‘Selma’s’ Ava DuVernay: ‘Studios Aren’t Lining Up for Black Protagonists’

Ava DuVernay SXSW Speech
Heather Kennedy/Getty

Ava DuVernay had an epiphany while attending this year’s Oscars ceremony, where “Selma” received two nominations including best picture, but was snubbed in categories like acting and directing.

“It was a room in L.A.,” DuVernay said in her keynote speech at SXSW on Saturday morning. “It’s not anything but a big room with very nice people dressed up. It’s very cool. But my work’s worth is not about what happens in, around or for that room.”

DuVernay delivered a passionate, at times emotional, speech in Austin about her journey making “Selma,” revealing she was Paramount’s seventh choice to direct the drama about the 1965 civil rights marches.

A member of the audience asked DuVernay why it took so long for Hollywood to tell King’s story.

“The studios aren’t lining up to make films about black protagonists,” DuVernay said. “Black people being autonomous and independent.” But she later stressed that it was important for diverse filmmakers to find ways to get their stories told (“go do the work”).

“I’ve had the f—ing most awesome year,” DuVernay said. “I can’t even describe it.”

She still tried. Her memories included screening her film at the White House 100 years after “The Birth of a Nation” played there, and then being asked to stay for dinner with the Obamas. “I think it might have been because I was rolling with Oprah,” DuVernay said.

She recalled having a panic attack on the night that her movie premiered at the AFI Fest last November. “I went to the bathroom,” DuVernay said. “I vomited, I cried. [I thought], they are going to put me in director’s jail. I was freaking myself out.” But then she stood in front of the theater and received a rapturous standing ovation, and realized they were clapping for her film.

She said that on Christmas Day, when “Selma” opened in limited release, she and David Oyelowo (who plays Martin Luther King Jr. in the $20 million drama) drove to five theaters in Los Angeles to watch audiences watching the film. “That brought me more joy than I think I experienced on everything that happened,” DuVernay said.

She described how Prada flew in two seamstresses from Italy for one of her awards show appearances, “to get these hips right in the dress.”

DuVernay said that the script to “Selma” was a challenge, because producers told her they couldn’t afford the rights to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches. “What do you mean?” she asked them. “He’s Dr. King. He’s about the speeches.”

But as she was working on the screenplay, she made sure to add women characters to the story. “The women of the movement never got their due,” she said.

DuVernay talked about how, as a young director making indies like 2010’s “I Will Follow” (with a budget of $50,000 from personal savings) and 2012’s “Middle of Nowhere” (which cost $200,000), she found herself focusing on wrong measures of success — like box office grosses and recognition from Sundance.

But with “Selma,” she focused all her energy on servicing the story. “If your dream is only about you, it’s too small,” she said.

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  1. Alex says:

    “Diversity” is a code word for “anti-White.”

  2. Christopher Kirk says:

    Great article!! So inspirational for me as an aspiring writer / director!! Thanks Ava!!!

  3. Rev.Julia McKennaJOhnson says:

    Hello Folks, Being a Pastor and Kahu(Spiritual Shepherd(Hawaiian term)for 29 years, having been involved since the early 60’s in civil rights activities beginning back east and now living in Pacific Northwest, I was the guest pastor for Selma Sunday at the local Unitarian Universalist fellowship. There was a LIMITED engagement showing SELMA at the local movie theaters, one week…since I was very familiar with that painful,shameful era & event,& was speaking on it the next week,I went to see it. There were NINE people in the theater..I came equipped with a box of Kleenex and some peanutbutter chocolates for comfort food in anticipation of needing both. I DID. My personal & professional belief of freedom for ALL deserves to be respected.I feel the film was so well cast,performed, written, directed,true to actual events as I knew them to be AND for me elicited deep emotional response,reaction;was very thought & soul provoking I along with so many others was taken aback at the categories it was NOT nominated in for the Academy Awards.It was a re reminder of how America across the board is sadly STILL a racially divided nation…oh for sure there have been some advances, some changes,and way too many ‘cosmetic’ so called advances. As I white woman, a professional who myself experiences discrimination for what I look like,stand up for, teach,&support,I have a degree of empathy,compassion & yes at times disgust at the overall insincerity & limited respect & acknowledgment for how the professional works of people of color,especially blacks are still dismissed,or publicly ignored. I say blacks as opposed to African Americans because as a very dear friend who happens to be black reminds me”do I refer to you as an Irish-Scot-Italian Caucasian?”I got the point.Please know ALLinvolved in the making of SELMA have my respect & appreciation. The journey continues,we ALL ARE family,Equal “According to our deeds ARE we known.” I know this to be the IDEAL for our society to be evolved,Godly,no matter what one’s beliefs…Thank you for putting your hearts & souls into bringing this worthy,needed film to life.May we all finish this march of life with grace,respect for each other & not be afraid to stand up for what we believe in. America,’The land of the free & the brave,’ where freedom as never been free;& those who stand up on the side of freedom deserve our respect & support.With my Aloha(seeing the spirit of the Creator with love n kindness),
    Rev.Julia McKennaJohnson, founder of Each One Reach One

  4. JKF says:

    “You can catch more flies with honey, than can using vinegar” Oprah is one of richest women in THE WORLD. She didn’t get there by cutting off her nose to spite her face. Ask her.

  5. JJ says:

    Ben Carson for President. This man came out of poverty and became a brain surgeon for children. He doesn’t see color with kid’s heads open. He sees human beings, period. Drop the race issues, it’s very unbecoming.

  6. nerdrage says:

    The state Hollywood is in, we’re likely to get a black protagonist only if they switch Spider-Man to the Miles Morales character or for Green Lantern, they opt for John Stewart over Hal Jordan.

  7. Ronny says:

    More of our young black men (over 450 a YEAR in Chicago) are killed by other black men. We need to get that taken care of before anything else. So get to Chicago, Al Sharpton…and Jesse Jackson…and Holder…and Obama…and Common….and John legend….and King James, the list goes on.

  8. Coach L. says:

    We all need to settle down. We’ve have created a new and much deeper racial divide, by belly-achin and protesting about crimes none of us, know nothin about. We need to keep our mouths shut and our personal opinions out of it. Or things are gonna get worse, for blacks in our industry.

  9. Jonah says:

    Straight-up. America is 75% white, 14% black, 11% everything else. I believe that the racial tensions that have arisen in the last year due to our constituents Cop bashing and blaming the Police with black deaths, with hundreds of our prominent entertainers, legislators, politicians and activists, propagating the false narrative “Hands-Up Don’t Shoot,” as our mantra, as the motive.

    The tensions have created a Nation wide divide, due to our leaders taking sides and making statements, via twitter and awards shows, prior to the investigations of a case.

    That’s why we won’t see whites flocking to our films, specifically, to films and TV shows. Holder found those cases facts to be unfounded and quite frankly, the opposite of what we all first thought.

  10. @DJ-Ultimate Wreckage – Yes Leo Dicaprio as a villain was a huge plus for the film. If Jamie Foxx being the lead was all it took then why hasn’t there been a Jamie Foxx lead story since then? Why wasn’t he nominated for an oscar (DiCap was as well as Christoph Waltz who won). But understand what Ava Du Vernay said “The studios aren’t lining up to make films about black protagonists, Black people being autonomous and independent.” While Django was the titular character he wasn’t autonomous or independent until the last 30 minutes of the film. For most of Django Unchained we see a broken slave who was bought out of slavery and literally given everthing by a kind white man (Dr. King Schultz) who gives him his freedom, his dignity, a job/skill and tacit permission to kill white people. Will Smith who was reportedly offered the role said Django wasn’t the hero another actor Jeffery Wright made the same observation. You see the same dynamic in 12 Years A Slave, its a true story but its also a story of a black man who get captured into slavery and has to endure it for over a decade until a nice white man gets him out. See the pattern? Thats what she’s talking about. Heck people chafed at how LBJ was downplayed in Selma.

    • squck says:

      The thing is, Django Unchained was just a spaghetti western pastiche—-it didn’t even bother going into the reasons behind slavery or any real examination of it—it was just used as background for a big-budget exploitation piece, which is all DU was. 12 Years a Slave was way more realistic, but I wouldn’t even compare the two, since one (the former) is just a piece of garbage anyway,and they’re not even in the same universe as each other. And LBJ wasn’t downplayed at all in SELMA—some white folks are probably just mad that the film dosen’t revolve around him,that’s all. Which it dosen’t, because it’s not about him,

  11. Spider says:

    Studios aren’t lining up for Hispanic protagonists, neither!

  12. PETER says:

    Okay, Nic R, so what’s your solution? That’s the way things are. If anybody wants more black movies, then the billionaire and millionaire Hollywood blacks, like Oprah, can make them. I have enough major problems in my life to be worried about black problems. Are blacks worried about me and my problems? And the reason Chris Hemsworth is playing Thor is because he looks like Thor! One problem the blacks have is that they’re putting their millions into comedies where they can make more millions instead of putting their money into meaningful, little independent movies that won’t make much money but that the liberal, artsy film festival audience will love like BIRDMAN, WHIPLASH, BOYHOOD, etc. Everybody could cry and whine and act entitled, like getting all the Oscar nominations for SELMA, ’cause it’s the one, okay and serious black movie made this year, but it doesn’t work that way.

    • squck says:

      First of all, no one asked you to be worried about what you call “black problems”. If you weren’t that interested, you wouldn’t have made that stupid comment. And “the blacks”? Um,excuse me, we’re PEOPLE TOO, you know,not THINGS you call whatever. We deal with out own problems,too—you don’t have a claim on just you having any. And,uh, black filmmakers have been making indie films since the dawn of motion pictures—they simply don’t get promoted as much as white indies do,especially if they don’t fit the Hollywood norm. Hollywood PERIOD puts its money into whatever sells and makes millions the quickest.

      Thor is a fictional character—which means he can be any color. FYI, DuVernay had already made two indie films herself before she made SELMA—apparently you didn’t read the article all the way through. And indie films are just more then “liberal,artsy” stuff–they’re a good reminder that Hollywood isn’t the only place in the world you can make good films,especially films that are more true to everyday life.

    • Peter have you ever heard of movie called Beasts of the Southern Wild? It was a little indy film that was nominated for an oscar. There are MANY small great indy black cast films out there but like you said ” have enough major problems in my life to be worried about black problems” which means you don’t bother looking for those stories which is why studios for the most part don’t bother promoting them as much as birdman, whiplash and boyhood. And Idris Elba looks like Black Panther and Anthony Mackey played Falcon..don’t see the studio clamoring to make those comic book movies do ya?? Ever wonder why? Oh forgot you can’t be worried about that..

  13. Filmmaker John Lindsay Green says:

    It’s a great OPPORTUNITY indeed for Ava to discuss what it took, to obtain the rights of Dr. King’s speeches, as the main focal point of the movie Selma. In addition, thanks to public articles, which do discuss the millions and millions of dollars, that are seemingly handed to non-black directors and their film projects without even as much as a blink of an eye. For studios, to continually make these false assertions when it comes to projects featuring films containing a mostly all black cast ensemble, and/or themes which resonate from the black experience, these excuses from the studios are not valid period. Next, for the studios to not be able to find a black director for the movie Selma, again is pure and utter non-sense.

    If the studios are actually experiencing such problems of finding black film directors, then I strongly suggest, that the studio heads and others, influence guilds such as the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Producers Guild of America (PGA) respectively, to initiate serious dialogue regarding the extremely low membership numbers which exist within both these guilds when it comes to African American film directors and film producers.

    This has been a serious problem within these guilds since the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s, and here we are in the 21st century, and there’s been no change to actively increase the membership of non-black directors and producers within these guilds. Why is that? While it’s easy and cost nothing, to toss around catch phrases of ‘diversity,’ acting on it is another story, because talk is cheap, and nothing more than at best empty and meaningless rhetoric.

    I CHALLENGE both the DGA and the PGA to do what is RIGHT, by showing courage, by increasing membership within both guilds for African Americans within the film and television industry. I also CHALLENGE the Writers Guild of America (WGA) to do the same. Don’t just TALK about IT…BE about it!

  14. PETER says:

    This comment discussion is great. I respect and appreciate Ava for working hard to create her art, but maybe she cooled down some. All the complaints about not getting Oscar nominated were ridiculous, when legendary Clint Eastwood, Chris Nolan, and David Fincher were also not nominated for Best Director. The Academy and Oscar Show was obviously leftist, liberal. And didn’t a Mexican win Best Picture and Best Director? And wasn’t 12 YEARS A SLAVE best movie last year and Best Supporting Actress went to a young, Afro woman? Everybody behind the nominated movies worked their asses off and had it difficult for one reason or another not just Ava. Please, we really want more Sidney Poitier’s and Denzel’s, instead of the black comedians, and then they will get their Oscar nominations!

  15. saladspinner says:

    Boy White people can’t stand for anything to be about anyone but them! Ava is stating true facts and YOU’RE the ones whining. People can’t even state their darn experiences without you all wanting to be patted on the back. Look around and all you see is White faces in everything. Let others have the spotlight for once. Jeeze.

    • Atilla Thehun says:

      Well, you may have sealed your own fate

    • Julie says:

      They sure wouldn’t let others have the spotlight at the Oscars. They didn’t get the specific nominations they wanted (Best Director, Best Actor), so they bashed the show 24/7, and created a bunch of drama. As if anybody owes anybody else an Oscar. At this point, it comes across as a temper tantrum fueled by deep-seeded envy.

  16. dean says:

    Does this woman EVER stop bitching? She refuses to accept that SHE is to blame for lower attendance. Demonizing a president who was enthusiastically behind King, doesn’t make anybody want to see your film.
    Then loudly whining because she wasn’t nominated for best director, even though her film was nominated? And fuming it was because of racism and anti feminism?
    Being a sore loser doesn’t you get anywhere in any profession.

    • squck says:

      There is nowhere in the article that she is “whining” about anything. And to be fair, it has been OTHER people on social media who have pointed out the fact that she was barely nominated. DuVernay herself has rarely said too much about it. So stop making accusation you can’t prove. And what do you mean by “lower attendance” Do you even know what you’re talking about, because I sure as heck don’t. I am also tired of people like you who haven’t even SEEN the film putting it down. The fact is, the films is about ALL the people who were responsible for putting the Selma march together. It is NOT a biography or either King or LBJ or even one person. Which you would know had you actually SEEN the film in the first place.

      “Then loudly whining because she wasn’t nominated for best director, even though her film was nominated? And fuming it was because of racism and anti feminism?
      Being a sore loser doesn’t you get anywhere in any profession.”

      You’re whining more about it than she herself ever was.

      And,uh, LBJ only got behind the civil right movement because it was the civil rights fighters and protestors themselves whose getting damn near killed for fighting for their rights pushed him into finally passing the Civil Rights Bill, and no,he wasn’t always behind King, and yeah, he was a straight-up racist, which has been well documented. Frankly, I think a lot of white folks have a problem with the film because it dosen’t center on a main white character,like it always has in other movies about the CRM. The films puts the focus squarely on who it ought to be—-the black people who started the whole thing (and the white folks who also joined up and contributed to the cause.) There’s another good film called BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME (2009) an indie film about the true story of racial tensions in a small South Carolina town in the late 60s (the book it’s based on is really good,too.) It’s worth seeing because not only are black people shown starting their own civil rights movement and raising hell about the injustices in their town, there ‘s also a white main character, but he dosen’t play the savior role at all—maybe that’s why this film barely got any promotion when it came out. Worth looking for,though.

    • Lisa says:

      I missed the part in this article where she was wining about not getting nominated. I did read where she said she had a great year, though. Perhaps you’re projecting? Or trying to make someone out to be a victim who is no way claiming to be one.

    • Fre says:

      I second that.

  17. Atomic Fury says:

    Aside from the fact that our first black President has done anything but make race relations better, how does expecting the path to be cleared for you simply due to your skin color and whining about it supposed to make things any better?

    I’m so tired of the implication that this is a white man’s country designed to keep the black man down. Of course it’s easy to say that since white’s have been the predominant (by numbers) race throughout history and are responsible for overseeing the development of civilized and technologically advanced society.

    There are more successful black entrepreneurs today than ever in the history of humankind. They have the money and the means to provide the financial backing to make films and distribute them. Instead of wailing about the lack of opportunities afforded to black folks how about making opportunities of your own. Of course it’s tough because life is supposed to be tough.

    • squck says:

      Wow,what privileged ignorance we have here. First of all, race relations have ALWAYS been bad in this country from day one. Second of all, there are still a lot of people out there (including mainly white people) who still can’t stand the fact that our President is black, and continue to flat-out disrespect because of that. Third,this country became the great country it is today because ALL of us made it that way (it was also built off the backs of black slaves who spent 300 ears toiling in the sun, which made white people in the South rich,plus the Chinese workers who built the railroads without getting paid much, and the Native Americans who helped some of the first white settlers survive in America,and got their land ripped off by those white people.) Bottom line,white people didn’t make America all b themselves, so stop trying to ho all the damn credit—y’all didn’t do it on your own, and you know that. And hell, yeah, white folks did their damndest to keep black people and anybody else who wasn’t white at the bottom of society for over a couple of hundred years. Don’t try and pretend like that didn’t happen,and act like the white man/women did everything,when they didn’t. I guess that whole 300 years of slavery and 100 of Jim Crow just went away by itself,huh? Read a history book,please.

      Also,nobody said a damn thing about making a path clear for anybody,even though white folks have been clearing paths for each other in Hollywood for decades. All DuVernay is saying is that Hollywood still ignores and does not nurture black talent the way it does white talent. And, in the 21st century,that just plain damn ridiculous as hell—especially in this new multicultural world. Even Chris Rock, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the last two decades,had something to say about race and racism in Hollywood—he brought up some of the same issues she mentioned.

      Also, the last couple of successful black films—The Best Man Holiday, Precious, Ride Along,About Last Night,both Think Like A Man movies,The Butler, 12 Years A Slave,were all written,produced,financed and directed by black people. So black folks have already been making their own films for some time now.

      • WKS says:

        Well said Squck .. his ignorance of historical fact was enlightening .. “are responsible for overseeing the development of civilized and technologically advanced society…” Is he serious? For thousands and thousands of years, The great African civilizations like Mali and Ghana were at the center of the modern world. Widely held as the seat of knowledge, philosophy and science teachings… What they didn’t have was the thirst for greed and power that seems to be inherent in the white man .. All of his gains in this hemisphere have been ill-gotten… Sorry, but your lack of historical understanding shows…

    • please explain how a president can make race relations better? Did lincoln do that?? did LBJ?? show me one president before this one who made race relations better??

    • Lisa says:

      I saw this documentary yesterday on WWII and the stories of people that fought in that war. Did you know that not only were the men who where black and served in that war treated like subhuman even after they fought, but some men who wanted to fight weren’t even allowed to simply because they were black. Every other race: Indian, Hispanic and even at first Japanese were allowed to serve alongside white men in that war but not black men. They had to be in their own platoon–with their own substandard medics. There has never been a time in this country’s history that black people were thought of as generally equal to whites. Not one. There has never been a president who’s been openly ridiculed because of his race before this one—and by other political officials no less.

      I say all this because it’s amazing to me how so many people like to live under the delusion that the oppression felt by black people is the same as any other “tough” hand you’ve been dealt. Whatever hardships you’ve had in your life, you’ve would’ve had the extra burden of dealing with racism in this country. And however tough as it was, being black would’ve made it that much tougher. It’s never NOT been true. Never. Not today, not 8 years ago, not 40 years ago, not ever. So if people like you could just recognize that there is a lot to make up for, a lot to repair instead of living by your short term memory, we can make repairing things a lot easier. Because it’s short sighted to think that those soldiers and other black people 60 years ago weren’t affected by those random acts of cruelty, or that their children didn’t have the burden of what happened to their parents plus the “benefit” of being prevented from going to white schools and having “white” education as a standard, or that their children didn’t have those burdens plus not being able to get the job they were qualified for just because of their skin, or that their children didn’t have those burdens plus the added weight of seeing other black people portrayed in movies and TV mostly as gangstas or prostitutes, or that their children were affected by all those burdens plus the extra weight of having white people tell them that they (oblivious white people) are the real victims because black people have it no different from them and to “stop wining” when they finally start to lift their voices for change.

  18. Fidel007 says:

    ‘Selma’s’ Ava DuVernay: ‘Studios Aren’t Lining Up for Black Protagonists’…So what! Go get indie financing. Thats what film festivals are also for.

    • squck says:

      First of all, it’s harder for black filmmakers to get funding—-the director of Dear White People, Justin Simien, after getting turned down by studio after studio in Hollywood because they didn’t know what to make of his script,or because it didn’t fit into what their notion of a “black film” was supposed to be—he wound up getting his friend crowdfunding on Kickstarter (it took him good couple of years to complete the film.

    • Lisa says:

      In case you missed it, the question was why there wasn’t a major studio feature about MLK made before Selma. You comment was her answer to that question. Hopefully you feel ridiculous now.

  19. jhs39 says:

    Studios aren’t lining up for movies starring black protagonists because their primary motivation for making movies (unless they happen to be directly or indirectly holocaust related) is profits and there is a lower profit ceiling for movies with black leads. Kevin Hart and Denzel Washington are both reliable box office draws in North America but not worldwide which is where the studios make most of their money these days. Movies with majority or completely black casts (No Good Deed; The Best Man Holiday; Think Like A Man; anything by Tyler Perry) don’t attract non-black audiences and don’t play outside of North America which severely limits the profit ceilings for those films compared with horror movies which can be made for comparable budgets or less and be sold all over the world. Black movies simply don’t make enough money to interest Hollywood studios in a significant way–the audience for them is too small.

    • For the last near 100 years Hollywood has been all about promoting white people and whiteness more so than anything. So much so that its become the standard worldwide. Which is why you can stick any white person as the lead in any story set in any country and no one blinks but a person of color (not white) playing the lead is a problem. And sure you can have a handful of nonwhite actors who have broad appeal Will Smith, Jackie Chan, for example but thats a REAL short list.

      Example who the hell is Chris Hemsworth? Some Australian actor who wasn’t a household name but given the lead in a 150 million budget comic book flick (thor) that played world wide. Yet a comic book film with a black hero MUST have an already established star in order to get the green-light. Wesley Snipes’s Blade film kicked off this era’s comic book movie resurgence but you haven’t seen another black hero film since have you? Black Panther? Falcon? Luke Cage all been batted around but all we get are hems and haws as to when or if these stories will come out depending on how big a black star can be attached to it. Meanwhile Guardians of the Galaxy can get made with a barely known white guy who plays a supporting role in a middling rated TV SHOW (Parks and Recreation) as its lead, go worldwide and make a kabillion bucks.

      That email from the producer in the Sony hacking who said that maybe they shouldn’t put Denzel in big action movies because: “I believe that the international motion picture audience is racist – in general, pictures with an African-American lead don’t play well overseas.”…

      If overseas audiences are racist then shouldn’t they reject whites as well?? Lets say that being disinterested in seeing people who DON’T look like you is a natural reaction…its a story with Asians but I’m not Asian so I don’t care..okay I understand that..then why is a movie with an all white cast playing in theaters in japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea?? How many all asian cast films get wide release in the US? Over the world? None unless its Jackie Chan and that’s it.

      The international audience isn’t rejecting black people, they are rejecting anything thats not WHITE…and how did that happen? Why is the primary languages spoken in half of Africa and parts of Asia, European languages? Why is SPANISH the primary language of central and south America? How did that happen? Through imperialism, colonialism and brute force. European/white hegemony has altered in some cases the very make up of all those countries so much so that in some countries in Africa skin bleaching/whitening creams are still sought out in the 21st century. There are people who reject their own native language and religion for Catholicism or Protestantism and a history that skews toward a European flavor. They don’t hate blacks, they hate THEMSELVES. But just as badly they’ve been CONDITIONED to love anything that’s European/white. Thats why Black cast movies don’t do as well abroad.

      • squck says:

        You make some great points—most of which are true. I looked up info on that email, and it was sent out just as THE EQUALIZER (a pretty good action thriller flick) was released,and it went on to make $191 million dollars—47% of that foreign grosses. So once again, this exec didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. And black cast films don’t get promoted overseas unless Will, Denzel, or Sam is in it—which is just plain racist and stupid as hell. Funny how when an American film flops overseas, nobody ever says, “Hmmm, maybe we need to quit promoting films about white people in this particular country,because films starring certain white people.” They NEVER say that, no matter how many flops said white star has. You spoke of Hemsworth—-for example,there’s a talented actor named Ryan Reynolds,whom Hollywood has been trying to make into a star for a least a decade now, even though his latest film, “R.I.P.D.” was a huge flop at the box office—yet he still continues to get some leads,and he’s been in some other flops too. In other words, if he was a brother, he wouldn’t be getting that push at all,and that’s a fact.

      • Explain the success of Django Unchained, then? DiCaprio? He was in it for half of the movie? Tarantino, then, surely. You are right, Tarantino brought the audiences in from an international standpoint, but explain to me why a movie like Django Unchained can make over 250 million internationally and be the biggest grossing movie of his career whilst being at an insanely long movie with a black protagonist, and also be about slavery? Inglourious couldn’t do it, Kill Bill couldn’t do it, and I’m willing to bet Hateful 8 can’t do it.

  20. Julie says:

    First of all, she wasn’t snubbed. She is not on the level of best Director. Not even close. Make your own independent movies if the studios won’t give you their money. Doesn’t Oprah have 3 billion dollars? Why can’t she put up the money for a movie with a black lead? So sick of it already.

    • Lisa says:

      Hey Julie. She has (and I’m assuming will continue) to make indie films. That’s why she said getting nominated for an Oscar is not what her work is about. Hopefully that helps you. You seem to be angry over nothing.

  21. Sean Kennedy says:

    How about the other minorities and their stories and getting a chance to just be a small part of a any film production..Stop portraying yourself as the ONLY person that’ helped minorities work in the industry!! Your self-serving and selfish instigation personality within the industry is biting the hand that helped you!! Not to mention how you distorted and maligned President Johnson after it was him who was the best ally and friend of Blacks thereby causing most of the southern states Senators and Congressman turn against President Johnson. You’re not Orson Wells nor the rest of the would be directors who had and have a difficult time in trying to also get a chance to direct his films..

    • squck says:

      OH,be quiet. First of all, she’s no portraying herself as the only people of color within the industry. And did you even SEE the movie? I did, and she didn’t malign LBJ. I really don’t get this obsession with how LBJ is portrayed, because no President is perfect,and never has been. The movie is not even about just LBJ,or Dr. King,for that matter—it’s about all the people who helped put together the Selma march,period. Why don’t you admit that you’re just mad that SELMA didn’t have some main white savior protagonist for you to latch onto? Oh,never mind—you haven’t seen the movie yet—-you just want to complain about a black director simply stating the truth—that Hollywood is still a racist place, “Nuff said.

      • Susan says:

        Many scholars say that LBJ was maligned in the movie. For instance he never had a sex tape sent to Coretta Scott King. He also instructed the Attorney General in December of 1964 to start drafting a voting rights bill, a fact not mentioned in the movie. I understand that she didn’t want to make LBJ the center of the story, but that doesn’t mean she had to make him a villain.

        It’s DuVernay’s movie and she has the freedom to portray the events however she wishes, but don’t call it history.

  22. Academy says:

    Unfortunately, with all the black and liberal white Politicians making the “Race-Baiting” claim, every chance they get…and the country being 74% white/14% black, there’s going to be a lot less of an audience for black movies.

    Especially, when it comes to blaming Cops for young black men, resisting arrest and still blaming their deaths on the Cops.

    • squck says:

      You’re full of *&^%. You know damn well that black folks get profiled and shot and killed more by the police than anyone else. So you’re damn right the cops who do this have to be and will be held accountable for it. And I’m tired of you whiny as hell right-wingers always trying to tell black people to shut up about race, as if the issues surrounding it don’t exist, just because you don’t want to hear it. Why don’t you shut the h up and stop whining about us calling racism out.

  23. abe says:

    12.8%. A little more than 1 in 10 of us is black, so Hollywood needs to attract the other 87.2%. Maybe the blacks and the liberal media will understand this?

  24. Jim says:

    Studios are ONLY lining up for Super Hero / Young Adult adaptations.

    Stop making it about race!
    White Men and Women over 30 are not “IN” at the moment either.

    • Lisa says:

      Stop assuming that because one thing isn’t true another can’t either. Seriously, what she is saying is pretty well known.

  25. Raza says:

    And Im from India. Studios are losing and tv is winning because they are willing to cater and pander and give groups that aren’t repped something. Hollywood will continue to churn our franchises. That’s alll studios are good for. Comic books and teen books turned into movies. They are not where it’s at on 2015 and beyond. They know it which is why they are grasping for anything.

  26. Raza says:

    It’s always interesting to see what I assume are white people will say when race and Hollywood will say. Ava said nothing more than studios aren’t lining up for stories with black protagonist. She also urged people of color to continue to make their stories. From that some of you idiots got that she was whining. Well guess what? We are sick of white people whining. You asses whine whenever someone speaks about race. Freak yall! And so let’s be good little slaves and not mention facts. Get over yourselves. Hollywood is dying and I can’t wait. Tv knows that black leads bring bank just ask those white folks who are behind Empire. Say all the bull you want cry all you want don’t support our movies but this world is no beyond black and money will always talk. And with technology who needs studios? Studios don’t even need studios. So stop thinking whenever someone points out a fact about Hollywood they’re whining. And so what if she gets a rep like Spike or John. So freaking what. You can’t scare people into silence. Stop your whining white America.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks Raza. Pretty perfect.

    • You tell ’em, Raza! The woman started her own distribution movement, called the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM). Blacks and other people of color are sick of you white idiots always trying to be the lead and center of everything. These white people are still smarting from LBJ not being made the hero of the movie, GTFO! We aren’t making any more films with “White Heroes;” get over it, or go suck it! Bunch of racist idiots…

    • Candice says:

      It appears, that you’ve misinterpreted what most of them are saying. I read all of the posts and it seems, that most of them have antidotes directly related to the issues Ava was describing.

      Certainly you have seen all of the divisiveness over the last 9-10 months concerning the young black deaths verses specific Police Departments? I believe that what we’ve seen, is several prominent black Politicians and Entertainers jumping into the blame-game (“Hands-Up-Don’t-Shoot” at the Grammys), as well as, protesting by burning down businesses in Ferguson Missouri, prior to knowing the facts of the case.

      Anyone with any kind of common sense, feels the bias and racism regarding their point of views and what they feel happened. That in itself will cause a automatic reaction to supporting anyone of color in the Entertainment Industry. I really felt it when I went to see “Focus” with Will Smith. Very few whites were at the film on opening night. And Will Smith has historically been supported by white audiences in prior films.

      • Lisa says:

        The problem Candice is that you have a perspective on those “divisive” issues based on not having to think about them for most of your life. So to you they are non-issues. Black people (esp black men of all economic backgrounds) have had to think about police brutality and harassment their whole life. The only reason it’s become and issue now is because black people are no longer being silent about it. If you really are interested in understanding you’ll ask someone instead of assuming the something that doesn’t pertain to you is therefore irrelevant to everyone else.

  27. shemitch says:

    It’s getting to be a bit much about race in the industry now. This is not new! Please everyone, Black and White, let’s just get to work and do such a great job on your that your race won’t even matter!

  28. Bill says:

    It’s about making stories audiences want to see, no matter what their color. This story would have been a hard sell no matter what the color of the protagonists given it’s a biographical drama, and the other biopics in the race were produced overseas.

    • Lisa says:

      Gandhi was made in 1982. I’m pretty sure most Americans knew as much as if not more about MLK than they did about Gandhi. It’s not just about today’s audiences.

  29. spike says:

    Duh. that’s because audiences aren’t lining up for black protagonists. not the sharpest tool in the shed are ya? the studios, bless their money-grubbing little hearts, do what audiences want to see. blacks are 10 percent of the population. and only a small percentage of whites want to consistently line up for black-themed films. unless it’s the equalizer.

  30. Robbie Goldstein says:

    I don”t get demographic breakdowns by income, ethnicity, race, or anything else the studios can do
    to discover, where their money comes from. My only ability to assess is by seeing who is sitting in the theater next to me. You know from the advertisement when it is intended for black audiences. In all honesty, does the black community support the films aimed specifically at them?

    • by your logic then The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Fifty Shades of Grey are intended for just white people correct? They are in fact white movies that should be of no interest or aimed at anyone other than a white audience right?

  31. grester86 says:

    At a certain point if she keeps bringing this stuff up she’s gonna get a rep like Spike Lee or Singleton and it will hurt her career.

  32. jewellsparks says:

    Can’t we just be happy for people?? Everyone has a struggle, just respect it and have a heart!!!

  33. Donna says:

    Soooo tired of hearing and reading all the whining. Get to work and make your mark, black, white or other…

  34. PETER says:

    So, Ava, keep making movies and make them good. Keep working long and hard. And take good care of yourself. And God bless you.

  35. Tired says:

    Dear Ava

    Just for the record I have been exploited to benefit Black millionaire (producers) who promised me budgets in 2014 they have Black agents (male) and I made a project that I brought to Black agents at WMA to request that a Black director join me in the project. I was ripped off publicly humiliated, and abused and exploited. All because I was a White writer who wanted to work with everyone and include everyone. This involved Black males and females. I think its time Black males and females stopped complaining about lack of inclusion and started looking at the way they are treating other people who treat them with nothing but respect. Oh and this exploitation happened more than once and only stopped as I emailed companies, WMA and the unions to complain about human rights abuse.

    • Lisa says:

      Are you really expecting Ava to be responsible for what one production company did to you? That the oppression felt by millions and millions of black people in the entertainment business over the course of 80+ years is negated because you made some bad deals with people with dark skin? Is that really what you’re saying???

    • xpandurmind59 says:

      And I am just a movie enthusiast. From what I saw in the previews this wasn’t a movie I was inclined to see. I was not impressed with the acting. In fact, I didn’t see this as good acting and I didn’t think the script was original. This was the same with those made for TV movies (i.e. TLC, Whitney Houston ).I’m sorry, I think all of the hoopla about Oscar nods and diversity was uncalled for. I don’t believe in categorizing in this way. Further, because Oprah is affiliated with a movie or any other venture doesn’t make it any better than any other movie or venture. Acting, or the art of acting defies boundaries – Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson, Meryl Streep, Halle Berry and Cate Blanchett prove this. This is the basis for how I determine which movies I’ll see. I don’t believe in black vs. White politics. This is supposed to be a new day. Just an opinion.

    • Tired says:

      And I am a White female writer and director who is new in the directing arena who was open to working with anyone with talent and incidentally most of the people I have approached their careers have benefitted from me in the past so it would be nice of them to give back for a change and join in a project I have asked them to board. Instead of complaining about racial injustice when not so long ago WMA agency orchestrated several racial injustices against a White writer who they had been making money out of for years.

      • Lisa says:

        Oh so instead of fighting for equality then they should all just get on board your project? Ok.

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