It’s hard to give titles to Nick Vallonga and Kenny D’Aquila. For our purposes here, we’ll call them screenwriters, but this pair is multi-talented. You can barely stand next to them and NOT be inspired to do something creative.

You probably know Vallelonga from his two-time Oscar win at the 2019 Academy Awards (no big deal!), both for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture for “Green Book.” The film is based on the true story of Vallelonga’s father Tony Lip, who toured the south with famed pianist Dr. Donald Shirley in the 60s. But Vallelonga also produced the film, directed many others, acts, and writes – screenplays AND songs! His latest project “10 Double Zero” will star Nicolas Cage.

Award-winning playwright Kenny D’Aquila writes for the stage and the screen, and has appeared in more than 30 plays, including Unorganized Crime, which he also wrote. D’Aquila, Vallelonga, and actor Chazz Palminteri are busy promoting the pilot version of the story by the same title. They hope Unorganized Crime gets picked up as a series soon. Meanwhile, D’Aquila just finished a new play, In the Key of Dee.

With so many projects under their belts, we had to know, what does their writing process look like?

“It’s different for me,” Vallelonga began. “It’s happened to me before where I thought of this great ending, and I’m like, okay, how do I get to that? Or I just have a general idea and I let it roll in my head … beginning, middle, and end, whatever it may be, and then I just pound it out and refine it, like a sculptor. You have a big mound of stuff, and I chop away until I get something.”

Something like “two Oscars,” D’Aquila added.

“But it changes. For me, it changes all the time,” Vallelonga said.

“I have to write,” D’Aquila said. “I don’t care what it is. For example, I just finished my latest play. I wanted to write a story about what life would be like without music. It took a long time for me to process it. It’s like Nick says, you start writing and creating, taking things that you really like, keeping them, taking things that aren’t working, discarding them. Keep moving forward. But you have to start writing to keep moving forward.”

No shortcuts here, scribes. With more than six decades of experience combined, these two earned the title of screenwriter, even if it is just ONE of many.

Hard work pays off,

Courtney Meznarich, Director of Community Outreach