10 Drops of Tea Ava DuVernay Spilled on the "Don't @ Me" Podcast
Don't @ Us, but if you don't know the one and only Ava, you better ask somebody.
The director, producer, screenwriter, film marketer, and distributor made her directorial debut at age 38 with 2010's I Will Follow. Since then, she's made four films, currently on her second television series, and became the first African-American woman to direct a film that earned at least $100 million domestically.
Ava talked to Justin on Don't @ Me and spilled copious amounts of tea. Here's a taste.
1. Networking is a Triggering Word for Her, Too!
"I don't think of it as network I think of it as family. Kind of like the mainstream white patriarchy makes us think of it as network. As something that's kind of corporate or business driven. But, you know, really that's just family."
2. She Knows Hollywood's 'Only One' History ...
"When we look back at the history and I talk to people about, you know even what it was like in the early 2000s ... in the '90s, in the '80s, you know there were different pops of groups that stayed together – LA Rebellion, fits and starts but [not] in terms of a whole bunch of people who knew and the posture being supporting each other."
3. ... And is Working To Actively Change That ...
"We're family. This is family. In ever speech that I make, in every interview that I do I just try to be intentional about saying other people's names. And I've done that since the very, very first film I Will Follow that we distributed through what was then AFFIRM and is now ARRAY, was about a whole bunch of people getting together to distribute that film and then let's find another filmmaker and distribute that film.
4. ... Like Other Black Filmmakers Have Done Before Her ...
"There's some filmmakers that want to stay outside of that but there's a lot of filmmakers who have sort of embraced the idea of 'ok I'm going to say everybody names and I'm going to show my friends and I'm going to bring more people into it.' I think I took those cues for Haile Gerima, and Julie Dash, and Charles Burnett, and the LA Rebellion, and saw the way they stuck together ... to say that we've never had those models in the black and brown spaces – we have. They just haven't been amplified by the mainstream."
5. ... So Don't Call Black Filmmaking a Comeback
"This idea of tribe is super, super big to me. And I think we have that. I think the audience feels it ... that's why I don't like the idea of 'this is a renaissance. And this is a new era. Trends.' No. We're just going to be like, this is a continuum that continues going. It never stopped."
6. She Knows Filmmaking is Built on Racism ...
"We work in an industry that is founded on the tenants of The Birth of a Nation. That film is the first. That's what our whole industry is built on top of. That racist, skewed bias foundation, if you even breakdown the images themselves. But then also, you know, all of the architecture that's been put on top of the image. All of the systems that lock the story in place."
7. ... That Still Leaves So Many Creators Out to This Day
"There are huge pieces to the system. Right? It's like you get one prisoner out of jail, and that one story, is lovely. But we need to change the system around it. That's what I was talking about in 13th. We need to look at the systems that lock us in place because lots of times we've been celebrating Ava and Justin and Lena and Shonda and Spike and Gina and Kasi and one by one and that's fantastic but at what point are we going to say 'yes part of our tribe is that we're looking at the systems that surround us.' We are anomalies ... In order to make sure it is truly hundreds more in an industry of thousands we need to start addressing systems and there are systems around us, you and me right now, that prevent there to be a larger opening where we're no longer an anomaly."
8. She Thinks the Oscars Are Overrated, Too!
"When I was at the Oscars that year and I had worked on all those campaigns and taken so many actors down that carpet and I had finally walked that carpet and I was sitting there, I remember sitting there, looking around and thinking – this is just a room with people dressed up. This is just a room, with a whole bunch of white folk dressed up and everyone just wants to win this thing."
9. As a Black Filmmaker, She Knows There is a Constant Double Consciousness...
"[With Selma] my intention is to make it for black people. The studio's intention is to make it for everybody. [A Wrinkle in Time] my intention is to make it so it's really speaking to black and brown people, the studio's intention is that it speaks to everybody. Trying to make these hybrid things is a part of what we do."
10. ... But Sometimes She Can Table It
"But when I make Queen Sugar I am speaking to negros ... I really said I want to make something that just very, very gets into the specificity of black familial life. Not even in the south, just black families. And that in the same way that Six Feet Under wants to do that for white families and Friday Night Lights wants to do that for white families and every show I've watched growing up for years and years does that for white families, I just want to do it for black families."
For more on the incredible Ava, Listen to the full interview on Don't @ Me here: