Ava DuVernay Gets Blunt About Hiring All-Women Directors: 'We Can And We Want To'

She’s on a mission to change Hollywood.

It’s no secret, award-winning filmmaker, Ava DuVernay is a champion for women in Hollywood. Although she started her career as a publicist, DuVernay stepped behind the camera to tell narratives we rarely see on screen.

After becoming the first Black woman to take home the Best Director prize at the Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay went on to garner critical acclaim for Selma, her biopic on Martin Luther King, Jr. Her next feature, Disney's A Wrinkle in Time, also makes her the first woman of color to direct a film with a $100 million budget. Last year, DuVernay once again changed the business with the debut of her family drama, Queen Sugar.

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The series, which took home an NAACP Image Award and is currently in Emmy contention for best drama, has a slate of all-female directors and an extremely inclusive crew. While DuVernay was at the forefront of the trend of giving women directors a chance, some still question her decision.

“If Game of Thrones Can have three seasons of all male directors, why can’t we have three seasons of all women directors?” she said during a press event earlier this month for Queen Sugar’s second season.

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“If they can do it, why can’t we do it? We only do it because we can and we want to. You only say, ‘We will not have women’s voice here, we will only center the man’s perspective’ in terms of the creators of the show because we can and we want to,” she explained. “So on the other side of things, we’re going to center women because we can and we want to.”

DuVernay added, “We’re at a network owned by a woman, so it makes it easy.”

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Though she’s attempting to bring parity to the business through her efforts to hire women directors, that isn’t the only reason DuVernay is so passionate about giving them a chance. She’s on a mission to change Hollywood.

“I started out looking for women who had at least directed one film. A great majority of our women from the first season had at least one film under their belt. Can you believe that these women had directed a film that played at film festivals around the world and couldn’t get hired in Hollywood for one episode of television?” she told the crowd of journalists.

DuVernay’s choice to employ women directors for her show —which has since been adopted by the likes of Ryan Murphy— is already having an impact. According to the director, all of the women tapped to direct episodes in the first season of Queen Sugar are now “heavily booked.”

“I got a call from a really well-known television show just last week asking, ‘We had someone drop out as a director. Can you refer us to one of your season one directors?’ I got on the phone and none of the season one directors are available,” she said.

Now, that's real power.

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

[SOUND] [MUSIC] I never imagined that I can make films. I just want to be as close to film as possible because I love films. And so getting into publicity and doing film publicity was the way that I thought And I just thought this is it. I can be on film sets. I just thought it was gonna be everything. And then when I was on those film sets I started to observe the directors and think wait I want to be doing that. Is that possible? [MUSIC] When I look back, I really think that the inspiration or I guess the bravery of that takes the courage, that it takes the move from one career to another later in life. It came from my mother because I saw her change careers Later in life. And so this is what she longed to do, and so she had the bravery and the courage to do it. Something in there, the mechanics of being able to watch her do it, know that it could be done, actually was fuel for me in doing it myself. [MUSIC] I know so many amazing artists that just is wrong that only a few of us might be [UNKNOWN] .Whenever an opportunity I trying to [UNKNOWN] those other people because [UNKNOWN] So, you know really is not a party. You know, I just really wanna celebrate what everybody does. To be around people, beautiful energy of people creating. And inviting people into a project or maybe giving people an opportunity that they hadn't had, I mean that feeds me, like I'm fat on, you know, love, and good vibes, and good experiences. It's like, why would you not want to do that? [MUSIC] Our work is to make sure that it's not a trend, and that it's change. And it's hard to know if a trend is changed until it's not longer a trend, until it's consistent. It's been around for a minute. We're not there yet. So it remains to be seen, but in the meantime we have to do the work and the work is even more important in this era. It's going to be important for artists of all kind, who are forward-thinking, particularly women and particularly people of color and particularly black women to make our voices heard, because it will be our weapon, our art will be our weapon. And we need to handle that. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO]
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