By Lizzie Wilcox

Two high school outcasts stumble across a cannibalistic alien and find themselves caught up in a big government conspiracy. No, this is not breaking news; it is Megan Rico’s screenplay that won her the Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting.

The Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship is awarded to an undergraduate student who plans to pursue a career in screenwriting. The Writers Guild of America, East Foundation chooses the recipient from a number of universities and colleges. The winner is provided with $10,000 and a mentor to write an original screenplay.

Megan Rico, senior at the School of Communication at the University of Miami, pitched her idea of a sci-fi comedy that she describes as E.T. meets cannibalism. She will be working on the screenplay this semester along with a professional screenwriter from the WGAE Foundation who has not yet been assigned to her. According to Rico, the foundation tries to find a mentor who will match with the style of the screenplay.

The tone of Rico’s piece differs from those of previous winners.

“I was looking at past winners of the award and all of their things were very like serious and period pieces and like dramas, so I was very surprised that they chose my fluffy comedy,” Rico said. “Maybe they wanted to change it up and get something a little bit lighter.”

Tom Musca, a screenwriting professor at the School of Communication at UM, nominated Rico to enter this fellowship.

“I’ve had the pleasure of teaching Megan in three different courses and she’s never ceased to impress me with her work,” Musca said. “Her writing is very mature for someone her age and she writes to her generation very well […] I had other students who are also accomplished, but I just felt like it was Megan’s turn.”

Rico, an Electronic Media major, spoke of Musca as one of the most influential people when it comes to her writing because he has really helped her to grow as a writer.

“I feel like my stuff definitely has like a strong voice and I feel like my personality really comes out in my writing,” Rico said.

Musca definitely sees Megan’s voice in her screenplay.

“It’s just full of Megan because the characters are hip. She writes three dimensional characters who are somewhat lacking direction and purpose, but learn things about themselves along the way and she does that very brilliantly,” Musca said.

Musca not only likes Rico’s writing, but also her character.

“Megan’s very observant, very funny. She knows what’s going on. She reminds me of people I hung out with when I was in film school,” Musca said. “I wish I had more students like Megan.”