via Watch: Ava DuVernay’s Filmmaker Keynote Address At 2013 Film Independent Forum | Shadow and Act.
I haven’t seen any of Ava DuVernay’s work yet, but I loved this keynote address and think it’s useful for anyone who is a media creator/artist. (She’s also directing an upcoming episode of Scandal, episode 308, so I’ll get to see a bit of her style then.)
All of the things that we try to do while trying to move forward in the industry is time not working on your screenplay [insert what your art is & what you’re supposed to be doing to work on it]. All the time you’re focusing– trying to grab– ‘I need this, I need this, I don’t have this–‘, you’re being desperate, you’re not doing. All that stuff is not active, it’s not moving you forward. All of the so called ‘action’ is hinging on someone doing something for you. Does that make sense? […]
The only thing that moves you forward is your work. […]
If you channel your desperation towards things you have, it’s passion. If you channel it towards things you don’t have, it’s desperation. It’s stagnation. […]
My whole thing, what I want is to be making films as a senior citizen. When I look at senior citizens making films, they’re only white guys. There’s no black, female Woody Allen. Or Mike Nichols. Like Clint Eastwood? Just imagine a bad ass black woman, walking like Clint, ‘I don’t care! I’m gonna say whatever I wanna say!” You’re old as hell, you’ve made a gang of films, say what you wanna say! I wanna be her. Old and making films. American women making films, black women making films into old age, actively and consistently. I wanna be Werner Herzog, I have so many films, I don’t know their names. I wanna be that. […] I just want consistency and longevity.
Watch the whole thing, you may get a nugget of something.
“Last I read the last African-American/ Black sitcom that aired on a major TV network in the U.S was 6 years ago. 6 years.”
“Black sitcoms were, in many respects, a TV sub-genre that presented to viewers love, respect and fun. And through these sitcom shows, they demonstrated that it was possible to come from and be from an minority group- and STILL be successful and happy without resorting to derogatory stereotypes and buffoonery that elicits the very stereotypes Black people have fought and challenged throughout the years. And of which they continue to do so to this day.”
Check out this post from a UK citizen’s perspective on black television in America. Even from abroad, they recognize that there is a severe lack of representation of black people on American television, especially the major networks. 6 years is a long time. And that seems to go for dramas too. Not too many dramas on network TV starring black people (and this is me including them as the lead, not as a token but as a focus. Won’t even bother trying to find a drama where there are more than one.) and right now we only have Kerry Washington on Scandal. I just saw an ad for NBC’s Thursday night line up–no black people to be seen. =(
The Black Sitcom: A Representation We Can Be Proud Of
I knew I wasn’t the only one with these thoughts on what the black sitcom is missing today. I just need myself and more people to help networks see that shows like this are worth greenlighting. And audiences to actually watch them.
(And the Nielson ratings system to die or be seriously upgraded because people like me (basically non-middle of the country who doesn’t watch CBS) don’t get our voices heard so shows we want to watch don’t get the “ratings” they need to survive. That’s a rant for another post.)