As the film industry continues to grapple with a glaring gender disparity when it comes to women in production, director Ava DuVernay has offered a suggestion on breaking the Hollywood mold.
During her keynote address at this year’s annual BlogHer conference in New York City on Saturday, the “Selma” director shared this advice to women and people of color looking to excel in Hollywood: “Follow the white guys.”
“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 the panel moderated by Women and Hollywood founder, Melissa Silverstein.
DuVernay assured audiences that women holding and aspiring to leadership roles should continue to forge their own paths and maintain their originality -- while picking up on those cues that lead to success rather than replicating the trajectories and behaviors of those in charge. “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,” she said.
The 42-year-old filmmaker went on to tell the crowd of female bloggers and media professionals how women and people of color have been accustomed to asking permission instead of pursuing the things they want.
"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.”
DuVernay's most recent comments follow her appearance on AOL’s MAKERS series, where she spoke on the new opportunities for women to break into the film industry.
“There are new ways to do things," she said during the episode. "New ways to shoot, new ways to monetize, new ways to distribute, new audiences to find, new ways to communicate with them that don’t require some old man telling you ‘you can do it.’ So now that’s the case, and we know it’s the case, we need to begin.”