Kimberly Steward, the producer of the Oscar nominated film Manchester By The Sea, has become the second black woman producer to have her film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (second to Oprah Winfrey).
Manchester by the Sea has been nominated for six Academy Awards, and Steward shared with the Huffington Post, “this is exciting and surreal. I’m just beyond belief.”
Manchester By The Sea was written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan and stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, and Lucas Hedges. The film revolves around a man who looks after his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies, and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2016 and was soon picked up by Amazon Studios for distribution. It began a limited release on November 18, 2016, before going wide on December 16, 2016.
Steward stated that she was instantly attracted to the film’s storyline after reading the script, and independently financed the film’s $8.5 million budget. The film has gone on to receive widespread acclaim from critics and has grossed $40 million worldwide.
“I really was able to identify with the film as an African-American woman because I saw my own extended family dynamics and have family members that have dealt with very tragic situations. It’s really important to represent who we are in front of the camera as well as behind the camera,” she said. “We’re amongst a really incredible group of filmmakers and films this year,” Steward said.
Steward is in good company among the nominees as Joi McMillon, editor of the Oscar-nominated film Moonlight, made history by becoming the first black woman to ever receive an Oscar nomination in the editing category earlier this week. In addition to McMillon, Ruth Negga (Loving) received a nomination for Best Actress, and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Viola Davis (Fences), and Naomie Harris (Moonlight) received nominations in the Best Supporting Actress category. Ava DuVernay’s documentary feature 13th received a nomination in the Documentary Features category.
Although Steward has only been working in Hollywood for a few years, she has been able to forge strategic relationships with some of the most influential producers, distributors and financiers in the industry. Through her company K Period Media, she aims to discover diverse new voices and launch the careers of next-generation talent, on both sides of the camera. We look forward to more work from Steward as she continues paving the way for future generations of black women behind the camera in film and television.