In recent years, Hollywood has made strides righting the imbalance in opportunity, pay, and recognition between men and women in the entertainment industry. With the rise of the influential TimesUp movement comes an even higher demand that this disparity be overcome, and cinematographer Rachel Morrison is a shining light for those eager to see deserving women receive praise for their incredible work.
Morrison has become the first female Director of Photography nominated for an Oscar in Cinematography for her work on Dee Ree’s “Mudbound.”
While her nomination as the first female DP is inspiring and exciting, Morrison strongly insists that it is more important that “people think of us as directors of photography first and foremost.” Of course the sheer fact that she is female shouldn’t be the defining factor of Morrison’s success, but it nonetheless serves as validation for women aspiring to do great things in the entertainment industry that times are changing. Morrison tells Variety, “This nomination is so much bigger than me or my work. I hope it tells women all over the world that there’s nothing they can’t do, including cinematography.”
If this nomination weren’t enough to catapult Morrison into the spotlight, the cinematographer is the recent subject of even more praise for her work as DP on Marvel’s latest film, “Black Panther”. The movie, which was hyped up quite a bit before its release, raked in enormously successful box-office results, with Morrison’s contribution to the project serving as a highlight of the film’s overall quality.
Morrison, who studied cinematography at NYU and then went on to serve as DP on MTV shows like “The Hills” and “Room Raiders”, began her career in feature films with 2013 “Fruitvale Station”. The cinematographer has fancied small-budget projects, having been a fan of independent films since a young age, but recently made the jump to bigger features, where she has more freedom to explore her creative vision. This certainly shows as her work continues to attract attention and praise from actors, directors, and viewers alike.
In an interview with PEOPLE Magazine on her Oscar nomination, Morrison says, “Obviously this is a dream, it’s crazy.” She continues, “I don’t think I really had any idea, I guess because of the historical significance, that it was going to be such a big deal. I think it’s a shame it didn’t come sooner and didn’t happen for women like Ellen Kuras (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) or Mandy Walker (Hidden Figures) who have been making incredible work, but I’ll take it and hopefully it’s going to pave the way for many many more.”
With less than 4% of cinematographers to work on the top 250 film releases in 2017 being women, Morrison’s work and recognition is a huge step for females in all creative industries, and I, for one, am hoping for a first female win in Cinematography at this year’s Oscars.