Wesleyan Announces All-Star Hamilton Prize Selection Committee

Hamilton Prize Committee

Wesleyan University has announced the distinguished members of its inaugural Hamilton Prize Selection Committee. The all-star committee, made up of Wesleyan alumni, will choose the first-ever recipient of the university’s newly established Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity—a four-year full-tuition scholarship that will be awarded to the incoming Wesleyan student of the Class of 2021 whose creative written work is judged to best reflect the originality, artistry and dynamism embodied in Hamilton: An American Musical.

The deadline for submissions for the Hamilton Prize and to apply to Wesleyan University is January 1, 2017. Apply now!

Worth as much as $200,000, the prize was established in honor of Wesleyan alumni Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ’99, writer/creator and director of the Tony Award-winning musical, who will serve as honorary chairs of the committee.

“Bringing the Wes community together to select the first recipient of the Hamilton Prize for Creativity fills me with love and gratitude,” said Miranda. “I am humbled to be a member of such a talented group of passionate, creative forces.”

“Wesleyan gave us all the freedom to explore our creativity without boundaries or limits,” added Kail. “Working alongside Wes alums to choose an original written work for the first-ever Hamilton Prize is an honor.”

Hamilton Prize Selection Committee

Thomas Kail ’99 (honorary chair) is the Tony-winning director of Hamilton: An American Musical, Emmy-winning director of Grease Live and Tony-nominated director of In the Heights. Kail is currently directing Tiny Beautiful Things at the Public Theater, in New York. He recently made a deal for his production company, Old 320 Sycamore, to work exclusively at Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 (honorary chair) is the Pulitzer Prize-, Grammy-, Emmy- and Tony-winning writer/creator and original star of Hamilton: An American Musical and In the Heights. A recipient of a MacArthur “genius” fellowship, Miranda’s latest projects include co-executive producing the newly released The Hamilton Mixtape, composing songs for the new Disney movie Moana and starring in Disney’s upcoming Mary Poppins Returns.

Carter Bays ’97 is the co-creator, executive producer, and writer of How I Met Your Mother. He is currently developing two new comedy series, for CBS and FOX, with Craig Thomas ’97. He lives in New York City.

Amy Bloom ’75 is the author of Come To Me (National Book Award finalist), A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You (National Book Critics Circle Award finalist) and the New York Times bestsellers Away and Lucky Us, among other titles. Bloom is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and director of the Shapiro Creative Writing Center at Wesleyan University.

Daniel Handler ’92 is the author of the novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, Adverbs, Why We Broke Up, We Are Pirates and All the Dirty Parts. As Lemony Snicket, he is the author of far too many books for children, including All the Wrong Questions and A Series of Unfortunate Events, which has been adapted for film and television.  He lives in San Francisco with the illustrator Lisa Brown, to whom he is married, and their kid.

Maggie Nelson ’94 is the author of the National Book Critics Circle Award-winner The Argonauts, The Art of Cruelty and The Red Parts, among other titles. A 2016 recipient of a MacArthur “genius” fellowship, Nelson is on the faculty of the California Institute for the Arts and chair of the school’s MFA creative writing program.

Amanda Palmer ’98 is a singer-musician-writer who also performs as half of the acclaimed punk duo The Dresden Dolls, among other collaborations. After her viral TED talk about crowdfunding and trust, “The Art of Asking,” Palmer went on to pen a New York Times best-selling book of the same name. She now funds her films, recordings and blogs about compassion, feminism and art with the support of almost 10,000 online patrons.

Mary Roach ’81 is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Packing for Mars and Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, among other titles. Roach’s writing has appeared in National Geographic, the New York Times, Wired and other outlets.

Bozoma Saint John ’99 is head of global consumer marketing at Apple Music and iTunes. During her career, Saint John has been included among Billboard Magazine’s Top Women in Music and Top Executives 40 Under 40, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, and Ebony Magazine’s 100 Powerful Executives. She is a member of the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement.

Kaneza Schaal ’06 is an actor/director whose latest commissioned work, GO/FORTH, was inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, Schaal has worked with The Wooster Group, Elevator Repair Service, New York City Opera and National Public Radio, among others, in venues that include Centre Pompidou, Royal Lyceum Theater Edinburgh and MoMA.

Tierney Sutton ’86 is a seven-time Grammy-nominated jazz singer with the Tierney Sutton Band. During her 20-plus-year career, Sutton has recorded 11 CDs and has headlined at venues that include The Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Her latest projects include The Sting Variations and the score for the movie Sully, starring Tom Hanks.

Craig Thomas ’97 is the co-creator, executive producer and writer of How I Met Your Mother. He is currently developing two new comedy series, for CBS and FOX, with Carter Bays ’97.

Matthew Weiner ’87, P’18 
is a nine-time Emmy Award winner whose credits include creator/executive producer/writer/director of Mad Men and writer/executive producer of The Sopranos. His debut novel, Heather, the Totality, will be published by Little, Brown and Company in the fall of 2017.

Simone White ’93 is a poet and critic whose work includes Of Being Dispersed, House of Envy of All the World and Unrest. White received a JD from Harvard Law School, an MFA from The New School and a PhD in English from CUNY Graduate Center. She was selected as a New American Poet by the Poetry Society of America. She is program director at The Poetry Project (at St. Mark’s Church) and visiting assistant professor of literary studies at The New School, Eugene Lang College.

“The creative accomplishments of the members of the Hamilton Prize selection committee are a testament to Wesleyan’s outsized role as an incubator of some of today’s most boundary-breaking thinkers, artists and writers,” said Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth. “I look forward with great enthusiasm to finding out which incoming Wesleyan student will be chosen by the committee to receive this extraordinary honor.”

For full details and submission guidelines, visit The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity. The selection committee will announce the recipient of the scholarship in spring 2017.

About the Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity
The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity is a four-year full-tuition scholarship established in honor of Hamilton: An American Musical writer/creator and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and director Thomas Kail ’99. The story of our country’s youngest founding father—a brash young immigrant who forever changed the course of history—Hamilton is an extraordinary artistic achievement: a Tony Award-winning multicultural hip-hop opera that offers a profoundly original look at the birth of our nation. The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity will be awarded to the incoming student of Wesleyan’s Class of 2021 whose work of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or other creative written expression (lyrics, plays, scripts, etc.) best reflects the originality, artistry and dynamism embodied in Hamilton.