DIRECTOR AVA DuVernay is not allowing erasure of black women in Hollywood to slide this week. She put Hollywood on blast for assuming she directed two recent black led films, despite not having anything to do with either project.
She took to Twitter to air out her frustration and wrote: “I’ve now been congratulated by non-black folks in Hollywood 11 different times about my direction of Harriet and Queen & Slim.”
She continued: “When I share that I didn’t direct those films, that they are made by black women directors who are not me? Nervous chuckles. Apologies. This place…”
Harriet is a biographical drama starring Tony award winner Cynthia Erivo. It depicts the heroic slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman on her quest to lead slaves to liberation.
The film is helmed by Kasi Lemmons, who other films include Eve’s Bayou, Talk to Me and Black Nativity.
Queen & Slim is directed by first-time film director Melina Matsoukas with a cast led by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith. The film is a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, portraying two African Americans who go on the run from the law after killing a police officer in self-defence.
DuVernay is not one to shy away from speaking her mind. Most notably, in 2017 she spoke to People and called out Hollywood’s overt discriminatory practices when it comes to selecting directors.
She stated: “I would say that it’s quite intentional. You’re basically saying, ‘this is what we want, and this is what we’re going to have’. There’s no way you can tell me that there hasn’t been effort put into exclusion.”
Due to the lack of opportunities in the film industry for people of colour, the Selma director created a space of her own to open the doors for them.
In 2010 she founded the organisation Array Now with a mission to discover and fund promising films by minority directors.
She told People: “I wanted to make films about the interiority of women of colour, people of colour, and I knew there wasn’t a large market out in the studio system for those kinds of films, so I decided to just distribute on my own. It started as a function of survival.”
Array Now has released 18 works by independent filmmakers to date, and her acclaimed show Queen Sugar, recently renewed for its fifth season, is continuing its reign on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.