Dee Rees and the Art of Surviving as a Black Female Director



From her Oscar-nominated “Mudbound” to her new foray into blockbuster cinema, she is trying to create a new kind of Hollywood empire.


In a recent NY Times feature piece, Rees takes us through her career and the changing landscape of Hollywood. “For me, everything still comes with a grain of salt,” she said. “I never trust if it’s going to happen until you see a grip truck pulling up.” Many black women who make a compelling, noteworthy debut never manage to make a second feature — think of Julie Dash or Leslie Harris, whose names you might not know but who are responsible for, respectively, the indie films “Daughters of the Dust” and “Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.” “It seemed like people wondered if that was a fluke,” she said about “Pariah.” After “Mudbound,” she felt that question of her directorial ability has been answered. “Now it’s just about, How much do I get to do?” From Rees’s vantage, this is the time to be working as quickly and furiously as she possibly can to get all of her dream projects off the ground — not just “Follies” but also a lesbian horror film she plans to write with her wife and a sci-fi graphic novel that she can eventually adapt for the screen. “It’s a creator’s market,” she told me. “There are more canvases, and not just feature films. You can work online, you can make different kinds of TV. You can make your thing, and they’ll come to you.”


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