And although women continue to provide excellent examples of female-made cinema, the amount of female directors given the chance to get this far are horrendously low. In fact, less than 4% of major studio films being released this year are directed by women, the lowest percentage of female-helmed movies in at least half a decade. And women accounted for just 11% of directors working on the top 250 films of 2017.
According to director, producer and writer, Ava DuVernay, there’s one little word that would seriously help improve these odds. Can you guess it? We’ll give you a clue. It starts with Y and ends with S, and essentially would result in a heck of a lot more women being given a chance to show what they can do.
In a moving Twitter thread, DuVernay explained that while creating three seasons of the show Queen Sugar, she said “yes” to 25 female directors who have now continued to work on shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and 13 Reasons Why.
Queen Sugar follows the life of three siblings, who move to Louisiana to claim an inheritance from their recently departed father – an 800-acre sugarcane farm. DuVernay created and executive produced the show alongside Oprah Winfrey, and the pair made a conscious effort to give opportunities to women while doing so.
Alongside an image of all 25 women, DuVernay urged TV and film bosses to recruit more women, writing: “Here are the 25 women directors who helmed #QUEENSUGAR over our three seasons. For 21 of them, it was their first episode of television. They’ve since gone on to direct for many shows. They just needed a first YES. To my fellow EPs, as you staff up for fall, consider saying YES.”
DuVernay continued to list more shows that her colleagues had gone on to be a part of, citing “American Crime. Underground. Scandal. Grey’s Anatomy. Power. Ozark. Transparent. 13 Reasons Why” and many, many more.
Finishing her thread on a powerful note, DuVernay posted a GIF showing actor Rutina Wesley holding her hand up to the glass of a prison cell, and the words “I’ll fight with you”.
The progression of this issue is something that we vehemently support, from our must-see list of female directors to reportingon those in the industry that speak out against the male dominated nature of directing. So, we’ve decided to take DuVernay’s lead and hoist the 25 women she has supported on to our shoulders, taking a closer look at their achievements and who they are.
This is a great opportunity to familarise yourself with both emerging talent and directing heavy weights.
Starting with the woman herself, DuVernay is a pioneer in film-making, having been the first woman of colour to achieve several accolades. For her second feature film, Middle of Nowhere, she won the directing award in the US dramatic competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, becoming the first African-American woman to ever do so. In 2014, she also became the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her work on Selma.
Most recently, DuVernay directed A Wrinkle in Time, a Disney film centered around a female protagonist, boasting a cast that includes the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon. In doing so, she became the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million, and delivered a powerful message for future generations to our screens.
We do not follow the latest trends. We believe we, as a people, are trendsetters and that we possess a value that cannot be compromised. Our mantra is focused squarely on “ascension,” fundamentally attributed to the experiences and things in our community that elevate us all. We vow to represent our images and culture with honor and respect. We are you.
Welcome To the Evolution.