May will be honored at the Writers Guild Awards Los Angeles ceremony to be held on Feb. 13 at the Century Plaza.
“Elaine May defines the phrase ‘smart and funny,’” said WGA West President Howard A. Rodman. “From the Compass Players to Nichols & May to ‘A New Leaf’ and ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ and Mikey and Nicky, she invented a strain of knowing, painful, ironic humor that quickly became central to what we now think of as comedy. She’s received Oscar nominations and WGA nominations and Writers Guild Awards, all well-deserved; but it is time to recognize, plainly and simply, the debt that all of us owe to her brave, groundbreaking, fiercely intelligent, deeply human, relentlessly honest, scorchingly funny work.”
May has been a member of the WGA West since 1962. May received her first Writers Guild Award nomination for her 1971 debut film “A New Leaf,” which she also directed and co-starred in opposite Walter Matthau. May earned a Writers Guild Award and an Oscar nomination for co-writing Warren Beatty’s comedy “Heaven Can Wait.”
May also received a Writers Guild Award nomination for 1996’s “The Birdcage.” She won a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Primary Colors” along with Academy and Writers Guild nominations.
Her other screenwriting credits include 1971’s “Such Good Friends,” 1976’s “Mikey and Nicky” and 1987’s “Ishtar,” which she also directed. May also directed the 1972 romantic comedy “The Heartbreak Kid.”
May has also appeared in “Enter Laughing” (1967), “California Suite” (1978), “In the Spirit” (1990) and co-starred opposite Woody Allen in “Small Time Crooks” (2000), which earned her a National Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1994, she received the American Comedy Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy. In 2000, she shared the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival’s Career Tribute award with her frequent collaborator Mike Nichols.
May was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in 2013.
Past recipients of the WGAW’s Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement include screenwriters David Mamet, Lawrence Kasdan, Robert Benton, Barry Levinson, Steven Zaillian, Eric Roth, Tom Stoppard, Paul Mazursky and Harold Ramis.