Tate Taylor to receive WGA's Paul Selvin Award

Posted by · 1:36 pm · January 31st, 2012

After a strong showing for “The Help” at Sunday night”s Screen Actors Guild Awards, the film is set to receive another boon on its way to Oscar night. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced that it will honor writer/director Tate Taylor with the 2012 Paul Selvin Award, which recognizes “written work that embodies the spirit of constitutional rights and civil liberties,” according to the press release.

“Tate Taylor”s adapted screenplay for ‘The Help’ artfully distills the empowering essence and core emotional truths of Kathryn Stockett”s novel, translating it into a film that forcefully illustrates how ordinary people can impact positive social change,” said WGAw president Christopher Keyser. “Tate”s honor is well deserved and his script does Paul Selvin”s legacy proud by conveying the continuing power of the written word.”

Said Taylor of the project, “In adapting ‘The Help,’ I was keenly aware of the many heroes from such a tumultuous time in American history, as well as the heroes that continue to fight for human rights today. But to me, ordinary heroes such as Aibileen and Minny are often the ones we find most relatable and empowered by. After all, the ordinary hero hiding in each of us is often the most powerful catalyst for change.”

Taylor did receive a WGA nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, but despite its four Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture and three acting notices), he has been largely kept outside the awards conversation for the film.

It”s always struck me as somewhat understandable (given that “The Help” represents his feature film debut) but too bad that Taylor has not received more attention this season. He was the film’s champion before the manuscript for the book was complete, after all.

The connection between Taylor and Stockett makes for a good story and speaks to his intimate connection with the material. The director convinced his childhood friend to allow him to option the rights to her book by communicating his passion and insisting that no one else would serve her work, or their hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, as well as he would.

They shared experiences growing up together in the South that were reminiscent of the tales she weaved in her novel. The author modeled one of her main characters, Minny, after Taylor”s then roommate Octavia Spencer who, as we know, went on to play her in the film. This truly was a family affair with Taylor at the center of bringing all the pieces together. As such, it”s nice to see him get a little bit of his own due.

The 2012 WGA Awards will take place on Sunday, February 19 at the Hollywood Palladium.

Previous Selvin Award recipients include Eric Roth, Michael Mann, Jason Horwitch, Don Payne, Robert Eisele & Jeffrey Porro, Dustin Lance Black, Anthony Peckham, and, most recently, Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth.

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