In January, Ava DuVernay shared in an interview with ‘Reel Black‘ that she was going to hire all female directors for her upcoming 13-episode series on OWN, ‘Queen Sugar.’

“We are hiring an all women directorial team.  A lot of women that we know from the black independent space, that I won’t announce yet, but it’s an exciting time to invite women into the show and really try to tell the story of this family of really strong women who do an amazing thing in St. Josephine, Louisiana….and then I go off to make my next film which I haven’t announced yet so I’m really excited about it.” – Ava Duvernay

There are countless woman of color who are talented directors, producers, editors, etc. working in the entertainment industry; however their near-absence behind the scenes hints at much deeper institutional problems in the television and film industry.  It is evident that the industry has a long way to go in terms of diversity and inclusion, but this is not stopping DuVernay from leading the way to make sure that Hollywood reflects the world that we live in.

Earlier this week, DuVernay stated via social media that “there are wonderful talented folks of color across all our ‘Queen Sugar’ departments. How? We seek + find + hire,” and yesterday, she shared with her fans on Twitter that pioneer Director Neema Barnette will be the Producing Director on her new series ‘Queen Sugar.’

This is amazing news!  Barnette is celebrated for making history as the first African American Woman to direct a major network TV sitcom (for an episode of ‘What’s Happenin Now,’) and is the first African American woman to receive a major studio deal (via Columbia Pictures, which is now a part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment).  As the recipient of an Emmy, an NAACP Image Award, the Women in Radio & TV Award, the Lilly Award, the Peabody Award, and more, Barnette is one of the leaders in our industry, and has demonstrated through her work that anything is possible when you have passion, vision, persistence, and a fierce work ethic.

“There aren’t enough women directing in our business. Even though the statistics are low, we still have to keep moving them up. It is not true that women can’t fulfill their dreams of becoming filmmakers, and share their voices cinematically.” – Neema Barnette

Over the years, Barnette has engaged audiences with politically and socially compelling content that defies the stereotypes of how African Americans have been depicted in film and television.  Over the past few decades, she has accumulated an immense body of episodic work that ranges from classics such as ‘The Cosby Show’ and ‘A Different World’ to the current ground breaking series ‘Being Mary Jane,’ and has directed classic films such as ‘Civil Brand’ and ‘Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day.’

Barnette owns her own production company, Hope Entertainment, and has served as a professor at USC, UCLA, and is currently a professor at AFI.  She recently started a web series with her husband called ‘Black History Mini Docs’ which are 90 second docs about black history. You can support this project and share it with everyone that you know by visiting: Black History Mini Docs

DuVernay is bringing ‘Queen Sugar’ to life alongside Oprah and her team of female directors, and we couldn’t be more excited for what’s in store!

[bctt tweet=”“#inclusion #ItsaChoice.” – Ava DuVernay” username=”HBR_Media”]



About The Author

Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime!

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