8th Annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon



With all of the Oscar-buzz right now, I figured it was important that we take a moment to look at the marginalization of women in film, off-camera specifically, that has made no sign of improvement in the 86 years that the Academy Awards have existed. In fact, in 1947, 6% of winners were female. In 2011, the number was 7%. (Both percentages include acting awards).

And here we are in 2015. The first African American woman with a chance at a Best Director nominee. A year full of successful films shot by women (The Rover, The Skeleton Twins, Cake). But yet, unsurprisingly, each of the above listed categories are still limited to men this year. (Except Boyhood editor Sandra Adair). With almost nine decades behind us, and yet such little progress, it becomes difficult to believe that the glass ceiling for creative and talented women in this industry is even remotely penetrable.

Who is your favorite female filmmaker? (any and all disciplines welcome).


Celebrities stop by the ESSENCE photo booth in the New Orleans Convention Center during Fourth of July weekend 2015: Yara Shahidi and mother Keri Shahidi, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Josiah Bell, Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin, Lianne La Havas, Gabourey Sidibe and Jussie Smollett, Goapele, Ava DuVernay, and Justine Skye


12 Years a Slave’s Storm Reid has landed the lead role in Ava DuVernay and Disney’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic children’s book, A Wrinkle in Time.

The story centers on Meg Murry, a young girl traumatized by the disappearance of her scientist father years before, who finds herself on an interplanetary journey with a schoolmate and her younger brother to find him. They are aided on their quest by a trio of supernatural beings, Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey).

As THR first reported, Disney has made the race of L’Engle’s main characters black or mixed race, making the Murry family now a mixed-race one. The studio is currently looking for a non-white actor to play the schoolmate, Calvin O’Keefe.

This morning director Ava DuVernay joins the growing list of women whose films received Oscar nominations for Best Picture without receiving a nomination for Best Director themselves.

The list of women who have directed Best Picture nominees/winners:

  • Randa Haines, Children of a Lesser God, 1986
  • Barbra Streisand, The Prince of Tides, 1991
  • Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine, 2007 (her co-director Jonathan Dayton received a nomination) correction: neither Faris nor her co-director were nominated that year. 
  • Loveleen Tandan, Slumdog Millionaire, 2008  (her co-director Danny Boyle won the Oscar for Best Director that year)  
  • Lone Scherfig, An Education, 2009
  • Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right, 2010
  • Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone, 2010
  • Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty, 2013
  • Ava DuVernay, Selma, 2015

Additionally Kátia Lund, co-director of City of God, did not receive a nomination for her work on the film despite the fact that her co-director  Fernando Meirelles did.

Only 4 women have ever been nominated for best director and only 1, Kathryn Bigelow, has won. 

Marvel Officially Hires Ava DuVernay to Direct Black Panther Movie
Why this is great news for Marvel in more ways than one.

Marvel made good on one of the most exciting rumors surrounding their upcoming Phase Three slate. Ava DuVernay of Selma fame will direct Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther, Marvel’s first minority-led superhero movie.

The DuVernay choice is great news for the future of the Marvel franchise not only because of the more diverse perspective she can bring to the table (she’d be the first non-white, non-male director to see a Marvel film to its completion), but also because in hiring someone with such strong vision, Marvel can combat accusations that its lucrative franchise is a creatively stifling place for directors. In the past, Marvel has employed a wide-range of creative directorial talents from Kenneth Branagh and Shane Black toJon Favreau and Joss Whedon. But it’s only been a year since Edgar Wright left the studio’s Ant-Man, a project he had been developing for the better part of a decade, over creative differences and just a few months since Whedon sounded off with remarkable candor about the “really unpleasant” storytelling battles he lost in making Avengers: Age of Ultron.


Ava DuVernay creates #CelebrateStarWarsVII hashtag, silences racist trolls

In response to the racist fuckery that is the #boycottStarWarsVII hashtag, director and activist Ava DuVernay created the hashtag #CelebrateStarWars as a way for fans to celebrate and share their excitement for the upcoming film.


Ava DuVernay Barbie doll 

Director of the Academy Award Best Picture nominee, SELMA, and founder of African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, which provides opportunities and resources to underrepresented filmmakers.

Order here

Admin notes: The doll sold out in just a few hours. Adding to wish list just in case they re-stock.

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It’s Selma that’s making my head spin. Ava DuVernay was, frankly, robbed of a Best Director nomination - a nomination that would have made history. She would have been the first black woman nominated for the award, the fourth black person and the fifth woman. And get this - she deserved it! The Bloody Sunday sequence alone makes the case for her inclusion, although I’d say the rest of the film is very well directed. Also left out from Selma is Bradford Young, who shot two of the best looking movies this year (A Most Violent Year, totally shut out, was the other). How does he not make the cut? How does David Oyelowo not get nominated for an incredible turn as Martin Luther King? And when you think about Selma being left out of the Best Screenplay race, think about this - the movie couldn’t use any of Dr. King’s actual speeches due to rights issues (Dreamworks owns the speeches, believe it or not). All of the speeches in that movie were written for the movie.

Dick Poop Or, The Expected Ignorance Of Oscar Nominations

Even if you expected the Oscar noms to be bad, you couldn’t have expected them to be this bad.