FAIRBORN — Wright State University motion pictures graduate Hannah Beachler made history when she won an Academy Award for her work on the blockbuster film “Black Panther.”
Beachler, who graduated from Wright State in 2005, is the first African American to win an Oscar in the Best Production Design category. It was one of seven nominations “Black Panther” received, including one for Best Picture.
“I give this strength to all of those who come next,” Beachler said during her acceptance speech. “To keep going and never give up, and when you think it’s impossible, just remember to say this piece of advice I got from a very wise woman: ‘I did my best, and my best is good enough.’”
Beachler dedicated the Oscar to Carol Trevino, of Wilberforce, her Wright State classmate who was killed in an automobile accident while working on a film near Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2007.
“I’m stronger because of a woman who supported me every day that I wanted to give up. This is for you, my friend Carol Trevino. Rest in power,” Beachler said.
Beachler spent 13 months working on Marvel’s “Black Panther,” overseeing a $30 million art budget and a dedicated crew of several hundred people.
She spent two weeks preparing for her job interview with Marvel Studios. She spent $12,000 of her own money, hired a concept illustrator and created her own story, a 400-page book with references and blackboards for her presentation.
“You have to invest in yourself,” Beachler told Wright State students during a talk she gave at the university in 2017. “I believed in the world I created. You have to believe in yourself and your abilities.”
Whether creating films, telling stories or designing a project, Beachler told students to do things the audience does not expect. “If somebody says take a right turn, turn left,” she said. “Be fearless.”
Beachler was named the 2018 Alumna of the Year by the Wright State Alumni Association.
She was also the production designer on “Moonlight,” which in 2017 won the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama. She received the 2017 Art Directors Guild Award for excellence in production design and art direction for her work on “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s visual album that originally aired on HBO.
Beachler was the production designer on “Miles Ahead,” a biographical film based on the life of jazz musician Miles Davis; “Creed,” the seventh film in the “Rocky” series; and “Fruitvale Station,” which won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film and the Audience Award for Best Film at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013.
Beachler has said the education she received in Wright State’s Motion Pictures Program helped prepare her for her career. She was exposed to many films and literature, allowing her to talk on the same level as directors do, she said.