Culture Feature

6 Major Takeaways from Ava DuVernay's Vanity Fair Interview with Angela Davis

As part of Vanity Fair's September issue, Ava DuVernay and Angela Davis discussed changing the world.

Ava DuVernay and Angela Davis are two of the most influential voices of our current moment.

Today, a transcript of a conversation between them was released, and it's as moving and mobilizing as you might expect.

The conversation will be published in the September issue of Vanity Fair, as part of a special issue entitled The Great Fire. The issue features Breonna Taylor on the cover and was guest-edited by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who also wrote the cover story, an interview with Breonna Taylor's mother.

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Captain Marvel's Nia DaCosta and 9 Other Black Female Directors You Should Know

In a boundary-breaking move, Nia DaCosta will direct "Captain Marvel 2."

Nia DaCosta

Nia DaCosta is now officially the first Black woman to direct a Marvel Film.

Captain Marvel 2 will star Brie Larsen and will be directed by DeCosta, who also directed the upcoming horror film Candyman.

Born in Brooklyn, DaCosta was inspired to make films after watching Apocalypse Now. In 2015, her breakout feature, Little Woods, was chosen for production by Sundance's Screenwriters and Directors Lab. At the time Little Woods was released in 2018, DaCosta said, "I'm most concerned with my films being active and having women in my films who are active." Now she'll be helming an epic, highly-anticipated superhero film.

Black female directors continue to break boundaries in the industry, though this development has been a long time coming and many are under-recognized. But if you're looking to break out of your Scorsese-Spielberg-white-male canon rut, or just looking to experience some incredible films from incredible talent, here are nine additional Black femme movie directors you should know.

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Stephen King's Tweets: Why We Need Fewer White Men Voting for the Oscars

The king of horror doesn't understand his own implicit biases.

Stephen King

Today, Stephen King—one of the most beloved and prolific authors of all time—joined the ranks of celebrities who have made an ass of themselves on Twitter.

King is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body of people who vote to determine the outcome of the Oscars. Apparently, adding his two cents to the conversation surrounding the very white 2020 Oscar nominations, King began tweeting:

And then, more than two hours later, King added a seemingly contradictory sentiment:

Many people on Twitter took issue with King's tweets, responding with accusations of white privilege, among other things.

King is a historically progressive voice on the Internet, often tweeting critiques of Trump and other conservative leaders; he is also a noted philanthropist and activist for a variety of progressive causes. But, given the nature of racism in America, Twitter users who critiqued his tweets are right in their perception that he was being ignorant, and it shouldn't come as a surprise.

First, to say that the issue of diversity "did not come up" in his voting process is essentially to claim color-blindness, something that has been proven over and over again to be a way to allow subconscious bias to continue to exist unchecked. As The Atlantic puts it, "They [sociologists] argue that as the mechanisms that reproduce racial inequality have become more covert and obscure than they were during the era of open, legal segregation, the language of explicit racism has given way to a discourse of colorblindness. But they fear that the refusal to take public note of race actually allows people to ignore manifestations of persistent discrimination." Essentially, just because King did not openly discriminate against films made by and starring people of color, that does not mean that his choices were unaffected by racial biases.

He then goes on to say, "I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong." While this is a common argument against practices like affirmative action, it is also deeply flawed. This kind of egalitarianism would be admirable in a world in which art made by POC and white people existed on an equal playing field, but thanks to centuries of systemic racism and oppression, it does not. We are culturally programmed to see white art as the only legitimate kind of art, particularly in the case of films, because, until relatively recently, filmmaking was a particularly inaccessible medium for POC.

Of course, King ultimately back pedaled (or clarified his point, depending on your perspective), stating, "The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts." This tweet suggests that what King was trying to say was that as long as POC and other marginalized groups have the opportunity to make art and therefore be in the running for awards, then they should be judged by the same criteria applied to white art. Unfortunately, this is still an optimistic and privileged point of view. The fact of the matter is, while explicit racism is becoming less and less acceptable in modern America, "aversive racism" still affects as many as two-thirds to three-quarters of white Americans. John Dovidio, a professor of psychology at Yale, explains "aversive racism" as: "Instead of feelings of hatred, it's more like feelings of avoidance and discomfort. That's where the name aversive racism comes from."

John Cho and Issa Rae John Cho and Issa Rae announced the 2020 Oscar's nominations—which are primarily white.

Considering the fact that as recently as 2012, Oscar voters were 94% Caucasian and 77% male, it's safe to say that there is a lot of aversive racism and sexism at play in Oscar voting. The Academy has supposedly attempted to diversify since then, and they now have 7,902 voting members, a group that is supposedly made up of more women and POC than in previous years. But still, the Academy remains predominantly white and male; and as long as that remains true, it's unlikely we'll see much of an uptick in the diversity of Oscar nominees. Essentially, acknowledging your implicit bias as a white person is very important, but there is only so much you can do to overcome it because most of the time, you're certain you're being completely fair.

While this kind of bias confrontation is important work, as Dovidio puts it, aversive racism "...usually happens when you can justify a response on the basis of some factor other than race. So, there may be like two people that you are interviewing – one white and one black – and you shift your criteria for the job in a way that actually favors the white person without actually directly discriminating against it. So the problem is every time we look at our behavior and monitor our behavior, we behave in an egalitarian way. And it's only when we're not paying attention that we discriminate."

All of this being said, one has to ask: Should King have voted for films made by POC just for the sake of diversity, even if he didn't think those films deserved his vote? Not necessarily. But what he should have done, and what all white people should do on a daily basis when put in the position to judge and critique art made by and for POC, is interrogate our opinions and our biases.

Here are a few of the questions we need to ask ourselves in those kinds of situations:

  • Is it possible that the subconscious racism I inevitably possess is skewing my view of this piece of art?
  • How can I be comfortable (or at least exist in a space of productive discomfort) with the fact that this piece of art is not for or about me?
  • Can I recognize that, as a white person, I see myself in the majority of mainstream art and media, but art that does not reflect me is no less impactful?
  • Do I not like this piece of art because of objective flaws, or because it is unfamiliar and therefore makes me uncomfortable?

So maybe King should have voted for POC movies for the sake of diversity. Maybe he should have acknowledged that, as a white man, he was inevitably going to gravitate towards movies made for and about white men and reacted by casting his votes for films he knew were important to and celebrated by POC. Does this seem like a completely fair way to determine the recipient of an award? No, but neither is being a POC in America.

At the end of the day, the only way to actually address the inequality in Hollywood is to make room for POC to take up space. In this case, that looks like diversifying the Academy until it truly represents the reality of our diverse, multicultural country. And that starts when white men (and white women) admit their implicit biases, confront them, and ultimately move out of the way to give POC and women a chance to make their opinions heard.


The Golden Globes Still Pretend Female Directors Don't Exist

The Best Director nominations for the 77th Golden Globes completely omit women, but who's surprised?

Today, the nominations for the 77th Annual Golden Globes were unveiled.

It was a good year for Netflix productions, Scorcese, and Tarantino, but history has repeated itself in that women are, yet again, entirely absent from the Best Director category and immensely underrepresented throughout.

The Best Director nominees are Bong Joon-ho for Parasite, Sam Mendes for 1917, Todd Phillips for Joker, Martin Scorsese for The Irishman, and Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. (Other categories, including Best Motion Picture and Best Screenplay, were significantly male-leaning.) But as always, it's not like women haven't flashed their directing chops this year. Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Olivia Wilde (Booksmart), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), and Alma Har'el (Honey Boy) are all deserving of nominations at the very least—hey, that's enough to fill the entire category! Nominate them all!

Though the Golden Globes' glaring ignorance towards women hurts, it sadly doesn't come as a shock. Barbra Streisand is the sole woman to ever win Best Director in over seven decades of the Golden Globes; only four others have been nominated. Looks like Natalie Portman's viral call-out while presenting at the 2018 Golden Globes will remain evergreen.

Natalie Portman Notes the All-Male Director Nominees

Natalie Portman Notes the All-Male Director Nominees

Awards ceremony celebrating the best in TV and film; Seth Meyers hosts; Oprah Winfrey receives the 2018 Cecil B. de Mille Award.

Check out the very manly nominees below.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

"The Irishman" (Netflix)

"Marriage Story" (Netflix)

"1917" (Universal)

"Joker" (Warner Bros.)

"The Two Popes" (Netflix)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Cynthia Erivo ("Harriet")

Scarlett Johansson ("Marriage Story")

Saoirse Ronan ("Little Women")

Charlize Theron ("Bombshell")

Renée Zellweger ("Judy")

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Christian Bale ("Ford v Ferrari")

Antonio Banderas ("Pain and Glory")

Adam Driver ("Marriage Story")

Joaquin Phoenix ("Joker")

Jonathan Pryce ("The Two Popes")

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

"Dolemite Is My Name" (Netflix)

"Jojo Rabbit" (Fox Searchlight)

"Knives Out" (Lionsgate)

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" (Sony)

"Rocketman" (Paramount)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Ana de Armas ("Knives Out")

Awkwafina ("The Farewell")

Cate Blanchett ("Where'd You Go, Bernadette")

Beanie Feldstein ("Booksmart")

Emma Thompson ("Late Night")

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Daniel Craig ("Knives Out")

Roman Griffin Davis ("Jojo Rabbit")

Leonardo DiCaprio ("Once Upon a Time in Hollywood")

Taron Egerton ("Rocketman")

Eddie Murphy ("Dolemite Is My Name")

Best Motion Picture – Animated

"Frozen 2" (Disney)

"How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" (Universal)

"The Lion King" (Disney)

"Missing Link" (United Artists Releasing)

"Toy Story 4" (Disney)

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

"The Farewell" (A24)

"Les Misérables" (Amazon)

"Pain and Glory" (Sony Pictures Classics)

"Parasite" (Neon)

"Portrait of a Lady on Fire" (Neon)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

Kathy Bates ("Richard Jewell")

Annette Bening ("The Report")

Laura Dern ("Marriage Story")

Jennifer Lopez ("Hustlers")

Margot Robbie ("Bombshell")

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

Tom Hanks ("A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood")

Anthony Hopkins ("The Two Popes")

Al Pacino ("The Irishman")

Joe Pesci ("The Irishman")

Brad Pitt ("Once Upon a Time in Hollywood")

Best Director – Motion Picture

Bong Joon-ho ("Parasite")

Sam Mendes ("1917")

Todd Phillips ("Joker")

Martin Scorsese ("The Irishman")

Quentin Tarantino ("Once Upon a Time in Hollywood")

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Noah Baumbach ("Marriage Story")

Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won ("Parasite")

Anthony McCarten ("The Two Popes")

Quentin Tarantino ("Once Upon a Time in Hollywood")

Steven Zaillian ("The Irishman")

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Alexandre Desplat ("Little Women")

Hildur Guðnadóttir ("Joker")

Randy Newman ("Marriage Story")

Thomas Newman ("1917")

Daniel Pemberton ("Motherless Brooklyn")

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

"Beautiful Ghosts" ("Cats")

"I'm Gonna Love Me Again" ("Rocketman")

"Into the Unknown" ("Frozen 2")

"Spirit" ("The Lion King")

"Stand Up" ("Harriet")

Best Television Series – Drama

"Big Little Lies" (HBO)

"The Crown" (Netflix)

"Killing Eve" (BBC America)

"The Morning Show" (Apple TV Plus)

"Succession" (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

Jennifer Aniston ("The Morning Show")

Olivia Colman ("The Crown")

Jodie Comer ("Killing Eve")

Nicole Kidman ("Big Little Lies")

Reese Witherspoon ("The Morning Show")

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Brian Cox ("Succession")

Kit Harington ("Game of Thrones")

Rami Malek ("Mr. Robot")

Tobias Menzies ("The Crown")

Billy Porter ("Pose")

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

"Barry" (HBO)

"Fleabag" (Amazon)

"The Kominsky Method" (Netflix)

"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Amazon)

"The Politician" (Netflix)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Christina Applegate ("Dead to Me")

Rachel Brosnahan ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel")

Kirsten Dunst ("On Becoming a God in Central Florida")

Natasha Lyonne ("Russian Doll")

Phoebe Waller-Bridge ("Fleabag")

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Michael Douglas ("The Kominsky Method")

Bill Hader ("Barry")

Ben Platt ("The Politician")

Paul Rudd ("Living with Yourself")

Ramy Youssef ("Ramy")

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

"Catch-22″ (Hulu)

"Chernobyl" (HBO)

"Fosse/Verdon" (FX)

The Loudest Voice (Showtime)

"Unbelievable" (Netflix)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Kaitlyn Dever ("Unbelievable")

Joey King ("The Act")

Helen Mirren ("Catherine the Great")

Merritt Wever ("Unbelievable")

Michelle Williams ("Fosse/Verdon")

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Christopher Abbott ("Catch-22")

Sacha Baron Cohen ("The Spy")

Russell Crowe ("The Loudest Voice")

Jared Harris ("Chernobyl")

Sam Rockwell ("Fosse/Verdon")

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Patricia Arquette ("The Act")

Helena Bonham Carter ("The Crown")

Toni Collette ("Unbelievable")

Meryl Streep ("Big Little Lies")

Emily Watson ("Chernobyl")

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Alan Arkin ("The Kominsky Method")

Kieran Culkin ("Succession")

Andrew Scott ("Fleabag")

Stellan Skarsgård ("Chernobyl")

Henry Winkler ("Barry")


How to prepare for the Oscars like a star

4 stars of the Academy Awards share their prep for the big night on Instagram.

Tonight is possibly the biggest night in Hollywood. The actors, producers, directors and moving parts behind what the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences identified as the best pictures of 2016 will gather at the Dolby Theatre to see who wins big. Among the biggest contenders of the night are La La Land, with fourteen nominations, and Arrival and Moonlight, both tying, and vying for eight awards tonight.

While most people think the most thrilling portion of the night starts tonight once Jimmy Kimmel puts on his hosting bow tie, and others find the greatest joy in the red carpet fashion, the hopeful recipients take solace in those rare quiet moments before tonight's nonstop action.

Take a look at how some of the stars are preparing for tonight and let us know how you are getting ready for tonight.

Taraji P. Henson does a little tub relaxing

Woooooosaaaaaaahhhhhh the calm before the CraCra!!! 😂😩😬 #oscars2017 💋💋💋

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Jimmy Kimmel prepares with his daughter

👊 #Oscars

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