Pin It

‘Selma’ director says she watched white men for tips

Ava DuVernay noticed that white men ‘do whatever the hell they want’ and ‘say what they want’

When it comes to directing, women and people of colour are often underrated and are certainly not encouraged enough. However, it’s possible that women and non-white people also don’t have enough confidence in themselves to follow their dreams because, you know, society.

Ava DuVernay, who directed Selma, highlighted this problem in a talk at the BlogHer conference, when she said that she got to where she was by emulating the confidence displayed by white men in the industry. She said: "I wanted to [direct a film], but the voice in your head says you’re not qualified, or people will laugh, or you don’t have permission to do this. So I just started to watch white men, and I was like, ”They’re fantastic! They do whatever they hell they want!"

The self-confidence issues faced by many women and people of colour can’t be helped by the fact that the Oscars and other awards are so pale and male. DuVernay was overlooked at the Oscars for her critically-acclaimed film Selma, and plenty of other female directors were ignored by the Academy too. If DuVernay had got a Best Director nomination, she would have been the first black woman ever nominated in that category – she did however receive a Golden Globes nomination for Best Director.

DuVernay also spoke about the culture of asking permission and not feeling good enough, things she says is often felt by female and non-white creatives. “That’s how women have been trained in our society, to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want. But that time has passed.”

“Truly, [men have] 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 that can apply. It’s a good one for the ladies.”

Check out more great female film makers in our Female Firsts section.