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Ava DuVernay Addresses Rihanna and Lupita Nyong'o Fan-Film: 'We'll See What Comes'

The highly-acclaimed filmmaker talked about the film and her creative process at a discussion with Questlove in Brooklyn. 


Ava DuVernay has been in talks about the fan-film conceptualized on Twitter starring Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o, written by Issa Rae.

The idea came from a series of tweets stemming from a 2014 photo of the ladies sitting side-by-side at a Miu Miu show. A Twitter user captioned the photo, “Rihanna looks like she scams rich white men and Lupita is the computer smart best friend that helps plan the scams,” and the internet went wild with calls for the film to be created.

“I was texting with these sisters today, and there were some interesting conversations. So we’ll see what comes,” DuVernay said Monday night during Conversations on Creativity with Questlove hosted at Pratt Institute.

“My twitter feed is in shambles,” DuVernay said. “I can’t even retweet anymore. It’s so many people over the last four days inundating me with it. It just feels nice like, ‘they like me, they picked me.'”

“But also, I think the main thing is the idea that the people want a certain kind of film. People want Black women in centered, powerful images that are complex and layered. And that have nuance beyond what we’re relegated to. And they want it from other Black women. They chose Black writers, with Issa. Issa text me like, ‘Yooo!’ She’s on the set of Insecure trying to be insecure. And all this great stuff is happening.” 

“So it just feels like, wow, this is a moment of Black women centered-ness. It’s an indicator of this voice is valid and it should be amplified. And so, I accept it as that.” 

The event was the second in the series from The Roots’ drummer, Questlove, who has introspective discussions with creative visionaries on the artsy Brooklyn campus.

Lights dim and moderated by New York Times best-selling author, Ben Greenman, the audience of about 200 intently listened as DuVernay and Questlove talked about honing their craft, stresses of having major investors, team work and creative spaces.

“I want to constantly be practicing,” DuVernay said. “Sometimes I’m in different phases of production. I might be post on one thing, prepping another and actively shooting something else. I’ll take the commercial. ‘Hey Smithsonian, want me to make a 20 minute film? Yes, let’s do it.’ How am I going to fit that in while I’m doing Queen SugarWrinkle in Time and Thirteenth? The weekends! That’s literally how that got done.”

To which Questlove asked if she made all six of the shorts he saw at the National Museum of African American History.

“Oh, yea. Those are all mine,” Ava said as he sat stunned, and the crowd laughed and clapped. 

Ava made sure to note that 95 percent of television and film is created by men. Part of her work ethic comes from knowing opportunities have historically come in waves for women, so she accepts projects that appeal to her, to break the status quo.

“The idea of practice, as filmmakers [means] we have to get our hands on a camera. We have to be out there on the floor directing, moving the camera, editing and writing. So that’s why I’m always grabbing at something to stay in tune.”

To learn more and watch the next live streaming of Conversations on Creativity with Questlovego here. And to find out more about DuVernay’s work with independent filmmakers, go here


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