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Chloe Zhao becomes first Asian woman to win Best Director at Golden Globes

Chloe Zhao speaks at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con International on upcoming film The Eternals. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

Director Chloe Zhao made history Sunday, becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win Best Director at the Golden Globes.

Zhao directed Nomadland, a drama film that stars Academy Award-winner Frances McDormand and follows a widow traveling as a nomad in the American West. The story is based on the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, in which journalist Jessica Bruder chronicles the experiences of older Americans who travel around the country in search of seasonal work. 

 Nomadland also won Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes.

The 39 year old is the second woman to win Best Director at the Golden Globes, CNN reports. She was the first Asian woman to be nominated for the Best Director category, and also received a nomination for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture.

Three female directors including Zhao were nominated for Best Director for the 2021 ceremony, the highest-ever number of female directors nominated at a time. 

Zhao accepted her award via video at the ceremony. As part of her speech, she thanked “the nomads who shared their stories with us.” 

“Now, this is why I fell in love with making movies, and telling stories, because it gave us a chance to laugh and cry together, and it gave us a chance to learn from each other and have more compassion for each other,” Zhao said. “So thank you everyone who made it possible for me to do one I love.”

Even before getting to the Golden Globes, Nomadland won multiple awards, including the Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award, the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion Award, the Coronado Island Film Festival’s Leonard Maltin Tribute Award, the  San Diego International Film Festival’s Audience Choice Gala, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Best Director, the Chicago Film Critics Association’s awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography) and Gotham Independent Film Awards’ Best Feature Award.

Zhao is directing the forthcoming Marvel film The Eternals, set to release Nov. 5, 2021.

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