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Chloé Zhao Makes History for Asian Women with Golden Globes Win

Chloé Zhao made history this weekend, becoming the first Asian woman to ever take home the Golden Globe for Best Director.

On Sunday night, the 38-year-old won the statue during the virtual ceremony for her work on Nomadland, a film starring Frances McDormand as a middle-aged woman who lost everything in the Great Recession and now lives out of her van, wandering America. The film is based on the 2017 book by Jessica Bruder titled, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century. (See the CircleAround profile of Bruder from this past summer here.)

I’m sure there’s many others before me who deserve the same recognition. I just love what I do. You know?

Zhao was the first woman to be given the honor since Barbra Streisand won for Yentl nearly 40 years ago. Alongside Zhao, her fellow nominees for director of films in 2020 included Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, David Fincher for Mank, Regina King for One Night in Miami, and Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7. This cohort of nominees had already made history prior to Sunday's show as it was the first time in the show’s tenure that more than one woman was nominated for Best Director.

“Sometimes a first feels like a long time coming," said Zhao in a video reacting to her win. "I’m sure there’s many others before me who deserve the same recognition. I just love what I do. You know? 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."

She went on to say later that she hopes her film helps make people more accepting of nontraditional living.
“If this means that more people when they walk down the road and see someone who is not living in a traditional home — an alternative lifestyle — you wave and say 'Hi,' it will make their day," she said. "The recognition, the awareness that I think it will bring to the nomadic community, is a great thing.”
Nomadland is currently in theaters and streaming on Hulu.
This post is part of a month-long March CircleAround series, tied to Women's History Month — the first since the global pandemic that has disproportionately impacted women around the world — in which we asked writers to explore the topic of women's history in America, from the past to very much the present. To see all the posts in the series — including relevant news stories — visit hereAnd if you'd like to contribute to the series, send us your thoughts to or post on our "2021 Inspiration Wall."

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