Nia DaCosta

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Nia DaCosta
Born (1989-11-08) November 8, 1989 (age 33)
  • Film director
  • Screenwriter
Years active2009–present

Nia DaCosta (born November 8, 1989) is an American film director and screenwriter. She wrote and directed the crime thriller film Little Woods (2018), winning the Nora Ephron Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival.[1] She also directed the horror film Candyman (2021).[1] In August 2020, DaCosta was hired to direct The Marvels, becoming the youngest filmmaker to direct a Marvel film, beating the record set by Ryan Coogler.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

DaCosta was born on November 8, 1989, in Brooklyn and raised in Harlem. She is of Jamaican descent.[1] Her original aspiration was to become a poet. When DaCosta was 16 years old, she took an A.P. English class, where she was exposed to the work of Joseph Conrad upon reading his book Heart of Darkness. [1] DaCosta became obsessed with films after watching Apocalypse Now, which led her to study cinema from the New Hollywood era, finding inspiration in directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Sidney Lumet, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg.[1] Citing Scorsese in particular as her primary influence, DaCosta enrolled at his alma mater,[3] New York University Tisch School of the Arts. There, she met Scorsese while working as a television production assistant.[1]


After finishing school, DaCosta began working as a television production assistant, where she worked with filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Steve McQueen, and Steven Soderbergh.[1] After DaCosta wrote the script for Little Woods, it was one of the 12 projects chosen for the 2015 Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs,[4] where she became friends with Tessa Thompson, who was later cast in the role of Ollie.[5] She funded a short film version of what would eventually become her first feature film through Kickstarter with the help of 72 backers, who eventually raised $5,100.[6] After finishing Little Woods, DaCosta directed two episodes of the third season of the crime drama Top Boy. While working on the series in London, she learned that she was on the shortlist to direct Jordan Peele's revival of the classic horror film Candyman. DaCosta's film Candyman made her the first African-American female director to have a film debut at the top of the box office.[7]

Little Woods[edit]

The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018, and was awarded the Nora Ephron award for "excellence in storytelling by a female writer or director".[8] The film's distribution rights were bought by Neon and was released in theaters in the United States on April 19, 2019.[9] DaCosta cites Debra Granik's Winter's Bone and Courtney Hunt's Frozen River were sources of inspiration for DaCosta's script.[10] In a 2018 interview, DaCosta stated the importance to her of telling stories of "women...who are active" rather than passive figures in movies led by men.[11]


DaCosta was chosen to helm what was described as a spiritual sequel to the original Candyman (1992) in 2018. The film returned to the Chicago neighborhood of the first film.[12] The film was produced by Jordan Peele through Monkeypaw Productions, with Peele citing the original as "a landmark film for Black representation in the horror genre".[12] Yahya Abdul-Mateen II starred in the film,[13] with Tony Todd returning as the film's titular villain,[14] and Teyonah Parris[15] and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett[16] co-starring. Production began in the spring of 2019, and wrapped the following September.[12][17] Universal Pictures released the film theatrically on August 27, 2021 and received positive reviews.[18][19]

The Marvels[edit]

In August 2020, DaCosta was hired to direct the upcoming Marvel Studios film The Marvels, the sequel to Captain Marvel (2019),[20][2] after having initially approached them with a Fantastic Four / X-Men crossover movie.[21] It is currently scheduled to be released on July 28, 2023.[22] This is set to be the first Marvel film directed by an African American woman.

Awards and nominations[edit]

DaCosta was the first African American woman to have a #1 film at the American box office. Her first film, Little Woods, received the Nora Ephron award at the Tribeca Film Festival for "excellence in storytelling by a female writer or director."[1] The film also won Best Narrative Feature and Best Director at the Fargo Film Festival 2019.[23] She also received nominations for her film Candyman for "Most Anticipated Film for the Rest of 2021" at the 2021 Hollywood Critics Association,[24] and won the awards for "Directors to Watch", and "Best Horror Film" respectively.[25][26] With her directorial work in Candyman, DaCosta received her first nomination at the 53rd NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture,[27] and at the Black Reel and Awards for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Screenplay, Adapted or Original.[28]



Year Title Director Writer Ref.
2019 Little Woods Yes Yes
2021 Candyman Yes Yes
2023 The Marvels Yes Yes [29]
TBA The Water Dancer Yes No [30]

Short films[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes Ref.
2009 The Black Girl Dies Last Yes Yes No Also actor [31][32]
2013 Night and Day Yes No Yes Also editor
2014 Celeste No Yes No
Livelihood No Yes No


Year Title Notes
2019 Top Boy Episodes "Bonfire Night" and "Smoke Gets in Your Hands"
2022 Ms. Marvel Episode: "No Normal"; mid-credits scene[33]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Obenson, Tambay (April 18, 2019). "How Nia DaCosta Went From Wide-Eyed NYU Film Grad to Hollywood Director on the Rise". IndieWire. Retrieved August 20, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ a b Vary, Adam B. (August 6, 2020). "'Captain Marvel 2' Lands Nia DaCosta as Director". Variety.
  3. ^ "Candyman director Nia DaCosta: 'It is shocking the way people have talked to me'". The Guardian. August 26, 2021. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  4. ^ "Sundance Institute Announces 12 Projects for 2015 January Screenwriters Lab". Sundance Institute. September 16, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Tessa Thompson and 'Little Woods' director Nia DaCosta are breaking down Hollywood barriers". Los Angeles Times. April 19, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  6. ^ DaCosta, Nia (December 17, 2014). "Little Woods by Nia DaCosta". Kickstarter.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Nia DaCosta becomes first Black woman director to debut film at top of box office with "Candyman"". CBS News. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  8. ^ Schillaci, Sophie (April 16, 2013). "Tribeca Announces Nora Ephron Award". The Hollywood Reporter.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Hipes, Patrick (June 14, 2018). "Neon Acquires Nia DaCosta's 'Little Woods' After Tribeca Bow". Deadline.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Strouse, Kristy (May 4, 2018). "Tribeca Review & Interviews: LITTLE WOODS: A Confident Debut". Film Inquiry.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ Coffin, Lesley (April 29, 2018). "Nora Ephron winner Nia DaCosta talks 'Little Woods'". FF2 Media. Retrieved April 13, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Kroll, Justin (November 27, 2018). "Jordan Peele-Produced 'Candyman' Reboot Taps Director Nia DaCosta". Variety.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Crucchiola, Jordan (February 26, 2019). "Jordan Peele's Candyman Has Found Its Hook-Handed Villain". Vulture.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Trumbore, Dave (March 25, 2019). "'Candyman' Director Confirms Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Is Not Replacing Tony Todd". Collider. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  15. ^ Kit, Borys (March 1, 2018). "'Beale Street' Actress Teyonah Parris in Talks to Join Yahya Abdul-Mateen in 'Candyman' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ Clement, Olivia (August 14, 2019). "Angels in America's Nathan Stewart-Jarrett is also part of the film's cast, now in production in Chicago". Playlist.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ Abdul-Mateen, Yahya II (September 25, 2019). "CANDYMAN". Facebook.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Hughes, William (September 12, 2020). "Nia DaCosta's Candyman delayed until August 27, 2021". A.V. Club. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  19. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (September 11, 2020). "Nia DaCosta's 'Candyman' Release Delayed to 2021". Variety. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  20. ^ Newby, Richard (August 6, 2020). "The New Possibilities for 'Captain Marvel 2'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  21. ^ Allen, Sian (September 14, 2021). "The Marvels Director First Pitched A Fantastic 4 & X-Men Crossover". Screen Rant. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  22. ^ Couch, Adam (December 11, 2020). "'Free Guy', 'Thor 4' and 'Lightyear' Get Release Dates Amid New Disney Plan". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 30, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  23. ^ "Fargo Film Festival kicks off with full slate of screenings". InForum. March 19, 2019. Retrieved January 26, 2023.
  24. ^ "The 2021 Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) Midseason Awards Nominations". Next Best Picture. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  25. ^ Oganesyan, Natalie (February 27, 2021). "Variety's 10 Directors to Watch and Creative Impact Awards Delves into Art of Moviemaking". Variety. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  26. ^ "The 2021 Sunset Circle Awards (SCA) Winners". Next Best Picture. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
  27. ^ Jackson, Angelique (January 18, 2022). "NAACP Image Awards Nominations: Jennifer Hudson, Lil Nas X, H.E.R., 'The Harder They Fall,' 'Insecure' Lead". Variety. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  28. ^ Fraley, Jason (December 16, 2021). "'The Harder They Fall' leads Black Reel Awards with record 20 nominations". WTOP News. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  29. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 5, 2020). "'Captain Marvel 2': 'Candyman's Nia DaCosta To Direct Sequel". Deadline Hollywood.
  30. ^ Grobar, Matt (April 18, 2022). "Nia DaCosta To Direct Adaptation Of Ta-Nehisi Coates Novel 'The Water Dancer' For MGM, Plan B, Harpo Films & Maceo-Lyn". Deadline Hollywood.
  31. ^ Elderkin, Beth (May 1, 2020). "Candyman Director Nia DaCosta Talks Scares, Sequels, and Fan Service". Gizmodo.
  32. ^ "The Black Girl Dies Last". August 5, 2009 – via YouTube.
  33. ^ Hatchett, Keisha (July 14, 2022). "Ms. Marvel Directors Discuss That Post-Credits Cameo, X-Men Reference". TVLine. Archived from the original on July 15, 2022. Retrieved July 15, 2022.

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