Women's History Month
A Woman’s Work: Meet Euzhan Palcy, Hollywood’s First Black Female to Direct a Major Studio Film
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Euzhan Palcy is a French-born film director from Martinique. Her interest in film began early on, but it was 1975 when the daring director left home and traveled to Paris, France to earn her master’s degree in French Literature, in theater. Less than a decade later, Palcy directed the Oscar-nominated, MGM studio film, A Dry White Season, which made her the Black female director to be produced by a major Hollywood studio. It also made her the only woman to direct renowned actor Marlon Brando, who she brought back to the big screen after a nine-year hiatus.
Palcy made history, but that doesn’t mean her road to changing the path for women in film was easy. In fact, it came with a lot of work.
The same year the French-born director year left to attend graduate school, she wrote and directed her first movie, The Messenger. Eight years later, she directed her famed Black Shack Alley (1983), which is known as Sugar Cane Alley to many. Then, she defined #girlpower and #blackgirlmagic when she became an Oscar-nominated triple threat (director, producer, writer) with the making and release of A Dry White Season. Her storytelling visuals also made her the first Black director to win a Cesar Award, which is the highest French film award out.
Euzhan Palcy’s love and passion for film paved the way not just for women, but for Black women, in Hollywood - whether an actress, director, or writer.
***Director Euzhan Palcy giving some directions to the actor, Marlon Brando, and the Canadian actor Donald Sutherland on the set of the film A Dry White Season (1989).***