Chloe Zhao Becomes First Woman of Color to Win Best Director at the Oscars

Nomadland also claims the award for Best Picture at Academy Awards

Chloe Zhao Oscars
Oscar winner Chloe Zhao (pictured left), photo by Joshua James Richards

    Chloe Zhao has made Oscar history by becoming the first woman of color to ever to win Best Director. Her film Nomadland also claimed the top prize as Best Picture at tonight’s Academy Awards, while the film’s star Frances McDormand walked away with Best Actress.

    Zhao’s Oscar nomination alone was historic, as she was the first woman of color ever up for Best Director. In winning the award, she enters the history books alongside Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) as the only two women to win in the category.

    Zhao was a heavy favorite entering the night, as she had previously won Best Director at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, and the Directors Guild of America Awards.


    Her accomplishment is not without controversy, however, as Nomadland has been largely censored in China due to past comments she made about the country’s government. In a recently surfaced 2013 interview, Zhao described China as “a place where there are lies everywhere,” adding, “You felt like you were never going to be able to get out. A lot of info I received when I was younger was not true, and I became very rebellious toward my family and my background.”

    As a result, mentions of Nomadland have been scrubbed from Chinese social media platforms and theatrical screenings of the film are prohibited in the country.

    Click here for our complete coverage of the 2021 Academy Awards.

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