BETHANY, W.Va. – Frances McDormand ’79 won her third Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role during the 93rd Academy Awards Ceremony on Sunday night.

Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

The honor lauded her performance in “Nomadland,” a 2020 Searchlight Pictures film based on the Jessica Bruder nonfiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century.” In the film, McDormand portrays the fictional Fern, a woman in her 60s who travels the American West living in a van.

She and the film also received British Academy Film Awards earlier this month.

McDormand graduated from Bethany College with a Bachelor of Art in Theater and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts from Yale School of Drama.

“Nomadland” also won Oscar statues for Best Picture and Best Director for Chloe Zhao, who became the second woman and first woman of color to win the award.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science previously honored McDormand with Oscars for her performances in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017) and “Fargo” (1996). She was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in Supporting Role for “North Country” (2005), “Almost Famous” (2000), and “Mississippi Burning” (1988).

She also has won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie for her role as the title character in “Olive Kitteridge” (2015) and a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play for “Good People” in 2011.

“Nomadland” is available for streaming on Hulu.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.