Ava DuVernay’s ‘Origin’ Screenplay Will Be Pushed as Original, Not Adapted (Exclusive)

Contrary to early prognostication by pundits, Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay’s film Origin will be competing this awards season as an original screenplay, not an adapted screenplay, The Hollywood Reporter has learned from sources close to the film.

The moving drama, which premiered to acclaim at the Venice and Toronto international film festivals, was inspired by but is not an adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s 2020 best-selling book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent.

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Indeed, Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize winner for her 2010 book The Warmth of Other Suns, is not featured at all in Caste, but she is the beating heart and soul of Origin, as written by DuVernay, an Oscar nominee for the 2016 documentary feature 13th. Wilkerson is portrayed in Origin by Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, who received a nod for her role in 2021’s King Richard.

The book is about connections that Wilkerson made through forms of prejudice across vast swaths of time and geography. The film, meanwhile, chronicles Wilkerson’s path to arriving at those connections.

Consequently, the Writers Guild of America deemed Origin to be an original screenplay, and the film’s backers, including distributor Neon, plan to campaign for it everywhere accordingly.

This means that the screenplay will be up against the likes of Barbie, Past Lives, The Holdovers, Anatomy of a Fall, Saltburn, Maestro, Fair Play, Air and The Teacher’s Lounge, rather than American Fiction, Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon, Poor Things, The Zone of Interest, All of Us Strangers, Priscilla and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

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