General News

Tina Fey to Receive 2023 PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award, Mar. 2

February 15, 2023

NEW YORK – PEN America announced on February 15 that Greek-American Tina Fey, nine-time Emmy Award-winner and one of the greatest comedy writers of her generation, will receive the 2023 PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award at the 59th annual PEN America Literary Awards. Fey’s friend and frequent castmate Rachel Dratch will present the honor live at the ceremony, March 2 at The Town Hall in New York.

PEN America also made public the finalists for the evening’s 11 book awards, recognizing literary excellence in a wide range of genres. In a dazzling event hosted by acclaimed actor, author, and former Obama White House aide Kal Penn— with live music, dramatic readings, and memorable acceptance speeches— over $350,000 will go to writers and translators.

Fey said: “It’s been a lifelong dream to have my name associated in any way with the great Mike Nichols. Thanks to this award, I can stop working on my Silkwood reboot.”

Fey is the fifth recipient of the PEN/Mike Nichols award, which honors a writer who enlightens and inspires audiences in the tradition of the venerated, late comedian and filmmaker Mike Nichols, with special attention paid to writing that breaks new thematic or artistic ground. Previous winners include George C. Wolfe, Tom Stoppard, Kenneth Lonergan, and Elaine May.
“The PEN America Literary Awards celebrate both the joy and the essential hard truths writers deliver,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America. “With her unabashed comic sensibilities, multilayered jokes, and heightened reflection of our off-kilter world, Tina Fey has brought indispensable laughter and insight to audiences and readers. We couldn’t be happier to share this award with such a singular and pioneering artist, who, like the great Mike Nichols, understands the depth and social import of humor.”

Tina Fey has been making audiences laugh for over 25 years, in a career of towering achievements. In 1999, she became the first female head writer on Saturday Night Live and wrote the iconic comedy film Mean Girls (and later, the book for Broadway smash hit Mean Girls the Musical, and screenplay for an upcoming movie adaptation). She innovated network TV comedy writing with unique razor-sharp humor the series 30 Rock and starring as the beloved character Liz Lemon. She applied her writing’s mix of buoyancy and bite to the exploration of trauma through a comedic lens in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Fey’s ever-growing canon of film and TV— along with a Broadway musical and her bestselling memoir Bossypants— offers a keen exploration of womanhood, as well as the often-surreal elements of contemporary life.

The PEN America Literary Awards identify the year’s best writing in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, science writing, translation, and more. For emerging and established winners alike, the prizes are career milestones. Over the years, the Awards have been remarkably effective in identifying early talent, recognizing eventual titans including Chang Rae Lee (1996), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2002), Jonathan Safran Foer (2004). Finalists for this year’s PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel include Lisa Hsiao Chen (Activities of Daily Living), Ramona Emerson (Shutter), Oscar Hokeah (Calling For a Blanket Dance), Alyssa Songsiridej (Little Rabbit), and Ryan Lee Wong (Which Side Are You On). The full list of finalists is available online: https://bit.ly/3IslP83.

Leading literary, entertainment, and media figures will gather at The Town Hall in what past host Seth Meyers has described as “the Oscars for books.” The celebration for writers and translators is also an unforgettable night for readers. It is the rare high-profile awards show that is open to the public, with tickets starting at $15, available online:

The 2023 Awards will be presented by luminaries including composer, musician, and former Radiolab host Jad Abumrad; Emmy-winning anchor of The Beat on MSNBC and Chief Legal Correspondent for MSNBC Ari Melber; former United States Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky; acclaimed actress, author, and translator Molly Ringwald; producer, director, model, public speaker, trans rights advocate, and television host Geena Rocero; and others. The evening’s performers include Broadway’s Bobby Conte, Liisi LaFontaine, and Solea Pfieffer, with musical direction by Ulysses Owens, Jr.

The 2023 PEN America Literary Awards red carpet opens at 6 PM, followed by the ceremony at 8 PM. The Town Hall is located at 123 West 43rd Street


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