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Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey on Changes to ‘Queen Sugar’ in Season 2

Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, and “Queen Sugar” cast members Kofi Siriboe and Dawn-Lyen Gardner held a short press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. It was part of a busy day that included a press junket and a Television Academy event to hype the hit drama’s second season.

Resuming a practice she began in season one of “Queen Sugar,” DuVernay opened by saying all the season two episodes will be helmed by female directors. All the directors had directed one film that had been in competition at a film festival, but, DuVernay said, “they could not get a job directing an episode of television.”

DuVernay also took special care to emphasize that all the show’s season one directors are now booked solid on other TV shows like “Greenleaf,” “Underground,” and the coveted job of directing TV pilots, where, as DuVernay stressed, “as the director on a TV pilot, you get to decide the world and how it looks in a TV series.” DuVernay was clear in her mission to effect change in Hollywood by hiring more women and people of all ethnicities and, “having casts and stories that reflect the world we live in, so audiences see people they know onscreen.” DuVernay pointed to Patty Jenkins’s strong directing job on “Wonder Woman.” She also name-dropped Ryan Murphy and Melissa Rosenberg as fellow producers making concerted efforts to hire more women to write and direct on their shows.

Commenting on changes in the show between seasons, DuVernay said, “In season 2, the confidence in the performances has grown.” Winfrey agreed and praised the show’s cast, “Everyone has landed. The love is in the details.” Though DuVernay was directing the feature film “A Wrinkle in Time,” she was still very much a part of “Queen Sugar.” She explained, “I approved scripts and casting. I got involved in the editing, and I got final edit on the episodes.”

Teasing what’s in store during season 2, Gardner revealed, “Charley Bordelon is in a spiritual crisis and doesn’t know it.” Winfrey smiled and said, “Get ready for Sister Vi (Tina Lifford); she’s a hot babe.”

Season 2 of “Queen Sugar” premieres over two nights on June 20 and 21 on OWN.

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