Chloe Zhao Becomes Second Woman to Win Best Director at Golden Globes: "Sometimes a First Feels Like a Long Time Coming"

Golden Globe Awards - Chloé Zhao, winner of Best Director
Courtesy of NBC

'Nomadland's' Zhao is the second woman to win best director at the Golden Globes, and the first Asian woman to win the prize.

Chloé Zhao has made history as the second woman ever to win the best director award at the Golden Globes, and the first Asian woman to do so.

Zhao won for her work on Nomadland, which follows Fern (Frances McDormand) as she embarks on a new life as a van-dwelling nomad, traveling the American West. (Nomadland also earned the best motion picture drama award.)

“Sometimes a first feels like a long time coming," said Zhao in the virtual press room, after her historic win. "I’m sure there are many others before me that deserve the same recognition. I just love what I do, I just really love it. If this means more people like me get to live their dream and get to do what I do, I’m happy.”

Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Regina King (One Night in Miami) were also nominated, marking a record-setting year for female director nominees, making up the majority of the category. David Fincher (Mank) and Aaron Sorkin (Trial of the Chicago 7) were also nominated.

During the E! red carpet pre-show King addressed the historic three nominations, saying, "For a lot of us it's bittersweet, the fact that it's 2021 and this is just happening and that this is the conversation. I'm happy that it is a conversation and I'm hoping that it remains a conversation."

Barbra Streisand was previously the only woman to ever win the best director prize — in 1984 for Yentl. Streisand was nominated a second time — the only woman to be nominated twice in the category— in 1992 for The Prince of Tides. Ava DuVernay was the last woman nominated for her work on Selma in 2015. Along with DuVernay and Streisand, the only other female directing nominees have been Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.

Ang Lee became the first (and only) other Asian director to take home the best director award, winning in 2000 for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain.

The Golden Globes have long shut out female directors from the best director category. At the 2018 ceremony, Natalie Portman criticized the lack of female director nominees while presenting the category. She went off-script to note, "And here are all the male nominees."

At this year's ceremony, presenter Bryce Dallas Howard noted, "For the first time in Golden Globes history, there are three women nominated for best director, motion picture. May there be many, many more."

The Golden Globe Awards ceremony is produced by Dick Clark Productions, a division of MRC, which is a co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter through a joint venture with Penske Media titled P-MRC.