As a child growing up Newburyport, Nikole Beckwith was nurtured by the city’s talented resident pool of actors and artists to pursue her passion for acting and playwriting.
It was here, among her close network of friends and mentors from the Theater in the Open acting troupe and other local ensembles, that the talented teen was encouraged to take her deep observations on life and the human experience to the next level.
Now, on the heels of winning a coveted $35,000 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowship award in screenwriting for her script, “Stockholm, Pennsylvania,” Beckwith, 32, is crediting that same network of friends for providing the inspiration that’s still fueling her today.
“They’re so much a part of why I am what I am and why I’m doing what I’m doing,” Beckwith said. “As a community, and as artists, we were so tightly bound — always inspiring each other and pushing each other and laughing with each other. Everything I write and everything I do has them inside of it.”
Beckwith, who moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2005, was notified in October that her script had emerged a winner from thousands of entries, making her one of only 166 writers to have received the award since it was created in 1986.
There are five fellowships offered each year by the academy, given with the hope of identifying and promoting new screenwriting talent. Winners are required to complete a full-length feature film during the course of their yearlong fellowship.
For Beckwith, whose script was a first attempt at film writing after a career focused completely on writing plays, she’s overjoyed to be offered such an opportunity.
“It has been a real whirlwind since I got the fellowship,” Beckwith said.
Beckwith said she entered the competition as a way to test her ideas to see if they transferred from her primary medium of playwriting to another. Since it was her first time writing a movie script, she told only a few people what she doing. But as her script — an adapted play she’d written a year earlier — continued progressing to successive rounds in the competition, she shared her news with thrilled friends and family.