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Ava DuVernay Celebrates Minorities Behind the Camera at ‘Queen Sugar’ Premiere

Ava DuVernay made it clear that casting minorities in front of and behind the camera was a conscious effort on her part at the premiere of OWN’s newest family drama, “Queen Sugar.”

“We had a majority women and people of color writer’s room,” the creator-producer-director told the crowd after introducing her team. She then waved for her African-American female post-production supervisor to come onstage. “A lot of people do not know that there is this position, and they don’t know that a sister can do it.”

The applause continued as Duvernay introduced her all-female directing team, who she hand-picked to tell the story this season. “Some of these women have been trying to work in television, had doors closed to them, that’s the kind of industry we work in. You can make beautiful films that go to Berlin, Cannes, South By [Southwest], Sundance, and yet you can’t get an episode on television in Hollywood.”

“Bringing not just diversity, but inclusion of people who probably in many points would not have an opportunity to to go in and direct a series like this, that was the statement,” exec producer Oprah Winfrey asserted on the carpet. “I think everyone has a different view in telling stories, but you will see a connected lyricism and sensuality to this series that I think happened because all of the women involved.”

Longtime actor and series guest star Glynn Turman also shared with Variety that it was “refreshing” to see such a change in scenery behind the camera.

“It’s something I remember when I started in the business you did not see, and that was the battle cry: why don’t we see it, and how do we get to see it?” said Turman. “Surely, over the years that wall seems to have a chink in it and hopefully that chink will be wider and wider so more and more will flow through, but that will only happen if we continue with due diligence.”

Queen Sugar,” which adapts from the Natalie Baszile novel and tells the story of  estranged siblings who come together to to run an ailing sugarcane farm in Louisiana, premieres as a two-night event on Tuesday, September 6 and Wednesday, September 7 at 10 p.m. on OWN.

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