The screenwriter and co-producer of American Beauty, Alan Ball earned almost overnight acclaim and recognition for his screenplay for the film, which won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar and Golden Globe, as well as numerous other honors. Ball's success was a long time coming; much of the frustration and anger felt by American Beauty's protagonist, Lester Burnham, was inspired by the screenwriter's own dissatisfaction with his years spent working as a television writer and producer.
Born in Atlanta in 1957 and raised in the neighboring community of Marietta, Ball studied Theatre with an emphasis on acting and playwriting at Florida State University. After graduating, he moved to New York, where he became a noted playwright. Among the plays he penned were The Amazing Adventures of Tense Guy, Your Mother's Butt, Made for a Woman, and Five Women Wearing the Same Dress; when the latter premiered in 1993 at the Manhattan Class Company, it featured Allison Janney, with whom Ball would later work on American Beauty.