×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Queen & Slim’ Director Melina Matsoukas Dedicates Elle Award to Black Women Killed by Police

Elle continued its tradition on Monday night of honoring some of Hollywood’s most creative, inspiring and powerful women at the magazine’s annual Women in Hollywood dinner.

Hosted by Issa Rae, the evening at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills started with Reese Witherspoon getting teary-eyed while presenting the first award to her “A Wrinkle in Time” co-star Mindy Kaling. “We take our sense of injustice, of not belonging, and use it as fuel,” Kaling said. “In the immortal words of the prophet Rihanna, we ‘work, work, work, work.’ And we make our own opportunities and we make opportunities for others. We don’t wait for others to decide if we are good enough. If I was still waiting for others to decide if I was good enough, I would be teaching an improv class in North Hollywood. We are good enough right now.”

“There may be gatekeepers, but guess what,” she continued. “We are gatecrashers. The power belongs to those who reach out and take it.”

Nicole Kidman recalled recently asking her 11-year-old daughter Sunday Rose what she wanted to be when she grew up. “She said, ‘I want to be a director and I am pretty sure I can make that happen,’” said the Oscar winner, who was introduced by her “Bombshell” co-stars Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie. “And I went, ‘Wow.’ That there is progress because for that little girl to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I can be a director,’ I would never have said that. I said I could be an actress, but I never said director. … The journey is never going to be easy, it’s never going to be easy for creative people because we’re always going to be trying to carve our own paths, but I know that this journey will be easier because of a lot of the women in this room, because of the trails that you blazed, the stories that you’ve told and the examples that you’ve set.”

The evening’s other honorees included Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Dolly Parton and “Queen & Slim” director Melina Matsoukas, along with the film’s writer Lena Waithe and star Jodie Turner-Smith.

Matsoukas delivered a sobering and powerful speech, dedicating her award to black women, including Atatiana Jefferson and Sandra Bland, who have been killed by police.

“I was up late last night trying to write my speech, trying to show my appreciation for the opportunities and the love and support I’ve been given,” she said. “Trying to use my breath and my voice to create change and inspire on this stage today, but all I could think of were those whose breath was taken from us. All I could think of were my sisters who are not here, who could no longer speak, love or thrive solely because of their existence as black woman.”

She continued by saying that she wanted to “honor all the black and brown bodies whose lives were taken by law enforcement, who could have easily been me or Lena or Jodie or Indya [Moore, who presented the ‘Queen & Slim’ team with their awards]. To shed light on this epidemic as Lena Waithe appropriately calls it, ‘to give these lives justice and carry their legacies’ because that is the reason we create art, to create change. We create art to create change, to illuminate and to disrupt.”

In the final remarks of the program, Waithe said, “We must tell our stories and not just to educate white audiences, but to speak directly to those who have been ignored, to those who have been silenced, to those who have been taken far too soon. When the hunter tells the story, the lion will always be conquered.”

The Emmy winner said “Queen & Slim” is a story about legacy, “and I already know what I want mine to be — I want a legacy of love. I want a legacy of truth-telling. I want a legacy of fearlessness.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 14: ELLE Editor-in-Chief Nina Garcia (4th from L) poses with honorees (from L) Natalie Portman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Melina Matsoukas, Mindy Kaling, Zendaya, Lena Waithe, and Scarlett Johansson during ELLE's 26th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration Presented By Ralph Lauren And Lexus at The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles on October 14, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for ELLE)
CREDIT: Getty Images for ELLE

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Alexander Skarsgard in the front rowGiorgio

    Film News Roundup: Alexander Skarsgard Joins 'Passing' With Tessa Thompson

    In today’s film news roundup, Taryn Manning, Shane West and Alexander Skarsgård have new roles, and Warner Bros. unveils a modernized logo. CASTINGS Alexander Skarsgård has signed on to join Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga and André Holland in “Passing.” The film marks Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut and is based on a screenplay that Hall adapted [...]

  • Spike Lee

    Spike Lee to Direct Hip-Hop Love Story 'Prince of Cats'

    Spike Lee will direct a big-screen version of the hip-hop love story “Prince of Cats,” based on Ron Wimberly’s graphic novel. Legendary has been developing the project with Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions. Lee, who won the Academy Award for adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman,” will also re-write the “Prince of Cats” script with [...]

  • DOLEMITE IS MY NAME!, 2019, DOL_Unit_06284.RAF

    'Dolemite Is My Name' Writer Larry Karaszewski Recalls 10-Year Journey to Make Rudy Ray Moore Biopic

    “Harriet” writer-director Kasi Lemmons was in a reflective mood at Tuesday night’s “Behind the Scene” event at the Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood, sponsored by the Writers Guild of America West. The biopic, starring Cynthia Erivo as slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, has been receiving buzz since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s Lemmons’ [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Abrams Artists Agency Signs Writers Guild Deal

    In a major triumph for the Writers Guild of America, the Abrams Artists Agency has signed the WGA’s Code of Conduct, allowing the agency to return to representing WGA members again. Chairman Adam Bold made the announcement Wednesday, saying that the agency wants to put its clients back to work. He also noted WGA West [...]

  • Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis

    Holocaust Experts Debate 'Jojo Rabbit' at Museum of Tolerance Screening

    With its comedic, cartoonish portrayal of Nazis, Taika Waititi’s satirical Hitler youth tale “Jojo Rabbit” has polarized critics and audiences alike. And that division continued to be stirred at Tuesday night’s screening of the film at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, where Liebe Geft, director of the museum, moderated a heated panel discussion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content