Selma director, Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey are on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter‘s new issue, and to say so, their quite the dynamic duo!
One has been powerful source for decades, while the other is new on the scene, coming up as one of the chosen ones who will follow in her footsteps.
The two, who’ve teamed up to produce OWN’s new series Queen Sugar, sat down to talk about their roles and responsibilities as Black artists in the time of Black Live sMatter movement, and much more.
Check out some of the interview questions below, and to read the full interview, head over to HollywoodReporter.com
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.”
DUVERNAY: “That was your take on it.”
WINFREY “When Sidney Poitier came to my school [in South Africa], he gave a gift of 550 movies to the girls. He thought if you watch these 550 movies, they’ll be your education for life. He wrote to the girls that his dream for them was to be able to sit at the table of the future where the world’s decisions would be made. I realize now that what he was saying is to be included, to be valued as a person who has something to contribute.”
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.”
We recently saw strides made by the Academy to address the inequities in the Oscar race. Is it enough, and how will the discussion change this year?
DUVERNAY: “My experience with that world, through Selma, was what it was. [Selmascored a best picture nom, but DuVernay and her star, David Oyelowo, were snubbed.] It helped me understand what I value, and my times of greatest joy had nothing to do with any of that business; it had to do with the times that I shared the film with real people and with the people who walked up to me in airports and on the street to tell me what it meant to them and their families. As I went through the awards circuit, I found it was quite a contrast between that space where people congregate around films for reasons of story and not of business and accolades. So I’ll leave the analysis of [the Academy’s moves] to someone else and wish everyone well.”