BY ADEDIWURA OKELEYE
It’s a welcome overdose of black
girl woman power in the August 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter Magazine with media mogul, Oprah Winfrey and award winning writer and director, Ava DuVernay as the focus of the issue.
Ava made the rounds recently for being the first black woman to helm a $100 million movie (Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time). Ava and Oprah worked together on the Martin Luther King Jr-inspired movie, Selma and are billed to work together again in A Wrinkle In Time.
Read excerpts from the feature below.
But whenever you are the first, as you know, there are many, many more eyes on you and your outcome. That doesn’t come with pressure?
DUVERNAY “Pressure” is the wrong word. I’m in a space where I’m able to do the things that I want to do and the start of that was doing it on my own and working independently without permission. Even though I have more folks, more money and more infrastructure around me now, I made a decision [long ago] to work from a place of protecting my own voice by collaborating with people who nurture and value that — and not trying to spend my time knocking on doors that were closed to me, begging people for things that put me at a disadvantage because they had it and I didn’t.
Ava, you’ve expressed strong distaste for the term “diversity,” but Oprah has made use of it. How do you both characterize the concept now in terms of the overall conversation in the industry?
DUVERNAY We aren’t sitting around talking about diversity, just like we aren’t sitting around talking about being black or being women. We’re just being that.
WINFREY I will say that I stand corrected. I used to use the word “diversity” all the time. “We want more diverse stories, more diverse characters …” Now I really eliminated it from my vocabulary because I’ve learned from her that the word that most articulates what we’re looking for is what we want to be: included. It’s to have a seat at the table where the decisions are being made.
As black artists, what responsibility do you feel to include the challenges facing the black community in your storytelling?
DUVERNAY You see integration of Black Lives Matter from the beginning of [Queen Sugar] because it is literally black lives having meaning and mattering in the everyday. With the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of the focus is on the protest and dissent. I’m hoping to dismantle the public notion — for folks outside of the community — of what Black Lives Matter means. It’s really about saying that black lives matter, that humanity is the same when you go inside people’s homes.