Ava DuVernay's Advice to Women in Hollywood: "Fight for Your Stories"
Oscar nominations still "amplify work in a way nothing else does," says the director of the nominated documentary '13th,' who spoke to THR from the set of Disney's 'A Wrinkle in Time.'
“What do this year’s more inclusive nominations mean for the industry?
Very similar to the prison system in this country, where over the years we’ve put Band-Aids on something that needs surgery, in the film industry we’ve often done cosmetic changes to something that needs structural reconstruction. As far as the Academy goes, there now are structural changes put in place — and I was part of that decision-making — and the hope is that those changes will continue to manifest in years like this where the true world is reflected, but we won’t know until years to come. We can applaud this year’s Oscar nominations, and we should. It’s a beautiful year, and it will be even more beautiful when there are Latino, Asian-American, Native American, people with disabilities [represented].
What do you say to women and people of color who are daunted by the obstacles in Hollywood?
Anyone who thinks it’s too daunting should go do something else, because if you walk in thinking that it’s daunting, then it’s going to be that for you, and this is not for you. But if you walk in ready for it, to fight for your stories, to recognize that the traditional walls are collapsing, that the old system is on its last legs, that there are new ways to create material, to distribute material, to amplify your material, there’s no one stopping you. What you really have to interrogate is what do you want: Do you want to tell your story or do you want to be famous and win an Academy Award? ‘Cause those are two different things. There’s nothing stopping you anymore from telling your story.
Julie Dash, a beautiful filmmaker far, far more talented than I am, was making films in the early '90s, and her [Daughters of the Dust] became a classic film that’s in the National Archives. But she’s not a household name; she only joined the Academy last year when I lobbied to get her in — she’s on the margins and the outskirts of quote-unquote mainstream Hollywood, and yet over the years she’s found a way to tell her stories and be satisfied outside of that industry paradigm. So if you want to tell your stories, what I would say to someone is, “Go tell them.” And I believe that that is not a frivolous statement: It can be done; there are people doing it and go for it.”
Read the full interview here
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