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Hollywood, Stop Congratulating Ava DuVernay for Directing ‘Harriet’ and ‘Queen & Slim’

The director reveals she has been congratulated nearly a dozen times for films directed by other black women filmmakers.

Ava DuVernay arrives at the 2019 LACMA Art and Film Gala at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in Los Angeles2019 LACMA Art and Film Gala, Los Angeles, USA - 02 Nov 2019

Ava DuVernay

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Ava DuVernay is the director of films such as “Selma,” “13th,” and “A Wrinkle in Time,” and she’s had an amazing 2019 thanks to her hugely successful four-part Netflix limited series “When They See Us.” The Central Park Five drama earned 11 Primetime Emmy nominations, including a win for leading actor Jharrel Jerome, and it’s expected to be a strong contender at the upcoming Golden Globes and SAG Awards. Indeed, DuVernay is having a remarkable year professionally, but it has nothing to do with “Harriet” or “Queen & Slim.” We repeat, it has nothing to do with “Harriet” or “Queen & Slim.”

DuVernay revealed on social media that she has “now been congratulated by non-black folks in Hollywood 11 different times about my direction” of ‘Harriet’ and ‘Queen & Slim.'” The filmmaker added, “When I share that I didn’t direct those films, that they are made by black women directors who are not me? Nervous chuckles. Apologies. This place…”

For anyone who is having difficulty on this topic, please note that “Harriet” is directed by Kasi Lemmons, the breakout director of 1997’s “Eve’s Bayou” whose credits also include “Talk to Me” (2007) and “Black Nativity” (2013). Lemmons’ Harriet Tubman biopic has grossed over $36 million at the U.S. box office for Focus Features, making it one of the year’s highest grossing indie releases.

“Queen & Slim” is the feature directorial debut of breakout filmmaker Melina Matsoukas. Prior to helming the film, Matsoukas made a name for herself in the music video world by directing Beyonce’s “Formation” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love” videos, among many others.

DuVernay’s post prompted a response from “The Farewell” director Lulu Wang, who shared a similar experience she’s facing this year. “If I could count the number of times someone’s held up a ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ poster for me to sign,” the director wrote. “I mean, Jon M. Chu is beautiful and all, but I’m quite certain we look nothing alike.”

“Harriet” is playing in theaters nationwide. Universal is opening “Queen & Slim” in theaters November 27. Once again, neither film is directed by or has anything to do with DuVernay. Get it in your heads, Hollywood.

Ava DuVernay

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