(WLAX/WEUX) – Tonight, we celebrate black history by meeting a production designer. Most people think that working in the movie business would take you to Hollywood, but our travels while honoring black history brought us to New Orleans, where we met a woman who made a big splash on the silver screen. As you will see, her hustle and grit has taken her to historic heights
For Black Panther, this is the first Oscar nomination for Hannah Beachler, she is the first African American to be nominated in this category.
Hannah Beachler Production Designer said, “I’m a unicorn in the industry. I’m a dark-skinned black woman. That does not exist as a production designer anywhere in the world, at this level.”
Make that an Oscar-winning production designer with credits ranging from the aforementioned black panther, to moonlight to Beyoncé’s lemonade but what is the job of production designer on a movie?
Beachler said, “I sit down with the director and we talk about the mood, and the look, and the colors that we’re going to use to portray whatever type of psychology.”
Hannah Beachler started at the bottom of the film business after moving to New Orleans. Yes, because of state tax credits there is a thriving movie and tv production business in Louisiana and Beachler did whatever job come along, and no task was beneath her.
Beachler said, “Someone said I need you to clean the bathroom. I built shelves in there. I went out and spent my own money and bought brooms and things and they walked in and said I just asked you to clean the bathroom ‘but I got another job, I got another job.”
It was that hustle, that perseverance at every turn that continued to elevate Beachler from building sets to painting until one day she decided she had enough experience and had learned enough to declare herself a production designer.
“Nobody else knew that, but I woke up that day and decided and I went forward with that in my head. Now I’m a production designer,” said Beachler.
Beachler also says that the responsibility of having more people of color in production roles rests with the movie businesses as well.
Beachler said, “As hard as the industry works to keep minorities out, they will have to work as hard to include. Because it’s not a charity and often times inclusion is looked at as ‘well it’s charity.’ no, it’s inclusion because I deserve to be here.”
But make no mistake, hard work is required to get hired Hannah Beachler production designer
“It’s a fine line. You can’t be a bother, but you can’t be afraid. So, you need to find that sort of ‘where’s the pocket of how I get in,” said Beachler.
Production for Black Panther II is underway, which will keep Beachler busy through the next year but one thing is certain, if she has any say in the matter, we will continue to see the work of Hannah Beachler for years to come.
Beachler said, “I feed on the challenge because I am such that if you put it before me and say maybe you can’t do it, I say maybe I can.”
As many have learned, we should never doubt Hannah Beachler. In New Orleans, LBJ reporting.