Chloé Zhao makes Oscar history

Chloé Zhao won best director and her film 'Nomadland' won best picture at the Academy Awards Sunday night.
Chris Pizzello—Pool/Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Scam artists impersonate MacKenzie Scott, Simone Biles ditches Nike for Athleta, and Chloé Zhao makes history at the Oscars. Have a great Monday.

– And the winner is. Last night brought us an unusual Oscars ceremony, with nominees scattered at tables at a train station, jokes eschewed for biographical fun facts, and an anticlimactic closing award. But there was an upside to the ceremony—one that could even be considered unusual, too, given the Oscars’ history awarding female filmmakers.

Chloé Zhao took home the best director award for her best picture-winning film Nomadland, making her the first woman of color and just the second woman to ever win the directing award in 93 years of Oscar history. She competed against Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell in the category, marking the first time two women have been nominated for best director in the same year. It’s worth noting, too, that Zhao’s win is the first time the directing award has gone to a woman for a movie about a woman (in this case, the character played by best actress winner Frances McDormand); the only other female best director winner was Kathryn Bigelow for the male-driven Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker.

The win cements Zhao’s status as one of the most in-demand directors in Hollywood; her next major project is a big-budget Marvel movie. Wearing her signature braids and a pair of sneakers, Zhao quoted a classic Chinese poem in her acceptance speech that translates to “people at birth are inherently good.” (Her speech, however, was censored in China.)

There were a few other highlights from the night. Ann Roth won the costume design award for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom—and at 89, is the oldest woman to win an Academy Award and the second-oldest person to do so (the record-holder has her beat by just over 90 days). Yuh-Jung Youn, 73, stole the show with her acceptance speech for her best supporting actress win for her role in Minari. “Mommy worked so hard,” she said, addressing her two sons who “made me go out and work.” Between those two awards and McDormand’s win, the Academy chose to honor older women throughout the night (notable when you consider the average age of a best actress winner: 36).

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom win in best makeup and hairstyling made them the first Black women to win the award. And Regina King started off the night on a high note, acting as host (although her film One Night in Miami was also nominated) and easing us into the nontraditional ceremony and acknowledging the pain of the past year.

It’s a bit ironic that Zhao triumphed in the category that has most eluded female filmmakers in a year when most of us couldn’t see her work in theaters. But the good news is, there’s still time to check it out—on Hulu for now, and for years to come.

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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The pantsuit designed for working from home Fortune

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"I stopped looking for my own fights—I just fought on behalf of other people."

-Zhang Weili, China’s most famous mixed martial arts fighter. She defended, but lost, her UFC title on Saturday. 

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