The 2015 Blogher Conference, an annual meeting of blogger and media professional minds, hosted talent from around the country this weekend in New York City to help women grow their brands and reach. One leading Hollywood woman, Ava DuVernay, knows all about getting ahead, not letting her minority status stop her.
DuVernay shared her professional advice with the ladies: “You gotta follow the white guys. Truly. They’ve got this thing wired,” she stated in her keynote. “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.”
The award-winning director also touched on the history Black women have faced in America and how we must change. “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.”
DuVernay opened up her portal of work with the likes of Queen Sugar on the Oprah Winfrey Network, For Justice a civil rights crime drama for CBS, and taking a leap into virtual reality.
“It will be the future of storytelling,” DuVernay told Melissa Silverstein, editor of Women and Hollywood, who moderated the conversation. “It’s really exciting and scary, and I want to know how to do it. … I shoot my first one just to experiment with the tools in August.”
As DuVernay tries new realms of story-telling she reminded her audience to diversify their portfolios. “I’ve been in a lot of rooms lately, and all these fancy people who are really killing it, no one has all her eggs in one basket,” she added.
One basket that has drawn a lot of interest lately is DuVernay’s involvement with Marvel’s Black Panther movie. Or, rather, the fact that she’s not going to be involved.
“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.”
Ultimately, she emphasized the importance of being true to herself and her vision. It is that focus and decisiveness that has gotten DuVernay so far and we’re soaking up her wisdom