“Strong Island‘s” Yance Ford made Academy Award history Monday by becoming the first trans director to be nominated for an Oscar.
“I think that everybody out there should know that there is a generation of trans directors who are coming for their Oscars,” Ford, 45, told Entertainment Weekly. “So this might be the first, but it certainly won’t be the last.”
“Strong Island,” released by Netflix, received the nod for Best Documentary Feature. Ford’s first-person feature told the story of his brother, William, a black man who was shot to death in Central Islip by a white car mechanic in 1992. The case never went to trial.
“The very exciting thing for me when I think about history is that this film is a correction to the historical record of my brother’s life,” Ford told EW. “And if this nomination helps to magnify that and if by making history I helped to magnify that, then… it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.”
Ford, whose résumé includes 10 years as a producer at the PBS documentary showcase “POV,” told Newsday’s Rafer Guzmán in September that he describes himself as a product of the tail end of the Great Migration of blacks from the rural South to the urban North. Ford’s mother, Barbara, grew up in South Carolina and recalls teaching her own mother, a tobacco-crop worker, how to read; her father, an asthmatic, waited so long for treatment in a segregated hospital that he died there. Determined to improve their lives, Ford’s parents moved to Brooklyn in the 1960s and then, in 1972, claimed their share of the American dream by purchasing a home in Central Islip.
“Most of the people who left the South during the Great Migration went from the South to the city — and their kids would go from the city to the suburbs,” Ford told Newsday. He added: “My folks went South-city-suburbs in one fell swoop.”