and accomplished writer, Skye received her MFA from UCLA's School of Theater, Film & Television just last year. She was most recently selected to the 2019 Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive Program and awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Challenger tells the story of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, as told through the eyes of American astrophysicist and space pioneer Sally Ride, who after becoming America's first woman in space and America's youngest astronaut ever, was later appointed to the investigative commission to determine the cause of one of America's greatest space tragedies never told!

The script excels in many ways, as a tragic and true reminder of America's space program, as a court room drama, as a faithful biopic, as a story of love and romance and an LGBTQ story for the #metoo era about a heroic, steadfast woman who shattered the glass ceiling and fought for truth and for what she believed in a male dominated industry.

The story offers a strong female lead that will not only appeal to top tier talent, but a role that will inspire an entire generation of women to break free of the constraint's society may place upon them and to aspire to great new heights.

Upon receiving the Award and the $3,000 Cash Prize, Skye said, "I've always been drawn to strong woman of diverse backgrounds, and Sally's journey has long been one I've wanted to put into a screenplay. This is a relatively new script for me, and so that it has been received so positively really validates my belief and my work to bring Sally's story to life. I am honored and thrilled by this recognition as a diverse voice with an important story to tell. It means the world to me to have Fresh Voices champion my work and support me as a writer."

Handing out the award, Chairman of the Competition Joel Mendoza explained, "this script highlights a significant cultural and historical event that defined a generation, particularly children like me, that were in elementary school at the time, watching the events unfold with my class and teachers. This was an American tragedy that demands the big screen treatment. The way Skye has chosen to frame and tell this story is wholly engaging as much as it is inspiring. By focusing the story and the events from the perspective of Sally Ride, we are expertly guided through this uplifting hero's journey by Skye's deft and confident hand."

Grand Prize Winner
Winner Challenger by Skye Emerson


Action/ Adventure
Winner Roller Baby by J.D. Smith
Honorable Mention Boundary Waters by Joann Buckley-Collins
Honorable Mention Extrajudicial by Craig Bealer

Comedy/ Romantic-Comedy
Winner A Sonnet for Ms. Pine by Andy Wertner
Honorable Mention Nancy Girl by David McMahon
Honorable Mention The Twenty-Third of Lonliness by Shonnie Jackson

Drama/ Period/ Historical/ Biopic
Winner Challenger by Skye Emerson
Honorable Mention A Suspect In Arms by Selcen Onsan
Honorable Mention Perfect Lover by Joyce Rheuban

Family/ Animated/ Musical
Winner Steel Cutter by Claire Tran
Honorable Mention Kaylee, Age 8 by Molly Coffee
Honorable Mention Hero of the World by Staci Greason & Linda Hill

Science-Fiction/ Fantasy
Winner Maya by Rohit Gill
Honorable Mention Junk by Douglas Mallette
Honorable Mention Conquist by Dirk Strasser

Thriller/ Horror
Winner Feeder by Justin Hurt
Honorable Mention Monochrome by Chloë J. Hightower
Honorable Mention Lattice of Coincidence by Devin Lucas

Short Script
Winner Cicada by George Aggelidis
Honorable Mention Underpaint by Anna Hopkins
Honorable Mention Gay Girl, Superhero by Diana York

1 Hr TV Pilot
Winner Carpetbaggers by Matt Thomas
Honorable Mention In Chambers by Carolyn Kras
Honorable Mention The Ax Man by Ryan Little

1/2 Hr TV Pilot
Winner Jack to Reality by Andy Knuth
Honorable Mention The Great Gay Hope by JB Berg
Honorable Mention That Sister Thang by Lindiwe Mueller-Westernhagen & Dale Winton

TV Writing Sample
Winner Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Pee Tape by Jason Hirschel
Honorable Mention Sneaky Pete: Face Time by Alexander Berger
Honorable Mention Big Little Lies: Episode #8 by Peter Haig

Best Role For A Leading Man
Perfect Lover by Joyce Rheuban

Best Role For A Leading Woman
Challenger by Skye Emerson

Best Ensemble Cast
Stupid B**** by Anthony Filangeri

Best Dialogue
A Sonnet for Ms. Pine by Andy Wertner

Best First 10 Pages
Perfect Lover By Joyce Rheuban

Culture & Heritage Award
Challenger by Skye Emerson

Diversity & Inclusion Award
Steel Cutter by Claire Tran

Humanitarian Award
A Suspect In Arms by Selcen Onsan

Courage & Fortitude award
Cicada by George Aggelidis

Updated: 04/12/2019
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Additional Contest Info: Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition