The award marked the first Oscar win for Fennell, who became the first woman in 13 years to win the best original screenplay honor. Diablo Cody won the writing award in 2007 for the Michael Cera and Elliot Page rom-com Juno.
Upon receiving the honor from One Night In Miami helmer Regina King, Fennell first apologized for not writing a speech, before revisiting one she penned when she was 10 years old.
“That speech is not that useful but all I can say is this film was made by the most incredible people in the world who made it in 23 days and brought their complete genius and love and humor to it,” she said.
Fennell, who made her directorial debut with the Mulligan-starring film, also thanked her leading lady, her family and more specifically her newborn son, for their support and patience throughout the filmmaking process. She noted that she gave birth to her son after the completing the film.
“Thank god because I was crossing my legs all the way through,” she added.
Promising Young Woman follows Mulligan’s Cassie, a young college dropout whose life has been scarred by a mysterious trauma that claimed the life of her best friend, Nina. Cassie’s unusual means of seeking revenge takes her to bars and clubs, where she poses as an incapacitated drunk—then turns the tables on the predatory men who try to take advantage of her. The film also featured Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Sam Richardson, and Molly Shannon.
Fennell’s film bested fellow best original screenplay nominees Trial of The Chicago 7, Sound of Metal, Minari and Judas and the Black Messiah.
Prior to Sunday night, Fennell took home the best original screenplay and outstanding British Film of the Year at the 2021 BAFTAs. Promising Young Woman was up for a total of five categories including best picture, best lead actress and best editing.
Backstage Fennell talked about the future of British film and her pride of being part of the United Kingdom filmmaker community. She also said that she hopes to explore even more “glossy and feminine” films like Promising Young Woman that tackle “difficult and dark subject matter” in the future.
The 93rd annual Academy Awards aired on ABC on Sunday. See Fennell’s full acceptance speech above and her backstage clip below.