Chloé Zhao, Emerald Fennell, And More Make History At The 2021 Academy Awards


Apr. 28 2021, Published 6:31 a.m. ET

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The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, honored the best films of 2020 and early 2021. Despite being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oscars’ nominees gathered for an in-person celebration this past Sunday. Besides the unprecedented era this show took place in, the monumental wins for women across the board made this ceremony legendary.

First Asian Woman To Win Best Director

For the first time in Oscars history, a woman of color won the trophy for ‘Best Director.’ Chloé Zhao claimed the prestigious Academy Award for her film “Nomadland” on Sunday. The 39-year-old became the second woman ever to win best director, after Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win for “The Hurt Locker,” in 2010. Zhao is also the first woman to score four nominations in the same year, garnering nods for best picture, best director, best film editing, and best adapted screenplay. She is also the first Asian woman to win the award.

Zhao presented an insightful acceptance speech while recalling memories from her childhood. Within her speech, Zhao stated, ‘”There’s one that I remember so dearly, it’s called the Three Character Classics. The first phrase goes… ‘People at birth are inherently good.’ Those six letters had such a great impact on me when I was a kid, and I still truly believe them today. Even though sometimes it might seem like the opposite is true, I have always found goodness in the people I met, everywhere I went in the world. So this is for anyone who had the faith, and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves, and to hold on to the goodness in each other, no matter how difficult it is to do that.”

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Timeless Talents

Ann Roth, who earlier this year had tied Agnés Varda and James Ivory as the oldest nominees in Oscar history at age 89, tied Ivory as oldest Oscar winner on Sunday. For her alluring work on “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Roth collected the costume design prize.

According to the Los Angeles Times, when Don Cheadle presented her the award, he claimed that Roth “reads the script and asks herself questions about the character like, ‘When she goes to bed, where are those clothes? Do they fall on the floor? Does she hang them up?’ From there, Ann builds the costumes which define the character.” The article further described Roth as a huge researcher which has rewarded her with an Oscar win, more than 100 Broadway credits, and 12 Tony nominations.

Emerald Fennell Beats The Odds

Emerald Fennell, The Promising Young Woman scribe, director, and producer took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, beating out Will Berson and Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah), Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Darius Marder and Abraham Marder (Sound of Metal), and Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7). She is the first woman to take home the trophy in 13 years, with her debut feature film from behind the camera. Fennel was also nominated for a total of five Oscars on Sunday for her comedy-thriller masterpiece.

According to People, Fennell utilized her groundbreaking achievement to give a heartwarming speech. Fennell claimed, “They said write a speech and I didn’t because I just didn’t think this would ever happen.” Fennell further added, ” But all I can say is — I’m trying very hard not to cry, which is very difficult as an English person, because I don’t cry ever — this film was made by the most incredible people in the world.”

Her Agenda sends a huge congratulations to the women who made history at the 93rd annual Oscars!

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By: Desjah Altvater

Through Her Agenda, Desjah aims to interview groundbreaking women and uniquely cover the pop culture and entertainment verticals. When she isn't telling people how to pronounce her name, she can be found watching Abbott Elementary and keeping up with everything but the Kardashians.

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