How ‘Queen Sugar’ Changed the New Orleans Film Industry

ARRAY Crew members Aurora Knox, Desiree Stevenson and Stevee-Rayne Warren share their Queen Sugar stories and what it means to a part of the below-the-line community in New Orleans as part of a feature in the LA Times.

Assistant director Desiree Stevenson can measure her life milestones by seasons of “Queen Sugar.”

Before “Queen Sugar,” Stevenson said she was often “one of very few diverse faces on a crew set.” She described the film industry in New Orleans as a “secret club that you had to get into” until DuVernay and her team came and opened the door. Background artists who would come in for a day of work would wind up becoming a part of the AD staff as people who hadn’t been given a chance in the past were promoted from within.

“I’m not holding myself back anymore,” Stevenson said. The experience has inspired her to constantly seek new local people of color to train and teach. Stevenson is a part of DuVernay’s ARRAY Crew, a database of crew members from diverse backgrounds.

“You can’t have too many excuses anymore” to not hire inclusively, Stevenson said. “Queen Sugar” proved that “if you look, you can find people.”

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