The word “diversity” comes up a lot when talking about director Ava DuVernay and her projects.
Her first feature film was 2014’s Oscar-snubbed “Selma,” which chronicled Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights in a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.
Now, her next biggest project is another vehicle produced by Oprah Winfrey, “Queen Sugar,” a series that will premiere on Oprah’s network OWN on September 6 and September 7.
“Queen Sugar” follows the lives of a family of sugarcane farmers in modern Louisiana.
But DuVernay doesn’t like to use the word “diversity,” and she’s taught Oprah, who used to champion the word, to prefer another term instead.
“I will say that I stand corrected. I used to use the word “diversity” all the time. ‘We want more diverse stories, more diverse characters,'” Oprah told The Hollywood Reporter. “Now I really eliminated it from my vocabulary because I’ve learned from her that the word that most articulates what we’re looking for is what we want to be: included. It’s to have a seat at the table where the decisions are being made.”
DuVernay explained that they don’t sit around talking about being black or being women: “We’re just being that,” she told THR.
Oprah realised that the lesson of inclusion versus diversification was the meaning of a visit Sidney Poitier made to her school in South Africa.
“[Poitier] gave a gift of 550 movies to the girls. He thought if you watch these 550 movies, they will be your education for life,” Oprah recalled to THR. “He wrote to the girls that his dream for them was to be able to sit at the table of the future where the world’s decisions would be made. I realise now that what he was saying is to be included, to be valued as a person who has something to contribute.”
Read the full interview with Oprah and Ava DuVernay at The Hollywood Reporter.
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