From the bottom of the movie biz to the Oscars

Black History Month

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WGNO) – Production Designer Hannah Beachler is a woman whose hustle and grit has taken her to historic heights.

Beachler describes herself as “a unicorn in the industry.”

“I’m a dark-skinned black woman. That does not exist as a production designer anywhere in the world, at this level,” said Beachler.

But her success goes so much further than that. Not only did Beachler win an Oscar for Best Production Design, she was the first African-American to be nominated in the category, as well as the first to win.

Beachler’s journey to where she is now was not handed to her. She started at the bottom of the film business after moving to New Orleans. Beachler says she did whatever job came along and no task was beneath her.

“Someone said I need you to clean the bathroom. I built shelves in there. I went out spent my own money and bought brooms and things and they walked in and said, ‘I just asked you to clean the bathroom,’ but I got another, I got another job,” she said.

It was that hustle and perseverance at every turn that continued to elevate Beachler from painting and building to declaring herself a production designer.

“Nobody else knew that, but I woke up that day and decided and I went forward with that in my head. Now I’m a production designer,” said Beachler.

As a Production Designer, she has credits ranging from “Black Panther” to “Moonlight” to Beyonce’s “Lemonade.”

Beachler goes on to say that the responsibility of having more people of color in production roles rests with the movie business.

“As hard as the industry works to keep minorities out, they will have to work as hard to include. Because it’s not charity, and often times inclusion is looked at as ‘well it’s charity.’ No, it’s inclusion, because I deserve to be here,” she added.

Production for “Black Panther II” is underway, which will keep Beachler busy through 2021. One thing is certain, if she has any say in the matter, we will continue to see the work of Hannah Beachler for years to come.

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