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The First Black Woman Nominated for an Editing Oscar Discusses Her Career Path

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Joi McMillon will attend the Oscars as the first black woman nominated in the editing category. But she says she initially struggled to land gigs.

McMillon, recognized for her work on Moonlight, told the Los Angeles Times that she initially wasn’t taken seriously by Hollywood. “For me, it was hard to break into scripted and features because I didn’t know anyone,” she said. “Everyone kept saying, ‘You don’t have the right credits or no feature film credits.’ ‘You’ve done a lot of Tyler Perry movies.’ I just wasn’t getting the job.”

But the editor suspects there was another factor behind her challenges. “I’ve heard stories of postproduction assistants getting bumped up to editors, but they’re white males,” she said. “After a while, you stop to think about: Why I am not getting these jobs? … Because I always tell people that racism is really subtle.”

She said she now makes a concerted effort to help other young editors break into the industry by sending along their résumés or connecting them with key industry players. “These groups are so specific, almost like cliques, so literally once you meet the right person, it’s a whole new world for you,” she said.

[The Los Angeles Times]

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Write to Samantha Cooney at samantha.cooney@time.com