Richard Curtis, one of the industry’s greatest humanitarians and one of its most gifted writers of romantic comedies, will be this year’s recipient of the WGA West’s Valentine Davies Award in recognition of his charitable and humanitarian endeavors. His writing credits include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually – which he also directed – and Bridget Jones’ Diary. His charitable efforts include serving as vice-chair of Comic Relief, which he co-founded in 1985 after visiting Ethiopia during the devastating famine of the 1980s.
“Richard Curtis is an exemplar of empathy,” said WGA West president Howard A. Rodman. “He is not only one of our best screenwriters but a man who has used his gifts and his position to combat poverty and injustice. His work resonates strongly on the screen, and his charitable efforts have transformed the lives of the thousands upon thousands of refugees and children in need worldwide.”
In 1988, Comic Relief launched its Red Nose Day fundraising initiative to combat child poverty, including a live TV broadcast for the BBC. Since then, Curtis has produced more than 15 live nights of television – and Red Nose Day has raised more than £1 billion ($1.25 billion) for projects in the UK and around the world. In 2015, he launched Red Nose Day in the U.S., which included a live telecast on NBC, raising over $23 million. Red Nose Day returned to the U.S. in 2016 and raised another $34 million.
Curtis also was a founding member of Make Poverty History, an international coalition focusing on issues related to aid, trade and justice. Working on this global initiative, he partnered with Bob Geldof to organize 2005’s landmark Live 8 benefit concerts, held two decades after 1985’s historic Live Aid concerts to aid Africa. As part of his contribution to the MPH campaign, he wrote The Girl in the Café for HBO and the BBC – a drama based around the G8 Summit that won three Emmys and a Humanitas Price.
In 2007, he produced Idol Gives Back, a collaboration between American Idol and the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund, which in its first year raised more than $70 million for American and African projects. That same year, he received BAFTA’s Academy Fellowship Award – its highest honor – and in 2008, he received BAFTA’s Humanitarian Award for his prodigious charitable activities.
In 2012, he wrote Mary and Martha, a story about two mothers who are inspired by the deaths of their sons to fight malaria in Africa, which has been shown in 50 countries around the world and used as a campaigning tool by many organizations committed to ending malaria.
In 2014, he founded Project Everyone. Working with the United Nations, it helped launch and promote the Global Goals for Sustainable Development to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and combat climate change. Last year, he was appointed a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate along with 16 others, including Forest Whitaker and Shakira.
He made his directorial debut with the 2003 hit romantic comedy, Love Actually, which also earned him Golden Globe nomination for best screenplay. For writing 1994’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, he received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and won both WGA and Writers Guild of Great Britain screenplay awards. His other writing credits include Notting Hill, Pirate Radio, About Time, Bean and the Steven Spielberg-directed War Horse.
The Valentine Davis Award will be presented to Curtis at the WGA Awards ceremony on February 19. Past recipients include Norman Lear, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Ben Affleck, Neal Baer, Tom Schulman, Susannah Grant, Phil Rosenthal, Sam Simon and John August.
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