The director, who is widely celebrated for telling stories about Black lives and other people of color, recognized the men for their contributions to her projects.
DuVernay noted that Pitt served as an executive producer for her 2014 historical drama, “Selma,” and De Niro as an executive producer for her 2019 Netflix limited series “When They See Us.”
“These two,” she tweeted, adding: “Both used their muscle to help me get those stories told. A good thing.”
“Selma,” which tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights campaign that led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, scored an Oscar nomination for Best Picture among other accolades. The film’s co-producers included Oprah Winfrey, who portrayed Annie Lee Cooper in the movie. (Winfrey also served as an executive producer for “When They See Us.”)
“When They See Us” tells the stories of Antron McCray, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam ― five Black and Latino men who as teenagers were wrongly convicted of a brutal rape in New York City’s Central Park in 1989.
When asked on Twitter about Pitt’s and De Niro’s specific contributions, DuVernay replied, “executive producers do many things.”
She explained that Pitt’s production company, Plan B, brought her on to rewrite and direct “Selma.” DuVernay tapped De Niro’s company, TriBeCa Productions, to help her “navigate production issues in New York City for WHEN THEY SEE US,” she added.
“Both were lovely to me,” DuVernay said.
Some Twitter users replied to DuVernay’s tweet, noting that Pitt ― whose production company is also led by co-presidents Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner ― has supported other projects by Black filmmakers, like “12 Years a Slave,” “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
DuVernay has similarly been praised for supporting films from underrepresented voices.
Under the collective is Array Filmworks, a production company that’s behind works including “When They See Us”; DuVernay’s Emmy-winning documentary “13th”; and her upcoming series on Winfrey’s OWN, “Cherish the Day.”
In November, DuVernay announced that “Cherish the Day” has a production crew that’s over 50% women. She encouraged other show creators at the time to make that a “new normal.”
The series is set to premiere next month.