First black woman to direct a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar
‘I’m bolstered by folks who create their own ceilings.’
Regarding “the glass ceiling,” I think there have been cracks made by women who can get close enough to hit it with the weapon of their presence. But I’m mostly bolstered by folks who create their own ceilings. I’m less interested in banging down the door of some man who doesn’t want me there. I’m more about building my own house. Certainly, I sit here privileged, after decades of women who have done it and have allowed me to think in this way. I am grateful to them.
For anyone who is working in a house that was not built for them, at times it is not particularly welcoming. There are ways to work within a system. There are like-minded people who understand the power of their privilege and understand that they can open up opportunities for others. But largely not. So, it’s about making sure we push against tokenism and vain attempts at diversity, and push for different points of view to be centered, valued and seen.
As a publicist, I was on sets where no one knew my name. My work wasn’t valued beyond the product. So as a filmmaker, I like to know about my crew members. The experience of making something embeds itself in the image. When I watch a film, I can tell when it’s been made with no joy. I try to have joy in my filmmaking.
If the person who gets to tell the story is always one kind of person, if the dominant images that we see throughout our lifetimes, our mothers’ lifetimes, our grandmothers’ lifetimes, have been dominated by one kind of person, and we take that? We internalize it. We drink it in, as true, as fact. The images in our minds that make up our memories are all told by one kind of person, one kind of background. It shouldn’t be this way. That is a deficit to us. A deficit to the culture.
DuVernay directed Selma, an Oscar nominee for Best Picture, and 13th, an Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature.