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Dawn DeNoon


West Virginia University alum Dawn DeNoon is a television writer/producer living in Los Angeles, California. Within a few months of graduating summa cum laude from WVU with a B.F.A. in Theatre, the Moundsville native headed straight from Morgantown to Hollywood. The five-day drive was easy; “making it” once she got there was hard. For more than a decade she scraped by on day jobs and game show winnings (Scrabble and $25,000 Pyramid). Her big break finally came in 1999, when she was hired onto the original writing staff of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Over her 12 seasons on that show, she wrote or co-wrote 42 episodes, advancing in title from Staff Writer to Co-Executive Producer. Living and writing in L.A., she traveled to New York, where the series is shot, to produce her episodes. In addition to stars Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Richard Belzer and Ice-T, she had the pleasure of working with countless guest stars, including favorites Martin Short, Jerry Lewis, Joan Cusack and Sharon Stone. Dawn wrote all three episodes of Marcia Gay Harden’s Emmy-nominated arc on the show, and she co-wrote the episode for which Cynthia Nixon won a Best Guest Actress Emmy. Looking to expand her range, Dawn has gone on to write for medical, action, thriller, crime and political dramas, including A Gifted Man, Blue Bloods, Crisis, Stalker, The Blacklist, and the Netflix reboot of Designated Survivor. Her writing has garnered honors including a Prism Award, the Sentinel Award from Norman Lear’s Hollywood Health & Society, and an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Dawn’s ties to West Virginia are still strong.

As a Creative Consultant Mentor, Dawn meets throughout the year, by Zoom, with a WVU student selected by the College of Creative Arts, providing career guidance and happily giving notes on scripts. In 2019, she established a Student Showcase Endowment with the goal of facilitating the transition from academia to the professional world for WVU theatre majors. Dawn is honored and deeply humbled to be receiving an honorary Doctor of Letters degree this year from West Virginia University.