Selma director Ava DuVernay has revealed that she is not surprised about not being nominated for this year’s Academy Awards. In fact, Ava knew last month that she didn’t make the list. But no one in the Academy threw any hints her way, DuVernay simply stated “It’s math,” which according to her, seldom adds up in her favor.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ava DuVernay explained how the film’s screening copies failed to reach Academy members, and then the film failed to be nominated by the Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild, and Directors Guild. When asked about her disappointment on not being the first African-American women to win an Oscar for directing, DuVernay responded with a hopeful statement.
“It would have been lovely. When it happens to whomever it happens to, it will certainly have meaning.”
The ‘math’ Ava referred to in her statement was inclusive of the over 6000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. According to a study by the Los Angeles Times, within the directors category, a group in which only other directors’ votes actually count, the members are 91 percent male and 90 percent white. These numbers are good, compared to the Academy’s executive branch, which contains only one person of color.
Ava DuVernay has compared the Academy to a ‘boys club,’ in which you have to know someone to be noticed.
“I know not one person in my branch.”
Though Ava knew that odds were against her, she was determined to stick to her ‘vision.’ According to a recent statement, DuVernay had a clear plan to the creation of the film Selma that she refused to let any outside sources compromise.
“It was important to me that my voice, my vision, stayed intact, because if this movie failed, then it did so based on what I truly liked rather than on some compromise someone got me to make. I would have never forgiven myself because I knew there was not going to be another chance.”
After the announcement of the 2014 Academy Award nominees on January 15, many people swarmed to social media in protest for what they considered pure racism. In agreement with the biased Academy voting was long time member Alfre Woodard, who starred in 12 Years a Slave. Alfre also showed a lack of shock on the matter.
“Oh, my, did we miss it this year… But people can vote for whatever they want, and half of the things I voted for weren’t recognized. I’m used to that. I live in America—and I’m a woman of color.”
Among the first all-white Academy Awards nominee list since 1998 are directors Clint Eastwood and Christopher Nolan, a list that many feel Ava DuVernay has not earned the privileged to be added to. The director’s first film was as recent as 2011. Seniority aside, Ava has expressed both her anticipation and skepticism for her future in the director’s chair.
“I’ve never been in this place before. There is no precedent for it and there is no black woman I can call and ask. I’m trying to be clear and follow my own footsteps because there is no black woman’s footsteps to follow.”