Quick, name the most famous female screenwriter you can think of. It might be kind of difficult, since Women and Hollywood statistics show women made up only 16% of writers in the top-grossing 500 films in 2017. But, perhaps you thought of Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) or Jane Goldman (Kingsman, Kickass). If you’re a superhero fan, you may have thought of Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) or Amanda Silver (Jurassic Park, Avatar II). And if you know enough about script doctors, you definitely thought of Carrie Fisher.
But on the horizon, a mysterious new challenger is emerging. A woman who is in the thick of some of the most popular franchise IPs in the business. A woman you’ve probably never heard of: Geneva Robertson-Dworet. First arriving on the scene on 2012, Geneva’s screenplay Hibernation was one of that year’s winners on the Black List. She’d pop up to win again in 2015 with her script Ares. For those that don’t know, the Black List is a collection of screenplays by aspiring filmmakers. Each year, industry members vote on their favorites which did not get optioned. It’s considered a great honor.
While neither Hibernation nor Ares have been optioned, Robertson-Dworet’s work caught the eye of several executives. As of this writing, she’s attached to over half a dozen projects, many of them high-profile. She’s working on Sherlock Holmes 3, Tomb Raider, Captain Marvel, Gotham City Sirens, and the new Dungeons and Dragons adaptation, among others.
Despite this astronomic rise, Robertson-Dworet is still a bit of a cipher. She has no official Wikipedia page and seemingly no social media footprint. Even a photo is hard to come by (though THR managed to snag one during an interview last year). In the 21st-century media landscape, that’s a Houdini-level trick. What little we can glean about Robertson-Dworet from a handful of interviews in intriguing. She loves hard science-fiction and finds joy in working with NASA and other scientists for research. She is the product of women raising up other women, stating her first four jobs she was hired by female executives before the men would even look at her. And she believes female characters deserve the same about as specificity as male ones.
If all goes well, by this time next year Robertson-Dworet will be on the leading edge of a new generation of female screenwriters. Should Tomb Raider and Captain Marvel perform as expected, giving audiences complex and flawed heroines as well as deep and interesting narratives, her star will only continue to rise.
Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Know her name.