Cathy Yan is a huge fan of Succession, so making her TV directorial debut on the hit HBO series seemed like reward enough. On Tuesday, Yan received her first Emmy Award nomination, for the Season 3 episode “The Disruption.”

“It was really helpful that I was such a fan of the show. I felt like I really cared about these characters and I knew you they were,” Yan told Deadline following her nomination. “I was just eager to see what was happening. Reading the script for the first time and also seeing the table read, which was over Zoom because of Covid, was such a thrill. Just being part of the show was a thrill. I’ve been such a longtime fan and was obsessed with the world. Getting to do it felt like such an honor, and it was a bonus to shoot in New York City, my home.”

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One of the most notable elements of the episode was the inclusion of Nirvana’s song “Rape Me,” following the approval of songwriter Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love — something Yan says doesn’t happen often.

“I was nervous that it wouldn’t be approved because the context of the song could be taken either way,” Yan recalled. “Also, we heard she’s pretty selective about who gets to use Nirvana songs. We had so many conversations about what song to use, but this one was perfect. Thankfully she approved it because we had no other option. I think she’s also a fan of the show and was very supportive.”

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The title for the episode was apropos of Yan, a disruptor whose other work also includes directing 2018’s Dead Pigs and the 2020 Warner Bros. hit Birds of Prey. Lensing the Harley Quinn-centered feature made her the first Asian woman to direct a superhero film.

“I think it’s helpful to have role models. When I was growing up, there were few Asian Americans directing at all and certainly less that were women like me,” she shared. “If [seeing me as a director] is helpful to anyone in any way, or if it shows someone a different perspective on some of these stories, it’s very humbling to be a part of that.”

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