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Geoffrey Fletcher: Making history

The ‘Precious’ writer becomes the first African-American to win Best Adapted Screenplay

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An African-American had never won a screenwriting Oscar. This year’s award was truly Precious.

When Geoffrey Fletcher’s name was called in the Kodak Theatre Sunday night as the winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay category, no one was more surprised than the 39-year-old writer-director, who has toiled anonymously in the movie business for 17 years, supplementing his income with teaching gigs at Columbia and NYU. ”When I walked into the theater, I was at peace with the idea that my name would not be called,” says Fletcher, a Harvard grad who wrote the first 15 pages of Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire for director Lee Daniels on spec. ”Lee said I was the person for the job. His interest was so immediate that I was wary. Only after I had finished adapting it did I hear what people really had thought: that the book was unadaptable.” With his win, Fletcher became the first African-American ever to nab a screenwriting Oscar. Says Daniels, ”I told him he was going to make history. He executed my dream to perfection.”