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Chloe Zhao Makes History with Best Director Oscar Win for Nomadland

93rd Academy Awards - Arrivals
Posted at 9:38 PM, Apr 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 00:38:46-04

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Filmmaker Chloe Zhao spoke Sunday evening about the power of storytelling with the cast and crew of best picture winner "Nomadland" -- after making history as the first Asian woman to win best director.

Zhao is also the first woman of color and only the second woman to ever win an Oscar for helming a feature film.

"It's pretty fabulous to be a woman in 2021," Zhao said when asked if the win changes things for women.

"I'm extremely lucky to be able to do what I love for a living, and if this win means more people get to live their dreams, I'm extremely grateful," she added.

Zhao was also a producer on the film along with Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher and Dan Janvey.

McDormand, who was also awarded a best actress Oscar for her role in the film, did not appear backstage with her co-producers, but scurried over at one point to swap statuettes with Zhao and wave to reporters.

"My happiest moment tonight was when Fran won," the director said. "She really is `Nomadland."'

Zhao was asked whether she thought the award would be an inspiration to other Asian filmmakers.

"For Asian filmmakers, I think for all filmmakers, we have to stay true to who we are and we have to tell the stories that we feel connected to. We shouldn't feel like there's only a certain type of story we have to tell. But it's a way for us to connect with other people, that's why I love filmmaking."

Peter Spears talked about getting the film made during a pandemic.

"The ability to finish this movie in the midst of a pandemic and then to release the movie in the midst of a pandemic was a Herculean effort," Spears said.

Though unplanned, the timing seemed to lend the story of "Nomadland" -- about people living on the margins -- even more power.

"It seems like the timing was right, and the story that we wanted to tell ... really resonated in a way for people, about community and our shared humanity," Spears said.