Ava DuVernay's Advice On Hollywood: "Follow The White Men"

When Marvel offered Ava DuVernay the opportunity to direct Black Panther, she waffled on whether she should take on the project. When she ultimately turned it down, many fans were confused and dismayed; so recently DuVernay decided to clear up the reasons behind her decision.

“For me, it was a process of trying to figure out, 'Are these people I want to go to bed with?' Because it’s really a marriage, and for this, it would be three years. 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?'"

The answer, of course, was that it was not important enough, in part because she wasn't convinced that she would be able to make the film without sacrificing too much of her own vision. "This is my art. This is what will live on after I’m gone," the Selma director explained. "So it’s important to me that that be true to who I was in this moment. And if there’s too much compromise, it really wasn’t going to be an Ava DuVernay film."

Being able to stick to their guns is not a luxury that women in Hollywood often have. As DuVernay also pointed out recently, it's not easy to navigate a man's world as a woman, especially as a minority. Her advice to all the industry hopefuls out there?

"You gotta follow the white guys. Truly. They’ve got this thing wired. Too often, we live within their games, so why would you not study what works?" she said during her speech at the 2015 BlogHer conference. "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.”

DuVernay also cautioned women to quit 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.”

As for what the inspiring filmmaker is working on next, we definitely hope it includes an advice book on how to achieve your goals while still staying true to yourself. She seems to be an expert in that field in addition to her chosen profession.
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