Tucson-born Cord Jefferson wins Oscar for 'American Fiction'

Cord Jefferson arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Tucson-born Cord Jefferson won an Academy Award Sunday for best adapted screenplay for writing “American Fiction,” his first film.

Jefferson also directed the film. That was a first for him too.

“I’ve been talking a lot about how many people passed on this movie in discussing it, and I worry that sometimes that sounds vindictive,” Jefferson said while accepting the award Sunday.

“I don’t want to be vindictive. I’m not a vindictive person anymore, I’ve worked very hard not to be vindictive anymore.”

“It’s more a plea, a plea to acknowledge and recognize that there are so many people out there who want the opportunity that I was given. I understand that this is a risk-averse industry — I get it,” he continued.

“But $200 million movies are also a risk, you know, and it doesn’t always work out. But you take the risk anyway,” he said. “Instead of making one $200 million movie, try making 20 $10 million movies, or 50 $4 million movies.”

“Thank you for trusting a 40-year-old Black guy who’d never directed anything before,” Jefferson said.

He wrote the screenplay after reading Percival Everett’s satirical novel “Erasure,” Jefferson told the Star in a January interview. The novel is about a Black author’s attempt to mock the publishing world by writing a hyper-stereotypical “ghetto novel” that ends up becoming a bestseller.

Jefferson graduated from Canyon del Oro High School and left Tucson for college in 2000. He worked as a journalist for several years before becoming a writer for television.

In 2019 he earned a Primetime Emmy Award for his work on the HBO limited series “Watchmen” and wrote for the Netflix comedy “Master of None” and the NBC sitcom “The Good Place.”

Meanwhile, another Arizonan was a big Oscar winner Sunday.

Emma Stone, from Scottsdale, won the Academy Award for best actress Sunday for her performance in “Poor Things.”

It was her second Oscar win for best actress. In 2017, Stone also won for “La La Land.”

Stone was honored Sunday for her tour-de-force performance as Bella Baxter, a childlike woman in Victorian London who comes to life through a brain transplant and begins a journey of self-discovery, the Associated Press reported.

Stone is the 13th woman to win two best actress trophies. She was nominated for supporting actress in 2015 and 2019.

She also was nominated this year in the best picture category for producing “Poor Things,” which lost to “Oppenheimer.” She was the second woman to be nominated for acting and best picture for the same film after Frances McDormand, who earned both trophies for “Nomadland” in 2021, the AP reported.

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