Nia DaCosta couldn’t pay off her student loan debt after landing a Marvel movie

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Nia DaCosta has been winning for the last few months. Particularly this weekend when she became the first African American woman director to open at number one at the domestic box office with the Candyman reboot. In fact, when people kept calling the Candyman reboot Jordan Peele’s movie, folks took to Twitter to correct the matter by making it clear that it was Nia DaCosta’s movie. Nia is now directing the Captain Marvel sequel The Marvels. Nia stated in an interview before the announcement that if she got a Marvel gig she would pay off her $100,000 student loans. However despite getting her Marvel gig, Nia revealed during a podcast interview that she hasn’t been able to pay off her loans yet. Below are a few more highlights via Gizmodo:

While those not familiar with DaCosta’s earlier work like Little Woods might not have recognized her name at the time, what she said about her $100,000 student loan debt resonated with many who could relate to living with the constant stress of having to pay back that much money (plus interest). In order to rid herself of that kind of stress, DaCosta reasoned in 2019, she’d need to land a massive, Avengers-level directing gig, which would allow her to “pay it all in one fell swoop.”

Then, in 2020, news broke that DaCosta was set to direct Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels.

Like any high-profile celebrity with good sense who suddenly found themselves thrust into the public spotlight in a major way, DaCosta quietly left social media not long after The Marvels news began making the rounds, and much of the buzz about her since her been focused on Candyman’s box office success. But during a recent appearance on the Blank Check podcast DaCosta spoke a bit about how booking The Marvels changed her life, and she explained how, hyped as she is to be working on the movie, the project did not magically erase the kind of financial burden she was talking about in the Times.

“I was like, I will only pay them off if I get a Marvel movie, and now that I have one, I’m like ‘Jesus, I’m still not going to [be able to] pay them all off,’” DaCosta said. “Everyone thinks I literally paid them off like when I got the job, which is not how you get paid through the [Directors Guild of America].”

DaCosta’s comments come at a time when more members of the film industry—actors in particular—are speaking up about how much they’re being paid or underpaid as part of a larger conversation about pay equity within the industry. Every director and actor’s situation with studios is unique, but in the past Marvel has been widely reported to adhere to a tiered structure where the size of employees’ checks are determined by a variety of factors, like their star power and centrality to their respective franchises. Actors’ and directors’ pay on the back end has been tied to the financial success of their projects, meaning that the more money a movie like The Marvels makes at the box office, the more DaCosta and stars Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani will end up being paid after the film’s release.

[From Gizmodo]

I am truly excited for Nia DaCosta. I have been following Nia’s career for quite some time. I am looking forward to seeing Candyman (I loved the original) and I am salivating waiting for The Marvels because I know it is going to be good. I find it interesting that DaCosta went off social media after she became a household names. I think it is absolutely appalling that DaCosta has directed these major hits and is in development of a movie in a mega franchise and she still wasn’t able to pay off her $100,000 debt. Maybe DaCosta is saying that her salary is negotiated through the Directors Guild of America and perhaps they pay out in installments. Hopefully she is getting a significant cut of the backend. Whatever the case, I am hoping that Nia is able to negotiate better deals now that she has a number one box office hit.

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15 Responses to “Nia DaCosta couldn’t pay off her student loan debt after landing a Marvel movie”

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  1. SarahCS says:

    As a non-American it never ceases to amaze me how much it costs just to exist and leave your house occasionally over there. It’s insane.

    • sally says:

      Right? I had a long talk about this when I last visited California. Like, I’m poor/lower middle class for Western European standards and so are my parents, but I still could afford higher education easily (still no money, choose your majors wisely, children!) and getting sick will not throw me into ridiculous debts. We sat in that restaurant and I looked at the bill like HOW do you afford to eat out more than once a month?! Everyone from that course I did there did all the time, but unless I went to, I dunno, In-N-Out Burger, on my salary I’d run out of money by day 6.

  2. Yup, Me says:

    Maaaaaan, these fkn student loans. I swear. Student loans really are the next big financial justice issue. There are so many Black women who are burdened with them and hamstrung in their forward momentum.

    Free higher education, low cost home and business loans and trauma informed healing (from a variety of modalities) are all part of my vision for a comprehensive reparations package for Black American descendents of those formerly enslaved in this nation.

    • Anna says:

      So true. I have six-figure debt as well and unfortunately work for the same institution that got me into debt in the first place but they don’t pay me enough to be able to pay off the loans even though I have awards and am decorated in service. The level of mindf*** is enormous. So I just keep plugging away and grinding even though I am physically exhausted and have health issues.

      It’s a combination of the huge debt that Black women (the most educated in the U.S. btw) must take in order to get higher education in order to even begin to get considered for big higher paying jobs because of systemic racism. And even then we still have to work until the middle of August of the next year in order to make what a white man makes in a year. Look up #BlackWomensEqualPayDay The pay scale is so racist and misogynist.

      Plus, if you went to school in the early 90s in the U.S., you are likely an indentured servant to the U.S. government through students loans. It affected a whole generation because they were giving loans out like hotcakes but no financial literacy or support for how to manage them or pay them off. It’s a predatory system that depends on you *not* being able to pay it off so the companies can make profit off of the high rates of interest. So the loan reps are kept in the dark and are simply there to process money or harass if you don’t pay, and there is no advice from schools or debt management companies on how to best pay off the debt, even with those so-called debt calculators.

      It’s honestly a nightmare. I pray every day and work myself to the bone trying to pay mine off so that I can finally be free to live the life I want. I mean, I do live the life I want as much as possible but the loans are an albatross. I’m nearing 50 and thinking about everything I want to do in life and this huge debt is just always there, reminding me of the chain. But I will get free, I will. And soon. I know it can be done. And there are also networks of #BuyBackBlackDebt and Black women who are working together with white women and others who understand generational legacies and systemic racism and are working collectively to pay down debt. It can be done.

      And agreed with @IMARA219 and @Cava24 that this is an attack on Black people, Black women in particular. Black women got Biden and Harris in office, Black women and Indigenous folks, and this is what he does. What an asshole, honestly. I’m sick of his b.s. He gave us hope running for office and then as usual like every politician, turns around and spites the very people who helped him get there. This world does not deserve Black women. Period, end of story.

    • herhighness says:

      x1000 excellent idea!

    • Gah says:

      @Yup Me

      Contact me please I would love to connect.

      I am magnetismfactor on the tweets

  3. IMARA219 says:

    Black women occupies the highest demographic with high student loans. Biden not clearing student debt to me was a Black issue. It’s an issue he easily dropped once elected and it is a major disappointment that Black issues keep getting pushed to the side. As for our girl DaCosta! Yay to chicka. I can not wait to watch Candyman. I haven’t braved going to the movies yet but I was totally willing to do so with Candyman. I’m not looking forward to but a handful of new superhero movies and hers is on that list.

    • Cava24 says:

      That tracks to all the systemic obstacles to black inter-generational wealth building. It is a compounding problem :(

      • Yup, Me says:

        So true. Also check out The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans–and How We Can Fix It by Dorothy A Brown.

  4. BnlurNforever says:

    I feel so badly for people with massive student debts, it’s just yet another unfair thing in this life.

  5. Concern Fae says:

    One of the issues is that even if you get the money in your pocket to pay off a big loan like this, it probably is not financially prudent to do so. If they are low interest federal loans, you are better off paying them as they come due, even if the mental relief would be enormous. That is probably what her financial people are telling her.

    • Anna says:

      The mental part of it cannot be overstated, especially for Black women and other BIPOC caught in this racist, sexist system. I also don’t see how it’s advantageous to keep paying for 20-40 years on something if you have the means to pay it off. Why stay in debt if you can be free. I understand the Amerikkkan system depends on debt for credit scores and such but those systems are also f-ed up and not a real reflection of anything but continued systemic disadvantage. And even with a high credit score–which can fluctuate on whims–it still guarantees nothing for BIPOC in a system that is constantly trying to re-enslave us and invalidate our efforts. I say if you have the means to pay it, pay it off. Get free.

      • Singtress says:

        Please don’t put three K’s in American.
        Not all of us are racist pricks.
        Some of us are hugely embarrassed by some “leaders” and the people that follow them.
        And some of us truly try to continue to educate ourselves and work for advancement of minorities or others who are treated mind-bogglingly unfairly.

  6. Lucy says:

    The cost of going to college in the USA is something I’ll never understand.

  7. Lemons says:

    The whole point of student loans is so that once you’ve “made it” like she has, you are able to pay them back and live your life comfortably. The very fact that she cannot do so shows how messed up this system is. I can’t stand America. (Saying this as an American, but I just can’t….the country is messed up.)