Oprah: ‘I’ve eliminated diversity from my vocabulary’
NEW YORK — Oprah Winfrey is done with “diversity.”
Winfrey sat down with The Hollywood Reporter along with filmmaker Ava DuVernay to discuss how important it is for more black men and women to be represented on screen. Which is why Winfrey brought DuVernay over to the network she founded, OWN, to create an upcoming new series, “Queen Sugar,” about African American siblings who inherit a sugarcane farm in modern-day Louisiana.
“I used to use the word ‘diversity’ all the time. ‘We want more diverse stories, more diverse characters …’ Now I really eliminated it from my vocabulary,” Winfrey said. “Because I’ve learned from [DuVernay] 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.”
“We aren’t sitting around talking about diversity,” DuVernay said. “Just like we aren’t sitting around talking about being black or being women. We’re just being that.”
DuVernay, 43, started out as a publicist and then made her mark at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 when she won Best Director for her film, “Middle of Nowhere.” She went on to direct “Selma,” for which she became the first black female director to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
“All lives can’t matter to folks who are not us if you don’t know us, if you don’t understand [us]. I don’t make anything as education for anyone; I make it as a love letter to the characters: These are black people; this is a black family. It’s a window into that,” she said. “The same way when I go see ‘A Separation,’ about an Iranian family, or when I go to see a Korean film, it is a window into that world, and I see them, and I start to understand and value them. They begin to matter to me.”
“Everybody gets caught up in the slogan and the hashtag and the protest,” Winfrey added. “What we’re trying to do is get you to feel it.”
DuVernay’s next project is already underway and she’s making history again. She’s set to direct Disney’s “A Wrinkle In Time,” which will make her the first woman of color to direct a $100 million live-action movie.