Disney was unkind to “people of colour” – Ava DuVernay

Disney films have not always been kind to “people of colour”, says director Ava DuVernay.

But the tide has changed and the acclaimed filmmaker applauds how far the iconic studio has come.

“I think of representations for people of colour of African Americans in film- the legacy of it is an abhorrent legacy. If you look at the early era of film, the characterisations are very grotesque.  Hollywood has not been kind.  That’s all studios – Disney included,” DuVernay says.

DuVernay, an African American woman, says she is an example of how far the famous film studio has come.

She became the first black woman to direct a film with a $100mil budget.  She spoke to Native Affairs during her visit to New Zealand last year while shooting the Disney film, A Wrinkle in Time.

“I applaud Disney hiring a black woman to direct,” she says.  Disney allowed DuVernay to change the race of the main character of Meg.  She went from a Caucasian girl to bi-racial. 

Disney, which also owns Marvel, changed the cinematic landscape after releasing the superhero flick Black Panther earlier this year.

With an all-black cast and unapologetic African story, the blockbuster broke box office records and is set to become one of the highest grossing films of all time.  

When A Wrinkle in Time was released in US cinemas, DuVernay and Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler were the first black directors to have their movies in the number one and two spots in the US.

“Disney has Marvel films, Pixar films, and Lucas films.  From Star Wars to Black Panther to Moana to Queen of Katwe.  I feel it’s a studio not just doing token work around people of colour. So I’m proud to be working there”.