Updated Apr 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Chloé Zhao becomes first woman of color to win Oscars Best Director

Chloé Zhao accepts the Directing award for 'Nomadland' onstage during the 93rd Annual Academy Awards at Union Station on April 25, 2021 in Los Angeles
Chloé Zhao accepting the Best Director Oscar onstage during the 93rd Annual Academy Awards at Union Station in Los Angeles on Sunday. Photo: Todd Wawrychuk/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

Chloé Zhao made history on Sunday when she was awarded the Best Director Oscar for "Nomadland" — making her the first female of color and first Asian woman to win the prestigious prize in the Academy Awards' 93-year history to win.

Why it matters: Zhao's victory is a win for Asian women in Hollywood, who are often overlooked for main character, producer and director roles. "Nomadland" went on to win the Best Picture Oscar.

What they're saying: In an acceptance speech, Zhao recited a poem that inspired her as a young girl in Mandarin.

  • "People at birth are inherently good," she said, translating the poem. "Those six letters had such a great impact on me as a kid and I still truly believe them today."

Be smart: Zhao is just the second woman in history to win the Oscar for Best Director, following Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker" in 2010.

The big picture: Diversity was highlighted more on Sunday during the 93rd Academy Awards than perhaps any other show in Oscars history.

  • Following Zhao's win, Yuh-Jung Youn, who is South Korean, won the award for best supporting actress for her role in "Minari."

Go deeper: Read more on the Oscars in Monday's Axios AM newsletter

Editor's note: The story corrects Zhao's nationality. She is Chinese, not Chinese American.

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