First-Time Screenwriter Iris Yamashita Up for an Oscar

First-time screenwriter Iris Yamashita is nominated for an Academy Award for her screenplay, Letters from Iwo Jima.

Many screenwriters toil for years trying to get their scripts noticed. Then there’s Iris Yamashita, whose “Letters From Iwo Jima” screenplay, up for an Oscar this Sunday, is the first she’s ever written.

Yamashita, who describes herself as “40-ish,” tells Entertainment Weekly’s that after taking some screenwriting courses at UCLA, she entered a screenwriting contest, which she won. A contest judge happened to be an agent from Creative Artists Agency, Cathy Tarr, who offered to represent her.

Tarr sent some of Yamashita’s writings to Paul Haggis, director of “Crash,” last year’s Best Picture winner. Haggis chose to work with her on “Letters From Iwo Jima,” the companion movie to Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers.” Eastwood made sure no one else but Yamashita did the rewrites, so her name is the only one on the script.

“This is one of those experiences that I’ll never have again,” she says. “It’s all downhill from here.”