Before directing Disney
The acclaimed director hopes to smooth the path for the next woman or person of color with a $500,000 filmmaking grant offered in partnership with Google
“It’s squarely in our mission, in our goal is to amplify the voices of black artists, people of color, women of all kinds,” said DuVernay. “It’s a full-circle moment to have started with a $50,000 budget film as a filmmaker myself and, 10 years later … to be able to give a half million dollars to a filmmaker to make something.”
The grant is the outgrowth of conversations between DuVernay and the tech giant. Google has helped distribute educational materials for Selma, her film about Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1965 voting rights march in Alabama, and for When They See Us, her Emmy Award-nominated Netflix
“On the entertainment side, we wanted to do something unique and meaningful for our brand and diverse creators,” said Elle Roth-Brunet, Google Assistant’s entertainment partnerships lead, “And worked with Array to put together this program to give a filmmaker from an underrepresented background their first feature.”
The recipient of this mentorship and filmmaking opportunity will be selected by an advisory committee within the independent filmmaking community, including Gabrielle Glore (Urbanworld, Festival Director & Head of Programming), Francis Cullado (Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Executive Director for Visual Communications Media), Crystal Echo Hawk (IllumiNative, Founder and Executive Director), María Rauqel Bozzi (Senior Director of Education & International Initiatives at Film Independent), and Jio MAMI (Mumbai Film Festival).
DuVernay has been an outspoken advocate for greater diversity in Hollywood who devoted her own time and resources to create change. She founded Array in 2011 to distribute independent feature films that might not otherwise find an audience. She used proceeds from A Wrinkle in Time to purchase three-buildings in Historic Filipinotown in downtown Los Angeles that are now home the Array Creative Campus, with post-production facilities and a 50-seat theater that screens Array titles, work by local artists and an annual film series, Array 360.
Array Filmworks, which develops and produces DuVernay’s film and television projects, will produce the new film project. The production will be staffed in part through Array Crew, a database of film and television professionals from groups often underrepresented in film — including women, black, Indigenous, people of color, Asians and Pacific Islanders.
“There’s something to be said for encouraging people to make work where they are and how they can,” said DuVernay. “When people see something beautiful made for not much I think it’s really healthy for our industry and for emerging filmmakers. So that’s why I wanted to do it.”