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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.
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.