Highlighting Playwright and TV/Film Writer Qui Nguyen

Photo from Ngyuen’s SHE KILLS MONSTERS at the University of Arkansas Theatre

In honor of National Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re spotlighting the creative mind, contributions, and accomplishments of Qui Nguyen. A writer for stage, film, and television, Nguyen’s work features unique concepts and characters, many of which are female, BIPOC individuals, and LGBTQIA+, with dark and humorous dialogue.  

Originally from El Dorado, Arkansas, Nguyen is the co-founder of the OBIE Award-winning company Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company and is a self-described geek. According to the official website for Vampire Cowboys, they are a “geek theatre” company that creates and produces new works of theatre based in action/adventure and dark comedy with a comic book aesthetic. 

His multitude of plays include (but are by no means limited to) Men of Steel, She Kills Monsters, Soul Samurai, Fight Girl Battle World, Aliens Vs. Cheerleaders, Alice in Slasherland, Trial by Water, and Vietgone (and its sequel, Poor Yella Rednecks). The play Vietgone is a romantic-comedy that tells the love story of Nguyen’s parents, Tong and Quang, who meet in 1975 at an American refugee camp during the Vietnam War. 

Nguyen also has plays that portray an interesting take on Shakespearean characters and plotlines. His play, Living Dead in Denmark, is a sequel to the classic play, Hamlet. It is an action and adventure/horror play that centers on the resurrection of iconic female characters such as Juliet, Ophelia, and Lady Macbeth. If the eclectic plot alone isn’t enough, Nguyen uses the movies and music of today’s pop culture (and a bit of martial arts) to tell the tale.  

TV writing credits include Dispatches from Elsewhere (AMC), Incorporated (SyFy), The Society (Netflix), and Peg+CAT (PBS). For his work on the children’s show Peg+Cat, Nguyen won a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Animated Program. Currently a screenwriter for Walt Disney Animation Studios, he co-wrote Raya and the Last Dragon—surrounding characters and a plot largely influenced by multiple Southeast Asian cultures. Keep an eye out for one of his upcoming projects, Strange World, (another Disney production) that’s sure to be a hit.  

Nguyen is the recipient of multiple awards, including the 2014 Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellowship, the 2015 NY Community Trust Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, the 2013 AATE Distinguished Play Award (She Kills Monsters), and the 2016 Steinberg New Play Award (Vietgone). To learn more, check out his website or follow “Your friendly neighborhood chaos poet” on Twitter @qui_writes.