Though the 93rd annual Academy Awards looked a little different than what we’ve become used to in years past, the much-anticipated ceremony was packed with many priceless moments. Aired live from Union Station in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 25, the night was full of historic wins and nominations. At the forefront of these was Chinese director Chloé Zhao, who won the Oscar for Best Director for her award-winning film Nomadland.
Zhao’s win is historic for a number of reasons—including the fact that she is only the second woman in the nearly 100-year history of the Oscars to take home the coveted award in that category. The talented director joins a circle of only six other women directors to have ever been nominated for the honor—including Emerald Fennell, who was nominated alongside Zhao this year for her film Promising Young Woman. Preceded only by Katheryn Bigelow, who won for her film The Hurt Locker in 2010, Zhao is also the first woman of color and first Asian woman to ever be nominated for and win Best Director.
Joining Zhao in making history at the 2021 Oscars as Asian women in Hollywood was Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn. Recognized for her performance in the acclaimed 2020 film Minari, Youn became the first Korean and second Asian woman to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Both Nomadland and Minari were nominated in the Best Picture category. However, Zhao’s film went on to secure the Oscar for Best Picture, with the film’s leading actress Frances McDormand also taking home the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.