Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker best known for her work in American indie films, all of which have received tremendous amounts of critical praise.
Zhao was born in Beijing, China. At the age of 14, she attended a boarding school in the U.K., where she learned English. She later moved to Los Angeles to finish her high school education, where she lived alone in a studio apartment in Koreatown.
After studying political science at Mount Holyoke, she enrolled in the Graduate Studies film program at NYU in 2010. As a student in New York, she wrote, produced and directed a short film called Daughters, which earned her two awards—the Best Student Live Action Short at the 2010 Palm Springs International ShortFest, and the Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Cinequest Film Festival.
Still a student at NYU, Zhao then wrote, directed, produced the film Songs My Brother Taught Me (2015), with her classmate, Joshua James Richards, who did the cinematography. The film earned her an Independent Spirit Awards nomination for Best First Feature.
Zhao's second feature film, The Rider (2017), was a drama about a rodeo rider who suffers severe brain damage while in the ring. The film was another hit for Zhao, earning her a nomination for Best Director and Best Feature at the 33rd Independent Spirit Awards, and an Art Cinema Award for Best Feature. She also became the first person to receive the Independent Spirit Bonnie Award.
Her most film Nomadland(2020) has brought her even more critical acclaim and international recognition, earning her a multitude of awards and nominations. When it premiered at the Venice Film Festival, the film earned the Golden Lion, an award given to the best film at the festival. She also received the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2021, Zhao received a Golden Globe Award for Best Director, making her the first Asian woman to win the award.
Zhao won Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, making history as the first woman of color and second woman ever to win in the latter category. Nomadland also won Best Picture.
Zhao now looks to explore different stories, having directed the Marvel blockbuster, The Eternals, which is set to release on November 5, 2021.
Zhao lives with Joshua James Richards in Ojai, California, in the Topatopa Mountains outside of Los Angeles. They have two dogs, Taco and Rooster, and chickens, Red, Cebe, and Lucille.
The Rider (2017)
Songs My Brother Taught Me (2015)