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2021 Academy Awards Nominations: Already A Win For Women and People of Color

2021 Academy Awards Nominations: Already A Win For Women and People of Color

Oscars season is upon us. The 93rd Academy Awards will be on the 26th of April, and it’ll honor the best films released from January 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021. However, what makes this year’s Academy Awards special isn’t just the diverse set of films involved. It’s also about the men and women who were nominated.

Chloé Zhao, Emerald Fennell, Riz Ahmed, and Steven Yeun make history by getting nods from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. A celebration for women and people of color in film, indeed!


It’s the first time the academy recognizes two women for their directing

Zhao and Fennell become the first 2 females nominated for best director at the same year. As a matter of fact, this makes the total of women in this category to 5. Bear in mind that the Academy Awards is on its 93rd year, and the last time a female director was ever given the nod was in 2017. Greta Gerwig was nominated for the movie “Lady Bird”. The first time was back in 1977 — Lina Wertmüller for “Seven Beauties”.

2021 Oscar NomadlandCourtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker known for her indie films. She wrote, edited, and directed “Nomadland”.  Zhao is also the first female director of Chinese descent nominated for this category. Most recently, she’s worked with Disney Studio’s Marvel Cinematic Universe for “Eternals”.

2021 Oscar Promising Young WomanCourtesy of Focus Features

Emerald Fennell is an English actress and author. “Promising Young Woman” is her first full-length feature as a director. Her most recent work as an actress was for Netflix’s “The Crown”, where she played the role of Camilla Parker Bowles. On the other hand, this is the first time she’s nominated for the academy.

Both “Nomadland” and “Promising Young Woman” are in the running for the Academy Award’s best picture.


Two men of Asian descent are nominated by the academy for best actor

A British Pakistani and a South Korean-born actor have been given recognition for their acting for the same year. This is another first for the Academy Awards — Riz Ahmed and Steven Yeun have made Oscars history for their nominations alone.

The last time where an actor with Asian heritage won best actor was in 1982 — Sir Ben Kingsley, whose father is Gujarati Indian, played Mahatma Gandhi in “Gandhi”.  He was nominated again in 2003 for his role in “House of Sand and Fog”. However, he lost to Sean Penn in “Mystic River”.

2021 Oscar Sound of MetalCourtesy of Amazon Studios

Riz Ahmed’s parents moved to England from Pakistan in the 1970s. He is an activist, a film/TV/voice actor, musician, and a rapper. He was in Star Wars spinoff “Rogue One” and Sony Pictures’ “Venom”. The film that gave him the best actor nomination is “Sound of Metal”.

He plays Ruben Stone, a punk-metal drummer who starts becoming deaf. Meanwhile, this is Ahmed’s first nomination for the academy.

2021 Oscar MinariCourtesy of A24

Steven Yeun is a Korean-American actor, and this is first time being nominated. He used to play Glenn Rhee in “The Walking Dead”. In “Minari”, Yeun is a South Korean immigrant in the 1980s. He moves his family from California to Arkansas, where hopes to make ends meet.

“Sound of Metal” and Minari” are also nominated for best picture.


Already a win for women and people of color

The nominees have already won in our books. Being chosen among several others is an honor in its own, and we can’t be any more proud. Their nominations aren’t just for the sake of it — it represents more than the prestige. Furthermore, knowing that the academy’s old #OscarsSoWhite ways are slowing becoming a memory is also something worth applauding. In conclusion, talented women and people of color in film are now getting the attention they long deserve. About time, too!





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All GIFs used in this article were made from

The featured image is courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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