Hannah Beachler became the first African-American nominated for an Oscar in production design Tuesday.
Her nomination comes for Marvel hit Black Panther, for which she created the fictional world of Wakanda, which involved extensive research in South Africa. In the category, she’s nominated alongside set decorator Jay Hart.
“I’m crying one minute then doing a little dance the next second and then crying again thinking of the weightiness of it, as well as the humbleness of it and the joy of it. But you do feel a certain responsibility,” she said. “It means breaking down walls … for young women of color and boys and girls of color to see that this is not impossible.”
“This is also for [production designer] Wynn Thomas because of the work he’s done over 30 years and the representation he’s given so many young women and men of color, myself included,” she adds. “It made me fearless in the sense that my thought was always, well Wynn does this so I can do this. And that’s the sort of attitude I had taken from my career, I just have to do everything I can and it’ll come to me. I’ll have to work hard and that’s what I’m gonna do.”
She also looked to history and added, “I’m always aware of those that came before me who died for me to be here and free and doing the work that I love. So I have to always pay that forward, I have to always return that to them,” she said.
Beachler expressed that she’s grateful to Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, Marvel and all of the filmmakers. An Ohio native, Beachler first worked with Coogler on his first feature, 2013 indie Fruitvale Station, which went on to win awards including Sundance’s grand jury prize and audience award.
Her credits include Barry Jenkins’ best-picture winner Moonlight, Rocky film Creed and Beyonce’s Lemonade.
“I hope I’m the last of the first here,” she says. “And now it’s just going to be business as usual and people from all backgrounds and all colors and all religions could do this work and maybe I’ve made it a little easier for them.”
Also nominated for the Oscar in production designer are Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton, for The Favourite; Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas, for First Man; John Myhre and Gordon Sim, for Mary Poppins Returns; and Eugenio Caballero and Barbara Enriquez, for Roma.