Candyman director Nia DaCosta has been named the 2021 Shadow and Act Game-Changer Award recipient via the 2021 S&A RISING Awards Digital for her directorial work in the industry.

DaCosta chatted with Jessica Otse Idaewor upon being named the 2021 Game-Changer about her career and where she finds inspiration. One of her inspirations, she said, is telling the stories of Black women.

“I want to tell as many interesting stories as I can about women, Black women in particular, not with any agenda of what the Black women are like or what they do, but just center Black women in my stories,” she said, adding that stories could be as fanciful as a Shakespearean adaptation or something grounded like a kitchen sink drama. “I think it’s just important for me to do that as much as I can,” she said.

She also talked about the mindset it takes for her to create her films, referencing the firm proverbial kick her mentor, director Kasi Lemmons, gave her at the start of her career.

“Kasi Lemmons was one of my mentors out of the Sundance Labs, and I remember having dinner with her before I made my first movie, and I was like, ‘I hope I can do x,y,z. I hope I can make my movie,” and she’s like, “No, no, no. There’s no ‘hope’–you have to ‘do’, because there’s not a lot of us,” she said. “…I think that mindset was really important to me to get my first movies made.”

DaCosta’s Candyman is now available on demand. DaCosta will direct Marvel Studios film The Marvels, set to come to theaters Nov. 11 2022. The film will reteam her with Teyonah Parris, who starred in Candyman and has been cast as Monica Rambeau in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.