Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay Discuss Women in Film as ‘Queen Sugar’ Season Two Returns
By Brittany K. Jackson Contributing Writer
Published June 15, 2017

(L-R:) Erik Logan, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, and Kofi Siriboe at “Queen Sugar” press event at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills on Tuesday, June 6. (Photo Courtesy: Brittany K. Jackson)

Queen Sugar is approaching its’ 2nd season on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and everyone is buzzing about it. Whether it’s the ability to glare at Ralph Angel’s chocolate covered skin or to delve deep into Aunt Violet and Hollywood Desonier’s steamy cougar meets cub “situationshp,” viewers are ready to see how the new season unfolds.

And that’s not all, the highly anticipated series will continue with a dream team of female executive producers, namely the “Queen of Daytime Television” herself, Oprah Winfrey, the nation’s advocate for female filmmakers, Ava DuVernay, and the recently promoted writer, showrunner and producer, Monica Macer.

In Season 2, the contemporary drama will resume as the estranged Bordelon siblings learn to navigate their individual and collective roles as heirs to a massive Louisiana sugarcane mill following their father’s untimely death.


In an hour-long panel discussion featuring Winfrey, DuVernay, and “Queen Sugar” cast-mates Dawn-Lyen Gardner and Kofi Siriboe, about the word slavery, and its’ suggested omission throughout Season 1.

(L-R:) Kofi Siriboe and Dawn-Lyen Gardner at the Television Academy’s Wolf Theatre in North Hollywood on Tuesday, June 6. (Photo Courtesy: OWN/Mark Davis-Silverhub)

DuVernay quickly countered, stating that the show did in fact explore the family’s roots in slavery, with one episode specifically focusing on the Bordelon legacy, the White families who previously held ownership, and slave shack where their ancestors were once housed.

DuVernay added that the series itself represents an “exploration” of the merge between contemporary artistry with a historical context as its base, noting that while not “uncharted territory,” it hasn’t been a “well beaten path.”

Queen Sugar will also feature an all-female directorial crew for its second season. DuVernay said that with Oprah’s blessings, she purposefully worked to over index and create a platform where stories can be told from a woman’s perspective more often.

“If “Game of Thrones” can have three seasons of all male directors, why can’t we have three seasons of all women directors? If they can do it, why can’t we do it? You only do that because you can and you want to,” DuVernay declared.

Winfrey also weighed in on the changing tide for women in film. “All of the women directors from Season 1, you can’t book them now,” she stated. “It elevated the conversation, so other people started talking about it, so it makes you think a little differently next time you’re going to hire,” Winfrey continued.

DuVernay also noted that the show also passes the “Bechdel Test”, which ensures that at least one scene in each episode includes a conversation between women that does not discuss men.


When posed a question on the choice to bring in Macer, Winfrey provided quite the poignant response. “I am smart enough to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am, and so I trust [DuVernay], I believe in her, I believe in her vision, I believe in the vision we originally set for the series,” Winfrey said. “So when she calls me up and says I’m going to hire Melissa, or I’m going to hire Monica, I go, okay!”

As for character development and the intricacies of emotional preparation for the “Queen Sugar” actor’s experience, Gardner says that she looks for detail and texture with any storyline. “It’s a springboard for my imagination, I can go anywhere if I have details,” she said. Gardner says that as her character Charley undertakes the daunting task of running the Bordelon sugarcane mill as a Black female, the show will follow her “spiritual crisis” and journey to finding wholeness, if at all possible.

“Queen Sugar” is set to debut with a two-night premiere event Tuesday, June 20, and Wednesday, June 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN.

(Photo Courtesy: OWN/Mark Davis-Silverhub)

Categories: Entertainment | TV
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