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

“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.  Despite the fact that Hollywood is thought to be a liberal environment welcoming creative differences, statistics have proven that a patriarchal culture continues to dominate this industry.  This past February, The Annenberg Report on Diversity examined 109 films that were released by studios in 2014, and of those films, 2 out of 109 were directed by black women, with DuVernay at the helm of Selma and Amma Asante directing Belle.

“Hollywood is a patriarchal structure that values men. Even in the independent film industry, you have to be able to convince someone, usually a man, to trust you with his money and that he will actually make it back.” – Ava DuVernay

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.  As DuVernay puts it, “there are wonderful talented folks of color across all our Queen Sugar departments. How? We seek + find + hire,” and bringing more truth to these words, brilliant filmmaker Victoria Mahoney has joined the all female directorial team of Queen Sugar.

Mahoney began her artistic career as an actress and has starred in everything from the classic series Seinfeld to the Blockbuster hit Legally Blonde, and also appeared in DuVernay’s short film Say Yes in 2013.  Mahoney made the transition from acting to writing/directing with her powerful directorial debut, Yelling to the Sky, a classic independent coming-of-age drama about family, racial identity and survival starring Zoë Kravitz and Academy Award nominee Gabourey Sidibe.  In 2010, she was named one of Filmmaker‘s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and received a Golden Bear nomination, the highest prize awarded for the best film at the Berlin International Film Festival.  In addition to Yelling to the Sky, Mahoney was at the helm of ASPiRE’s talk show Exhale, hosted by Angela Burt-Murray, Erin Jackson, Issa Rae, Malinda Williams and Rene Syler.  She also directed a short film titled Wrecked, and is currently in development with her second feature Chalk, which follows a person making peace with their past while finding murder suspects.  Mahoney is constantly engaging audiences with socially compelling content that defies the stereotypes of how African Americans have been depicted on screen, and we are looking forward to the magic that she will bring to Queen Sugar.

“My overriding intention as a filmmaker, is to tap into individual inquiries and reflect whatever is hidden. Inspiring an audience’s need for further inquiry into whatever stories, wishes, wants, hungers, desires, questions or aches presently propel them.  From my filmmaking, I’d love audiences to receive some measure of inspiration; to investigate the human condition.” – Victoria Mahoney

DuVernay is bringing Queen Sugar to life alongside Oprah, her team of female directors, and all inclusive crew members.  We couldn’t be more excited for what lies ahead as this amazing group of women continues to inspire all by breaking barriers, making history, and showing Hollywood how things can be done.

[bctt tweet=”“#Inclusion #ItsaChoice. How? We seek + find + hire” – 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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