Oscar-winning alumnus surprises WSU students with visit

Hannah Beachler at Wright State University. Photograph by Shelby Prenger.
Hannah Beachler at Wright State University. Photograph by Shelby Prenger.

Wright State Motion Pictures students were surprised with a visit from an Oscar-winning alumnus Friday, March 15.

Hannah Beachler, a graduate of Wright State’s Motion Pictures program, made history as the first black person in Oscar history to win for Best Production Design on Marvel’s box office hit, “Black Panther.”

Beacher has also been recognized with the Art Directors Guild Award for her production on best-selling music artist Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album, “Lemonade.”

Beachler captivated students with stories of behind-the-scenes moments at the Oscars and the starts she spent the night with.

“I went back to the hotel and changed and went to Beyoncé’s Party,” said Beachler, causing the room to erupt with gasps.

“I have a beef with Melissa McCarthy now too,” she said jokingly. “She cut in front of me getting food.”

Beachler said that while rubbing shoulders with stars is amazing, it’s important to stay grounded.

“No one prepares you for that sort of attention,” Beachler said. “You constantly have to keep your feet on the ground. I know who I am and I’m very self-aware.”

Beachler also shared with students the less-than-glamorous moments on set.

“I just spent months on a farm in a creek with mud up to my knees on a film that I was on, that’s what I do,” Beachler said. “When I first worked with Beyoncé on Lemonade it wasn’t glamorous at all, it was very hard. I [realized] she’s just like everyone else.”

Beachler said that the results of her success have not all been Vanity Fair parties and hanging out with Beyoncé, as she struggled to balance her career and motherhood.

“I had to make the very hard decision of choosing for my son to live with his dad while I pursued my career, so for seven years that’s how we had to do it. It was more important for him to have that stability than for him to be with me,” Beachler said. “I had so much guilt. I had to go to therapy for a year, because I stopped being creative. It’s not that I had a bad relationship with my son, I just have a different relationship. That’s just as important. When I was with my son, I was with my son. I wasn’t working.”

Beachler continued to inspire students by encouraging them to become agents of change in their communities. “Don’t ever think one person can’t change something,” she said.

After taking questions from students, Beachler passed around her Oscar for students to hold and take selfies with. She also spoke with students individually and posed for photos.

Beachler said she will continue to work in Hollywood and inspire young filmmakers at Wright State and across the country.