Film director Ava DuVernay sat down with Van Lathan for The Red Pill podcast to discuss her hit new series #WhenTheySeeUs, which she says was made specifically for the Black community.
DuVernay’s latest masterpiece, “When They See Us,” is a four-part drama miniseries that details the horrific handling of five Black boys, well known as the #CentralParkFive, who were wrongly accused and convicted of a raping a white woman in New York’s Central Park back in 1989. It took between 4 and 14 years for each boy – now men – to be released from prison, only after the actual rapist confessed to the crime. DuVernay, who has made it her mission to tell the untold stories of people of color, says #WTSU was made for the Black and Brown community. When Lathan asked, “How do you hope that white people view [the film?” DuVernay responded that it’s “very far” from her priority.
“You know that’s very far from my priority. Yeah, I made this for people of color. I made it for Black people. I made it to bear witness to these boy’s stories, and those are Black and Brown boys. I wanted them to be heard. I want to be able to tell our story,” DuVernay explained. She then addressed social media users saying they are tired of sad stories about Black people.
“I do take a little umbrage with ‘why we always gotta see sad stories’ and ‘why does it have to always be that’ and it’s like we need to tell our stories,” she said. “These boys’ stories were told 30 years by people who did not care about them. They were made to say things that they didn’t mean. That weren’t real. They’re put through the process; they’re demonized, they’re dehumanized and so what are we supposed to be like, ‘Okay, well you told that side of the story, and we’re just going to keep it moving,’” Duvernay added.
On a lighter part of the conversation, DuVernay shared her thoughts on fans referring to her as “Auntie.” A name she says is appreciated but not necessarily welcomed. “First of all, I have a real issue with recently I’ve been getting called on Twitter ‘Auntie Ava,’” the 46-year-old said. “Why?! Why?! Am I that old? Because I don’t feel that old.” When Lathan explained that the title is more so referencing her cultural impact, DuVernay said she “appreciate[s] that.” “I’ve been feeling some kinda way about it,” she maintained. Following the interview, the director took to Twitter to break down her feelings on certain titles and the best way she’d like to be addressed.
“For the record, I happily respond to: ‘Hello, Ms. DuVernay,’ ‘Hello, Sis,’ ‘Hello, Queen,’ ‘Hello, Family,’ ‘Hello, Ava’ (safest bet),” she wrote. “Ms. Ava is fine if you’re under 18.” She added, “Thanks for showing me respect regardless, Van. Had fun talking to you. Wishing you all good things.”