Ava DuVernay Advice on Hollywood: ‘Follow the White Guys, They’ve Got This Thing Wired’

Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay is never short on advice to Hollywood hopefuls, and during the 2015 BlogHer annual conference in New York City on Friday, the Selma director was blunt about how to get ahead in Hollywood.

“You gotta follow the white guys. Truly. They’ve got this thing wired,” DuVernay advised. “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 they can apply. It’s a good one for the ladies.”


DuVernay continued, telling attendees that as women, they need to stop asking permission and go after what they want.

“Women have been trained in our culture and society to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want. 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,” DuVernay stated.

DuVernay also opened up about rumors circulating that she was directing Marvel’s Black Panther film, which she debunked during July’s Essence Festival.

“It was really an enlightened day in terms of the quality of journalism. 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?’


“At one point, the answer was yes, because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way, in a certain way: excitement, action, fun, all those things, and yet still be focused on a black man as a hero—that would be pretty revolutionary,” she continued. “These Marvel films go everywhere, from Shanghai to Uganda, and nothing that I probably will make will reach that many people, so I found value in that. That’s how the conversations continued, because that’s what I was interested in. But everyone’s interested in different things.

“What my name is on means something to me—these are my children,” she said of her body of work. “This is my art. This is what will live on after I’m gone. 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.”


DuVernay definitely will have her hands full during the upcoming TV season. She has her OWN series, Queen Sugar, and her CBS civil rights crime-drama pilot, For Justice, both airing in the fall.

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