Ava DuVernay has been making headlines these days for declining to direct Black Panther, a film featuring a Black superhero, and during her keynote speech at the 2015 BlogHer Conference, the Selma director explained why she decided to turn down Marvel’s opportunity.
“It’d be three years of not doing other things that are important to me. So it was a question of, is this important enough for me to do?” she said. “At one point, the answer was yes because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way — in a certain way, excitement, action, fun, all those things — and yet still be focused on a Black man as a hero. That would be pretty revolutionary.”
In her advice to the audience of female bloggers, DuVernay urged them to not let their status as minorities or women hold them back. In fact, she said, look to “the white guys” and those who run this town to learn how to build success.
“You gotta follow the white guys,” DuVernay said. “Truly. They’ve got this thing wired. Too often, we live within their games, so why would you not study what works? Take away the bad stuff — because there’s a lot — and use the savvy interesting stuff and figure out how they can apply. It’s a good one for the ladies.”
It’s not enough to just study what works for others, she added, because women need to develop the courage to grab what they want instead of asking for permission.
“Women have been trained in our culture and society to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want,” she said. “We’ve been really indoctrinated with this culture of permission. I think it’s true for women, and I think it’s true for people of color. It’s historic, and it’s unfortunate and has somehow become part of our DNA. But that time has passed.”
What do you think about DuVernay’s advice to women in business?
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(Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation)