How do you follow up a movie as incredible as Selma? If you’re director Ava DuVernay, you don’t tie yourself down to any one project – or, as it turns out, any one medium. The tremendously talented filmmaker, whose snub for Best Director was this biggest Oscar upset, has signed on to write, direct and produce a dramatic series for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, based on the Natalie Baszile novel Queen Sugar.
DuVernay and Winfrey already had an established working relationship, seeing as the latter served as a producer on Selma and had a small but pivotal role as civil rights activist Annie Lee Cooper. Queen Sugar certainly seems like a promising project for the two racially conscious entertainers, seeing as it focuses on an African-American woman and single mother fighting to build a life for herself in the contemporary South.
As exciting as it is to see DuVernay snag yet another directing gig (she has also set a Hurricane Katrina-set murder mystery with Selma actor David Oyelowo), here’s hoping that the OWN job doesn’t take her away from feature filmmaking for too long. Selma was this writer’s favorite film of 2014, and DuVernay’s distinctive work behind the camera, as well as her ambitious vision for the civil rights drama, was a huge part of what made the movie so successful. In the age of #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite, we need more filmmakers like her who are willing to tackle the tricky racial problems prevalent throughout American society.
It’s not currently known whether DuVernay will helm the pilot before stepping back into a more advisory position (à la David Fincher on House of Cards) or direct for the duration of Queen Sugar (à la Cary Fukunaga on True Detective). Given that Winfrey owns the network, it’s a sure thing that the series will go ahead past a pilot order, so one would imagine that it will appear on television screens sometime next year.