Columbia University School of the Arts Film Alumnus Wins Pulitzer Prize for Drama

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Ayad Akhtar
New York, NY, April 18, 2013—Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program graduate Ayad Akhtar (’02) has won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, for his play Disgraced.

“We are thrilled for Ayad,” said Carol Becker, Dean of Faculty. “His achievement speaks to the level of writing coming out of the School of the Arts—crossing forms and disciplines.”

The prize for drama is awarded to a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life. Disgraced tells the story of a successful corporate lawyer painfully forced to consider why he has camouflaged his Pakistani Muslim heritage for so long.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Ayad’s achievements since he graduated from our program,” said Film Program Chair, Ira Deutchman. “As a writer, director and actor, he has proven himself to be a true renaissance man.”

The other finalists nominated in the Drama category were Rapture, Blister, Burn, by Gina Gionfriddo, and 4000 Miles, by Amy Herzog. This year’s judges were Peter Marks, drama critic for The Washington Post, Princeton Professor Jill Dolan, critics John Fleming and Alexis Soloski, and former Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies.

Last year, Columbia School of the Arts graduate Tracy K. Smith (’97) won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book Life on Mars, and School of the Arts graduate Karen Russell (’06) was a finalist for the Fiction Prize.

Ayad Akhtar’s plays include The Invisible Hand (Repertory Theater of St Louis). He also is the author of American Dervish, a novel published by Little, Brown & Co. He co-wrote and starred in The War Within (Magnolia Pictures), released internationally and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay. And he starred in HBO's adaptation of Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail, as Neel Karhkaril. Ayad Akhtar studied at Brown University and Columbia University's School of the Arts.

Prizes will be awarded at a luncheon on the Columbia University Morningside campus in May.
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.