When Matrix co-director Larry Wachowski became Lana Wachowski, she became the first major Hollywood director to publicly identify as transgender. After undergoing a thorough gender reassignment including, apparently, surgery, Lana recently made a rare appearance in a promotional spot for her hotly anticipated upcoming movie, Cloud Atlas. “Hi, I’m Lana,” she says at the beginning of the charming video, sporting pink dreadlocks and a cute semi-sheer black top with a bra visible underneath. Wachowski’s public embrace of her feminine identity makes her an important figure in the transgender community. But her transition makes her notable for a reason that has been much less widely reported on: She is now the top-grossing female director of all time.
Lana and her brother, Andy, co-directed the hugely profitable Matrix trilogy, starting with The Matrix in 1999. Cloud Atlas, based on the mind-bending novel by David Mitchell, is their first directorial project since the disappointing 2008 family action movie Speed Racer. Cloud Atlas, due in theaters in October, stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.
According to numbers compiled by Box Office Mojo, the Wachowski siblings (still listed there as Andy and Larry) are #60 on the list of top-grossing directors. Their movies have made a combined $640.1 million, with an average of $128 million per film. There’s not a single woman above them on the list, which is topped by Steven Spielberg.
The top woman on the list is Betty Thomas at #77, whose biggest movie was Alvin and the Chipmunks 2. Just below her is the better-known Nancy Meyers, known for lady-friendly comedies like like What Women Want and Something’s Gotta Give.
Rumors about Larry Wachowski’s gender identity began circling a decade ago during a nasty divorce from his wife, Thea Bloom. In 2003, Wachowski’s date to the Cannes Film Festival told British tabloids he was a “cross-dresser.” Since then, she has been “quietly transitioning genders,” according to the LA Times.
There are a lot of conversations to be had about why the top 76 money-making directors of all time are men — really, it’s shocking. But for now, let’s just celebrate the fact that Lana Wachowki’s Lana-ness moves women up to #60. And, hey, if Cloud Atlas is a mega-hit, we may have even more to celebrate.