top of page

Bio and Curriculum Vitae

For a downloadable PDF, Please click here.

Drew Philp


My journalistic and written work regularly reaches millions and has been published both nationally and internationally, including appearing in BuzzFeed, De Correspondent, and the Guardian, the latter where I served as Rust Belt correspondent. In 2017, Scribner published my nonfiction novel, the award-winning A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City. The Star Tribune called it “maybe the most inspiring book” you’ll read all year and it was excerpted in the Guardian. In 2017, I delivered an official TED Talk at TEDNYC that has reached more than 1.3 million people worldwide in a dozen languages and was featured on the TED Radio Hour. 

I’ve worked in the film industry, writing two feature-length dramas on contract including a collaboration with a regional Emmy Award-winning producer. I have written unsigned book reviews for Publishers Weekly, am formerly the theater critic for the Metro Times, and as of December 2020, I was awarded a grant by the Knight Foundation to co-write a new play entitled A Midsummer’s American Dream with the founding director of Shakespeare in Detroit.

I was selected by Michael Pollan and the University of California, Berkeley as an 11th hour Food and Justice Reporting Fellow in 2016, as a Kresge Artist Fellow in 2017, and as a Kathryn Davis Fellow for Peace at Middlebury College in 2019.  My essays and profiles have appeared in books and collections in the United States and Europe, both trade and academic, and I have worked as an adjunct writing professor at Oakland University. I’ve made dozens of public appearances in support of my work including at the National Writers Series, CSPAN, Google, and dozens of universities. I am a professional member of PEN America.

My most recent work has consisted of intensive language learning and study of video game narrative, a novel in progress awaited by my publisher, professional game writing for London gaming company Shades of Vengeance, and as the editor and organizer of the inaugural yearly fiction edition of the Metro Times supported by Kresge Arts in Detroit. I have also recently worked as a narrative consultant for social-impact brands such as the crowd-solutions investing platform WaterWorksFund. 

In addition to my work as a journalist, screenwriter, and copywriter, I am recognized internationally for building my house with my own hands, as an expert on Detroit, and as a speaker and writer with great sensitivity to issues of race and class. I am also a certified diesel mechanic. I am located in the Eastern Time Zone and am 34 years old. 


Select Literary and Academic Publications:             

  • Collin Harrison, Editor-in-Chief of Scribner Publishing, acquired at auction the rights to my memoir about purchasing an abandoned house in Detroit at the age of 23 and the racial and socioeconomic realities of the city and region. A $500 House: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City was published on April 11, 2017. The book received the Stuart and Vernice Gross award for literature, and reviews include a glowing and starred piece from Kirkus, with the Star Tribune calling it, “maybe the most inspiring book” you’ll read all year. An excerpt was published in the Guardian.  2017.

  • "Make Sure You’re Helping: Experts, Solidarity and Effective Partnering with Locals" was published in Can't Forget the Motor City: What Happens in Detroit Matters for the Urban World edited by professor Brian Doucet of Utrecht University and published in the United States and Europe by Policy Press. The volume includes work by prominent academics, writers, and thinkers on Detroit. 2017.

  • The essay “Poletown” was published in the Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook, Belt Publishing. 2017.

  • The essay “Like Stones Dropped in a Pond” was published in Detroit: An Archive of Experiences by Expodium, Holland, in the Netherlands, Greece, and Portugal. 2010.

  • PEN America professional member in good standing. Current.

  • Represented in New York by Jenni Ferrari-Adler of Union Literary. Represented in Los Angeles by Kassie Evashevski. Current.

Select Longform, Magazine, and Feature Stories:

Select Criticism, Translations, Newspaper Journalism:

  • Detroit Is It freelance feature and culture writer. 2019-2020. 

  • Published multiple unsigned nonfiction book reviews for Publisher’s Weekly. 2016.

  • De Correspondent published, in translation, a feature story about my walk to Cleveland and the RNC. 2016.

  • Vers Beton, in the Netherlands, published a translated short feature co-written with Professor Brian Doucet entitled, Detroit is Meer Dan Ruiines. A short editorial with similar themes was published in The Guardian as well. 2016.

  • Theater critic for The Metro Times, one of the largest alternative newsweekly in the US. Reviews include an influential piece on the Detroit premiere of White People, which was cited nationally, including in VOX; a local production of Angels in America; and a legendary Detroit improv theater. 2015-2016.

  • The Detroit Free Press published freelance pieces, including the widely influential scoop “UM Might Tap Detroit as Living Classroom,” that covered a groundbreaking partnership between the University of Michigan and the city of Detroit. 2008.

  • Intern staff member of The Bakersfield Californian, in Bakersfield, California. Wrote dozens of front-page stories and covered everything from a shootout at a hospital to a new ride at Disneyland. 2007.

  • Published more than 40 pieces at The Michigan Daily, including a profile that won a Gold Circle, the highest award in collegiate journalism. Articles were often reprinted by wire services and specialty publications. 2004-2008.

Speaking Engagements, Radio and Television:

  • Delivered an official TED talk at TEDNYC, that was released digitally on TED’s Homepage April 5, 2017. The speech has reached more than 1.3 million viewers in nearly a dozen languages. The piece was also featured on the TED Radio Hour. 2017.

  • I have given lectures and readings around the world, including at Google, Leaders Quest, and The National Writers Series, appearances at the Littlerock Literary Festival and Harbor Springs Festival of the Book, an international book tour, and other readings at dozens of cultural institutions and libraries across the US. 2014-Current.

  • Regularly invited to various universities as a guest lecturer on Detroit, US urban centers, and nonfiction writing. Educational institutions have included The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Saginaw Valley State University, Little Rock Central High School. 2014-current.

  • Appeared on nationally syndicated television in promotion of my work, including CSPAN and WGN as well as a lengthy interview for Google, broadcast on their YouTube channel. 2014-Current. 

  • Appeared on the radio numerous times for promotion of my work and commentary, most notably NPR’s nationally-syndicated Tell Me More and the TED Radio Hour. I have also made multiple appearances on WDET’s Detroit today, on NPR stations in California and across the Midwest, as well as at select international venues in Canada, New Zealand, and others. 2014- Current.   

Film, Television, Play, Games and Fiction Writing:

  • Recipient of a unique monetary award from the Knight Foundation to co-write a new play entitled A Midsummer’s American Dream with founding director of Shakespeare in Detroit. Full performance slated for 2022. 2020-current. 

  • Guest edited the inaugural Fiction issue of the Metro Times, assembling 25 of the most prominent writers and artists in Detroit. After publication every artist was funded by Kresge Arts in Detroit, and we are currently in talks to make funding annual. 2020. 

  • Wrote many pieces of fiction for London gaming company Shades of Vengeance, for use in their tabletop games. 2019-2020.

  • Participant in the Global Game Jam at the Rochester Institute of Technology. 2020. 

  • Contracted to deliver a one hour speech about findings in year-long study of game narrative by the International Game Developers Association Ann Arbor chapter. 2020. 

  • Co-writer of two feature-length scripts on contract for Knagen Films, including with regional Emmy Award-winning producer Charles Cirgenski. Also credited with various other writing assignments and editorial positions on local films and international shorts. 2011-2013.

  • Have written a number of yet unproduced screenplays and television pilots. 2011-current.  



Teaching and Professorships:

  • Instructed the 400-level journalism course, Freelance and Magazine Journalism, at Oakland University as an adjunct professor. Chair called my student evaluations “near perfect” and I received absolutely perfect scores in the section, “This professor encouraged me to do my best work.” 2018.

  • As a volunteer, taught English as a conversation partner and a civics class at Freedom House Detroit, a live-in facility for victims of war and violence seeking political asylum in the US. 2018-Current.  

  • Taught English, life skills, and special education classes full-time at ACE Academy, a maximum-security prison for minors in Detroit/Highland Park. I also founded the ACE Academy Free Press, a newspaper written and produced by the incarcerated young men. 2011-2012.

  • Co-facilitated and taught a course on “White Racial Identity” at the University of Michigan for the Program on Intergroup Relations. 2008. 


Select Digital Advertising and Narrative Consulting: 



  • Spanish Language classes, Washtenaw College. “A” average. 2020.

  • Middlebury College internationally-regarded immersive summer French language program, 2018. Returned on a full, merit-based scholarship as a Kathryn Davis Fellow, 2019. 

  • Graduated BGS with service distinction from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 2008.

  • Graduated the New England Literature Program, a seven-week intensive writing course in Sebago, Maine. 2006

Languages, Volunteer and other Experience of Note:

  • Native English speaker. Speak and write French at B level and Spanish at A level, as defined by CEFR.

  • As a volunteer, facilitated writing and theater workshops in numerous Michigan prisons under the study of professor Buzz Alexander at the University of Michigan. 2005-2008.

  • Studied playwriting under Oyamo at the University of Michigan and co-founded ARTillary Theater Company, writing and performing in plays, most notably co-writing the produced full-length Sunday Morning, based on the Wallace Stevens poem of the same name. 2005-2008.

  • I hold US driver’s certifications in automobiles and motorcycles.

  • Certified in Michigan as a Diesel Mechanic. 

bottom of page