Emily wins a surprise Lilly Award!

I cannot believe what happened last night. The Lilly Awards gave me a surprise award, the inaugural Go Write A Musical Award, to be given annually to a female composer. It's $25,000 and a year-long residency at New York SongSpace. And apparently, all my family and friends were in on it!

The sheer scale of this deception was unbelievable. We are literally talking international intrigue. There were people flying in, taking a train in, buses… I am told there were hundreds of emails flying around. I was being handled! People trying to find out people’s emails, coordinating without me knowing. People trying to manage my schedule — because I was supposed to be in three places at the same time. But also, we’re not just talking people-people. We’re talking very illustrious artists emailing other very illustrious artists trying to get insignificant particle me to be in the right place, at the right time, wearing the right clothes. You’re telling me YOU ALL KNEW??

So I’m very excited to be sitting in the audience, enjoying the speeches of, oh you know, Sarah Ruhl, Julia Jordan, Eve Ensler, Carole Rothman, Daryl Roth, and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote and performed a song… I was so excited to see writers Jen Silverman, Jocelyn Bioh, Gina Femia and designer Stacey Derosier honoured with awards. I was so full of pride to be at the awards, while the mischievous Ed Iskandar is sitting next to me EMAILING EVERYONE THAT I AM A SITTING DUCK.

I thought that Julia Jordan said my name, and suddenly, Ed is pulling on my arm. Why. Why is he pulling on my arm. Where am I going. I’m going to trip on this dress. Why did I wear this dress.

My parents and friends start walking out on stage with these huge grins on their faces! Ed’s whisked me up the stairs and it seems like everyone but me knows what they’re doing!

Lilly Award Emily Gardner Xu Hall.png

The playwright and co-founder of the Lilly Awards themselves, Julia Jordan, seems to be saying words like “feminist” and “Cherry Orchard” that indicate she knows my writing (??!!). She is so intelligent and I have admired her since I saw her speak about the Lillys — I am worried that I cannot hear with my ears anymore. I think she says $25,000 and a year long residency at SongSpace. Everyone is standing together like angels.

Thank you to the Lilly Awards and to Stacey Mindich for this incredible honour. Thank you to Dramatists Play Service for our afterparty.

Thank you to my parents, and my incredible friends and family for showing up and stashing yourselves in a corridor, to those absent for all the messages and for believing in me, for handling me with so much care and love, and also for engaging in collusion on a higher level than our current government is capable of.

Thank you to my Wellesley sisters for being there. Thank you to the NYU Graduate Acting for letting me in the door and the NYU community for believing in me. Thank you to my BMI family for showing up after class like it’s no big deal. Thank you to Musical Theatre Factory for supporting emerging writers. Thank you to all those who have supported me in every hare-brained idea I've tried to pull off. Thank you to each one of my dear collaborators over the years, who have given their time, talent and thought and without whom no one would have even known I wrote stuff because I might not have admitted it. My gratitude is wider than all our known oceans. I still don't have the words.

I hope that I can serve my communities as well as you serve me. I want to make work for all of us! Thank you for the most beautiful and surprising night of my life.