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Bettina Gilois (1961–2020), screenwriter of “Bessie,” “Glory Road”

by Linnea Crowther

Bettina Gilois was a screenwriter best known for her work on the HBO film “Bessie” and Disney’s “Glory Road.”

Award-winning career

Born in Germany, Gilois worked with Hollywood notables including Jerry Bruckheimer, Norman Jewison, and Robert Zemeckis. In 2006, she received a Black Reel Awards nomination and a Humanitas Prize nomination for her screenplay for “Glory Road,” a dramatization of Texas Western College’s historic all-black basketball team’s road to the NCAA finals. Gilois received another Black Reel Awards nomination, as well as an Emmy nomination, for “Bessie,” a biopic of blues singer Bessie Smith. The film won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing for Film (TV). Gilois received another NAACP Image Award nomination for “McFarland, USA” (2015). Her other credits include uncredited writing on “The Hurricane” (1999) and “The Mists of Avalon” (2001), as well as the upcoming 2020 series “Muscle Shoals.” Gilois was also a screenwriting professor at Chapman University.

Gilois’ inspiration

“I’m always inspired by the underdog. Those who are up against seemingly insurmountable odds that believe and pull something special out of themselves to become victorious in the end. That’s where my heart is.” —from a 2015 interview with the Panther


What people said about her

Full obituary: Deadline

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