The Oscar nominee credits Ava DuVernay for this change of thinking.
The topic of “diversity” is a popular one as of late. From #OscarsSoWhite to the lack of people of color and women working in Silicon Valley to how racially monolithic newsrooms are around the country, there have been many conversations on how to change the status quo.
But, in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, former talk show host and Oscar nominee Oprah Winfrey stresses that while representation is always a priority, she’s eliminated the word “diversity” from her vocabulary.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 17, 2016
“I used to use the word ‘diversity’ all the time,” said the former daytime talker who has a television network (OWN) named in her honor. “We want more diverse stories, more diverse characters … Now I really eliminated it from my vocabulary because I’ve learned from [Ava] that the word that most articulates what we’re looking for is what we want to be: Included.”
Winfrey added, “It’s to have a seat at the table where the decisions are being made.”
DuVernay, whose Queen Sugar television series debuts on OWN next month, added to Winfrey’s sentiments.
“We aren’t sitting around talking about diversity. Just like we aren’t sitting around talking about being black or being women. We’re just being that,” noted the director of Selma, which was co-produced by Winfrey.
And while DuVernay’s career is soaring with upcoming films such as A Wrinkle In Time, she’s also been very vocal about supporting other artists of color as they tell their own robust stories of the Black experience.
“I’m interested in seeing Issa Rae‘s work [on HBO’s Insecure], Donald Glover‘s work [on FX’s Atlanta], Justin Simien‘s upcoming piece [a series adaptation of his film, Dear White People, for Netflix], Cheo Coker’s Luke Cage [on Netflix],” she said.
“I’m interested in seeing artists whom I respect who are very focused on the Black Lives Matter moment, bringing that into storytelling in a way that really amplifies the beauty and the humanity of people of color, and does it without having to wave a big sign that says, “This is what we’re doing,” she concluded.
It’s clear that for DuVernay and Winfrey (who also produces Queen Sugar), inclusion is incredibly important, which can be seen as every episode is directed by a woman. According to Hollywood’s Black Renaissance that team includes Victoria Mahoney (Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor’s Remorse), Neema Barnette (Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day, Being Mary Jane ), Tanya Hamilton (The Night Catches Us), Kat Candler (Hellion), So Young Kim (Lovesong), Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned) and Sali Richardson-Whitefield (Eureka).
In July, DuVernay told People that her new show is being directed by all women because, “… it isn’t something that we see hardly enough.”
“If Game of Thrones can have all men for the last 3 seasons,” she added, “Queen Sugar can have all women and show what a fantastic show can be made from our hands and our minds.”