Following the critical acclaim for recent film Nomadland, an American drama film, written, directed, and edited by Chloé Zhao, it is no surprise that Zhao won the prize of Best Director at the Golden Globes. After Nomadland achieved 167 awards and 122 nominations, it is only logical that Zhao’s skillset is recognised globally.
Yet Chloé Zhao not only produced and directed a highly acclaimed film, but she also made history by becoming the first-ever Asian woman, and the second woman overall, to win a Golden Globe for Best Director.
Zhao’s win sends a vital message to women and Asians worldwide; that they belong in the film industry
Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker based in the United States who has been directing films since 2015. Her first feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015, and Zhao won four awards for her work. The Rider, her second film, received nominations for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Film and Best Director.
Zhao’s win sends a vital message to women and Asians worldwide; that they belong in the film industry. The Nomadland director is only the second woman to win the award, almost 40 years after Barbra Streisand in 1984. She is also the first Asian director to win.
Despite the Golden Globes existing for nearly eighty years, female directors have been underrepresented and marginalised within the category. Until 2021, only five female directors were nominated. Yet 2021 saw three women nominated for best director, including Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman and Regina King for One Night in Miami…, outnumbering the nominated men.
Chloé Zhao sets an example for young Asian girls who may feel like they do not belong within the entertainment industry
Chloé Zhao’s victory, not only as a woman but also as a woman of colour, demonstrates that women and people of colour can thrive within the film industry. Her victory was celebrated on social media, especially on the Chinese website Weibo, which praised the filmmaker for her major career milestone. While her win is a massive achievement for the Asian community, it is also essential to recognise that it took the Golden Globes seventy-seven years to award an Asian director.
During a time when racism, xenophobia and hate crimes against Asian-Americans has skyrocketed, Zhao’s success is even more prevalent. Increased hatred has prompted movements to stop hate against Asian Americans, including ‘Stop The AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate’ to spread awareness of the issues and inequalities that Asian Americans are increasingly experiencing. Zhao’s win therefore challenges the misconceptions and harmful stereotypes that have been recently attached to Asians, and encourage others to view the achievements of the Asian community.
Chloé Zhao sets an example for young Asian girls who may feel like they do not belong within the entertainment industry. By seeing Zhao’s achievements, they would feel inspired to follow in her footsteps. Ultimately, we should all be inspired by Zhao, as a director who is challenging the perception that the film industry is only for white, middle class, Western males through her continued success.
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