How Are Ava DuVernay and Peter Roth Working to Diversify Crews?

Credit: Netflix
Finally, a database to help crew diversity. 

In a recent interview in the Los Angeles Times, we learned that filmmaker Ava DuVernay has partnered with former Warner Bros. Television chairman Peter Roth to launch "Array Crew"—a division of the Array Alliance. It will be a database to highlight below-the-line talent from diverse backgrounds. 

For far too long, the excuse for not having a diverse crew was just not knowing people or being able to see resumes. This initiative eliminates that excuse, giving access to qualified people who can fill roles. 

DuVernay told the Times, “I’m not saying you have to hire the woman or the person of color, but you’ve got to interview a woman or person of color; you can’t just bring all your friends, all your white men friends from the other show. You’ve got to show me that for every single position on your crew on your department, that you have looked at someone else that you haven’t looked at before.”

She added, “I saw for the first time [that] maybe it’s not all, 'I’m trying to keep you out.' It’s just, you don’t know how. You don’t know where to look. You don’t know who to ask. … Maybe the fight is to help them; help them understand how to do it. And that’s something to wrestle with because do I want to take time out of my creative space to aid in the forward movement of other people and in the psychological progress of other people as it pertains to race and gender? Not really. But if someone doesn’t stop and do it, how does it get done?”

On her TV show, Queen Sugar, DuVernay hired an all-female director crew to helm the episodes. She and Roth took the lessons learned on Queen Sugar and applied them to every crew role.

DuVernay said, “The genesis of it was a lot smaller than it is now. And Peter has a lot to do with that.”

She shares credit with Roth for the initiative.

“It was really Peter who said: 'We should contact everyone,'" she said. "He helped me think larger in terms of studios taking part in the foundation of it in a way that made it feel like theirs, which was our original idea. He knew, from a business perspective, [the studios] should invest in this so that you feel like it’s yours.”

They began putting together a list of people they know who could be hired and expanded beyond that.

She continued, “The first two weeks, we had 500 people on a spreadsheet. After a while, it was 750 and then 1,000 and then people calling and hearing about it, and it became a bit of a thing.”

And so the database was born. 

According to the LA Times, "Already in a soft launch stage, the searchable database so far features 2,500 profiles, which can be sorted by crew position, experience, location and more—think IMDb meets LinkedIn. The database is free to qualifying talent, who must have at least one verified credit. While the purpose of the database is to make it easier to find qualified women and people of color for crew positions, it’s open to everyone. It’s focused on U.S.-based talent, but there are plans to expand it to include the U.K. and Canada next year."

If you think your profile should be on their site, sign up here

The pandemic has hit Hollywood hard, and already marginalized groups are being disproportionately affected. This list serves as an ultimate good to help people get the opportunities to advance their careers.  

This is the perfect time to change the way we do things. We can't come out of the pandemic with the same old hiring practices and think everything will be okay. 

Hollywood is going to fundamentally change, and it takes leaders to get us there. 

Let us know what you think in the comments.      

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1 Comment

yet haven't seen any latinos on their sets and they have lowest percentage of inclusion behind and in front of the camera... in a city where there is 4.9 million of them. Makes you wonder huh?

January 5, 2021 at 10:32AM

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