EXCLUSIVE: Vanessa Taylor, nominated for an Oscar this year for co-writing with Guillermo del Tor the Best Picture nominee The Shape of Water, has found her next project. She has been set to adapt Hillbilly Elegy, the movie based on J.D. Vance’s New York Times bestseller Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Ron Howard is directing the pic and producing with his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer, who pursued the rights along with Imagine president Erica Huggins to come out on top in a heated auction last April. Huggins will also produce.

The memoir, which has been a bestseller for 74 weeks and made several best-of-2016 lists, is a powerful account of growing up in the Rust Belt and a personal analysis of the white underclass, race and privilege in America. Vance, raised poor among working-class “hillbillies,” explores his childhood and family struggles as they navigate through drug addiction, and social and economic challenges. Supported by his larger-than-life grandmother, he developed a deep appreciation for education that laid the foundation for him to rise out of poverty and its cultural restraints.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Vanessa for years, and followed her as she explored a wide range of worlds — from Game of Thrones to The Shape of Water,” Huggins said. “Her background brings a fresh perspective and unique sensibility to the material, and I couldn’t be happier to finally team
up on a project so timely and special.”

Taylor, a writer and co-producer on HBO’s epic Game of Thrones, also penned Divergent and Hope Springs. She started her career writing for TV with credits including Alias, Everwood and Tell Me You Love Me, and she co-created The WB’s Jack & Bobby.

She’s repped by ICM Partners, Management 360 and Ziffren, Brittenham.