5 things to know about Nia DaCosta

Written by on September 19, 2023

Loading the player…

Nia DaCosta is gearing up for her biggest year yet. The filmmaker behind the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film “The Marvels,” has quickly become one of the most sought-after filmmakers in Hollywood since her feature debut in 2018. Ahead of the film’s release this November, we’re breaking down some of the biggest moments of her career thus far, looking back on her projects, success at various film festivals and more.

Los Angeles Pink Carpet Premiere Of "Little Woods" Hosted By Refinery29, NEON And Rooftop Cinema Club At NeueHouse Hollywood
“Little Woods” writer and director Nia DaCosta attends the Los Angeles Pink Carpet Premiere of “Little Woods” hosted by Refinery29, NEON and Rooftop Cinema Club at NeueHouse Hollywood on April 1, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images)

Harlem beginnings

DaCosta is a born-and-raised New Yorker. Growing up in Harlem, she was exposed to “film, music, theater, and performance art” at an early age by her mother, per a recent profile in Vanity Fair. In an interview with IndieWire in 2019, DaCosta recalled her high school A.P. English class shifting her trajectory. After reading the Joseph Conrad novel “Heart of Darkness” and subsequently watching the beloved adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola, “Apocalypse Now,” DaCosta gained a particular interest in filmmaking.

“I went through the 1970s in film, and I was so inspired by what I saw and by filmmakers like Scorsese, Lumet, Spielberg and Coppola,” she told the outlet. “They made me think I could do anything I wanted with film … that’s kind of where it started for me.” DaCosta eventually attended and graduated from New York University and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

Indie darling

After encouragement from her mother, DaCosta, after working as a production assistant, wrote the screenplay for “Little Woods,” a film inspired by conversations surrounding women’s healthcare, which was accepted into Sundance Labs. The project, starring Tessa Thompson and Lily James premiered to rave reviews at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018.

“I was really struck by what felt like a total lack of any real connection being made to people’s actual lives,” she told IndieWire in 2019. “And so I wanted to tell a story about that, but from the perspective of women who lived in rural America, particularly those who are living in poverty.”

The Candyman can

[embedded content]

In a complete genre shift, DaCosta’s next project, courtesy of executive producer Jordan Peele, was 2021’s “Candyman.” Written by DaCosta, Peele, and Win Rosenfeld, the film is a remake of the 1992 horror film of the same name, starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Colman Domingo.

The film was a success at the box office, outperforming expectations despite the rise of the Delta COVID-19 variant around the time of the movie’s release. DaCosta opened up about her film’s cast to theGrio in an interview with writer Chris Witherspoon back in 2021, saying, “The cast is so amazing… It’s incredibly diverse. There are so many Black women in the movie, which I love. But also Teyonah Parris, who’s in ‘Candyman,’ was already in Marvel land, just hanging out, waiting for me to get there.”

Film history

Enter: “The Marvels.” A year before the release of “Candyman,” DaCosta scored a major gig, making history in the process. She was tapped to direct “The Marvels,” an official sequel to the MCU’s 2019 film “Captain Marvel,” tying together Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel character with Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel and Parris’ Monica Rambeau, who made her first appearance in the hit 2020 series “WandaVision.”

[embedded content]

While directing a Marvel feature is a feat in itself, theGrio previously reported DaCosta is officially the first Black woman to helm a Marvel film. DaCosta also breaks the record for highest budgeted film with a Black woman director, a title previously held by Ava DuVernay, and her “A Wrinkle in Time” film.

Just getting started

Even with a major Marvel film set to drop, DaCosta has other projects in the wings, once again expanding her filmography genre-wise. First, is an upcoming adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler,” with Tessa Thompson taking on the titular role. The film was into rehearsals before forcibly pausing due to the WGA strike. DaCosta is also set to adapt “The Water Dancer,” Ta-Nehisi Coates’ novel.

In the Vanity Fair profile, she spoke about a return to writing original films again in the future, telling the outlet that while “it was really great to play in this world,” it made her “just want to build” out her own world “more.”

“The Marvels” opens on Nov. 10 in theaters.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!

Current track



Current show

So Blessed Sundays

2:00 pm 4:00 pm

Current show

So Blessed Sundays

2:00 pm 4:00 pm