Chloé Zhao and Joshua James Richards are recognizing the women who starred in their Oscar-nominated film Nomadland.
The director and cinematographer brought Linda May and Swankie as their dates to the Academy Awards. The pair played a pivotal role in the screenwriting process, and were so helpful, Chloé wrote them into the movie.
The group of four stopped to chat with E! News' Giuliana Rancic, with Linda May describing how "surreal" it was to be on the red carpet at Union Station. As she put it, "[It's] nothing that I ever expected would happen to me."
Swankie chimed in, "What she said!"
"And I'm not an actor," Swankie continued. "It's not my acting that's Oscar-worthy, it's my nomadic lifestyle that is Oscar-worthy."
Chloé added that Swankie and Linda's life helped to inspire her filmmaking process, revealing that some of the scenes were actually "spontaneous."
She explained, "It's important because the lives of these wonderful people, sometimes to capture it, we have to have that freedom."
Chloé shared that she finds great joy in this flexibility, because, as a filmmaker, she sees herself as a nomad too.
"I feel like sometimes filmmaking could be a quite lonely and transient existence," Chloé explained. "We go from movies to movies to movies and having been with a lot of nomads, [they] also live a transient life, but there's a great sense of community that they've built for themselves, that you feel like you're part of something bigger. And I try to see things the same way."
At tonight's ceremony, Nomadland is up for awards in four categories, including Best Director. If Chloé wins the honor, she will be the first nonwhite woman to be recognized in the category and the second female director to win overall.
To see the complete list of nominees, click here!
Watch the E! After Party: 2021 Oscars special tonight at 11 p.m. for a recap of the Academy Awards' biggest moments!