Two Asian women have made Oscar history. Beijing-born Chloe Zhao is only the second woman and first non-white woman to win the Best Director prize at the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, which was held on April 26 morning Singapore time.
Actress Youn Yuh-Jung, 73, picked up the Best Supporting Actress prize for her role in the immigrant drama Minari, making her the first South Korean to win an acting award at the Oscars.
The 39-year-old Zhao – known as Zhao Ting in China – is the third person of Asian descent to win the Best Director award, after South Korean Bong Joon-ho (the black comedy Parasite, 2020) and Taiwanese Lee Ang (Brokeback Mountain, 2005; and Life Of Pi, 2012). She is the second woman to win after Kathryn Bigelow, director of the war diary The Hurt Locker (2009).
Her movie, Nomadland, a drama about a woman who starts a new life as a van-dweller, also won Best Picture. Frances McDormand, who plays the lead character of Fern, won an Oscar for Best Actress. The three trophies make the film the biggest winner of the ceremony.
Youn’s performance as the energetic grandmother in Minari was delivered largely in Korean. It goes some way in addressing the criticisms levelled at the mostly white and mostly English-speaking Academy voters, who last year failed to nominate any member of the South Korean cast of Parasite.
Check out the rest of our highlights from this year’s event which aired this morning.