Variety honors creative leaders Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Elizabeth Olsen and Malala Yousafzai for the 2022 Power of Women celebration.
The OWN drama “Queen Sugar” made its mark on TV thanks to creator Ava DuVernay’s decision to only hire women to direct the show, now in its seventh and final season. Variety spoke to all 42 directors (including DuVernay), who emphasized how her daring mandate changed the trajectory not only of their careers — with 39 of them getting their first episodic credit — but also of their lives.
Working on “Queen Sugar” had practical benefits: Many of the directors secured entry into the DGA, received health insurance and found representation for the first time. But the greatest gain may have been their newfound sense of confidence in their talents. That was a hard-won victory in an industry that has made it so hard, for so long, for women. Collectively, they refer to the changes brought about, thanks to the “Queen Sugar” initiative, as “the Ava Effect.”
#20 Marie Jamora
On The Ava Effect? “Ava does not dismiss people. I think that’s why she’s found such a wealth of talent. Nobody had the balls to do it, and she continues to do it, even with her ARRAY Crew: open up spaces where women of color are not welcome. If Hollywood can do the same thing — look at the whole package and give the work a chance — I think it would change. You know how in Hollywood there’s always a fear of failure? And once you fail, you’ve lost your shot? She created this environment where you feel like she’s there for you: “You’re not going to fail. You’re safe. We’re here for you.”