Monday, August 22, 2016


The really good folks over at THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER Magazine managed to get an interview with both Filmmaker ANA DuVERNAY and Media Mogul OPRAH WINFREY to discuss their project, QUEEN SUGAR, their push for INCLUSION (NOT Diversity), dealing with BLACK LIVES MATTER beyond the hashtag, #BLACKLIVESMATTER, and so Much MORE!!!

Here are some interview interludes from THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: AVA DuVERNAY & OPRAH WINFREY:

Oprah, was it always your plan following Selma to lure Ava to OWN? 
WINFREY I never, capital N-E-two-Vs-A-H, ask anybody for anything. The price you have to pay in return is never what I want to do. So it was really difficult for me to say, "Would you do this for me and for OWN?"
DUVERNAY I made it known in the industry that I wanted to do a show and was being approached by some of the notables that most people would want to do a show with, but when your friend owns a network, you know, it might be good to just go over there. (Laughter.)
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.
It is presented in policing and imprisonment, too. 
DUVERNAY There are integrations in terms of the police aggression, echoes of prison and the formerly incarcerated. That is also part of the movement that we try to handle in a way that feels elegant and not hitting you over the head like, "Let's do the rally scene!"
WINFREY Everybody gets caught up in the slogan and the hashtag and the protest. What we're trying to do is get you to feel it. You get to feel it when Ralph Angel [Kofi Siriboe] is putting his son to bed, laying with him and reading a story. Intimacy and connection between a father and son? We've just not seen it [with black characters on series TV].
Can black stories accurately be told by people who aren't black?
DUVERNAY Artists should be free to create what we want. I believe there's a special value in work that is a reflection of oneself as opposed to interpretation. When I see a film or a TV show about black people not written by someone who's black, it's an interpretation of that life.
WINFREY I think it depends upon your level of experience.


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