Metro Weekly

Watch: History-making trans director Yance Ford reacts to Oscar nomination

With documentary "Strong Island," Ford becomes the first transgender director nominated for an Oscar

Yance Ford (R) and partner Amanda — Photo: Facebook

Yance Ford has made history as the first transgender director to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Ford’s film Strong Island, which tells the story of his brother’s murder in 1992, was nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

The Netflix-distributed film examines the violent death of 24-year-old William Ford Jr, who was allegedly shot dead by 19-year-old white mechanic Mark Reilly after Ford came to collect his car from Reilly’s repair shop.

William Ford, Jr — Photo: Netflix

Reilly ultimately wasn’t convicted, an all-white jury determining that his actions constituted “reasonable fear” and were in self-defense. Reports from the time indicated that the police and prosecution tried to focus on Ford’s appearance and background, rather than Reilly’s apparent guilt.

The film’s tagline is: “The police had turned my brother into the prime suspect in his own murder.”

Ford’s film doesn’t show Reilly, instead focusing on the fallout of the verdict on his family, as well as discussing historical injustice, the threat of a hostile or imbalanced judicial system, and the fear of being black in America today.

Critics have lauded Yance’s documentary, with Entertainment Weekly calling it a “poignant, methodical portrait of loss” and the New Yorker highlighting Yance’s “grief-stricken, self-interrogating aesthetic.”

Should Yance prevail on March 4 at the 90th Academy Awards, he will become the first transgender person to ever win an Oscar.

And, thanks to a video posted on social media, we can watch Yance and his partner Amanda’s reaction to his historic nomination! Watch the moment of joy below:

The 90th Academy Awards are Sunday, March 4, at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at

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