March 02, 2009

White captures Blumenberg screenwriting award

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Andrea Leigh White, who earned three undergraduate degrees from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in May, received the Richard M. Blumenberg Screenwriting Award last month.

White’s winning screenplay is “Green World,” with main characters featuring Alice (from “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland”) and Dorothy (from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”).

White earned degrees in cinematography, history and theater. Currently in Chicago, White, who is from Newburgh, Ind., said she hopes to attend graduate school, possibly the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California.

Winning the award, which includes a $1,000 prize, “was an amazing surprise,” said White, one of 25 Distinguished Seniors chosen last spring by the Southern Illinois University Alumni Association and Student Alumni Council.

Winning the award is a “humbling experience,” White said. She is the daughter of Linda and John Moore of Newburgh, Ind., and Tim White of Evansville, Ind.

“Winning the award was an amazing surprise,” she said. “I’m so honored that the judges felt that my script was worth recognition.”

Prior to writing the script, White spent a semester researching for a history paper that covered how “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” affected their contemporary societies, said Carol Westerman-Jones, an academic adviser in the Department of Cinema and Photography. The paper won the Edward J. O’Day Award, given to the best history research paper in a given year, and published as the leading article in the Department of History’s “Legacy.”

The Department of Cinema and Photography, in conjunction with alumni in SIUC’s cinema and photography and radio-television departments, established the award to recognize the late SIUC professor Richard M. Blumenberg’s 27-year teaching career and dedication to his students. Students from the two departments submit screenplays and scripts for the annual award. Experts comprised of SIUC faculty and professional alumni review the submissions. In addition to the monetary award, the winning screenplay/script goes to the permanent archive within the Department of Cinema and Photography.

The departments are both within SIUC’s College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.