Artists should be free to create what we want. I believe there's a special value in work that is a reflection of oneself as opposed to interpretation. When I see a film or a TV show about black people not written by someone who's black, it's an interpretation of that life.
I think good publicists are just like good mommies - always looking out, making sure folks are comfortable and making sure that folks are on time and making sure that folks are getting what they need and know what they need to do.
I'm interested in seeing artists whom I respect who are very focused on the Black Lives Matter moment, bringing that into storytelling in a way that really amplifies the beauty and the humanity of people of color, and does it without having to wave a big sign that says, 'This is what we're doing.'
Oh gosh, I'm completely allergic to historical dramas. Particularly those around the civil-rights movement. It's not my favorite thing to watch. So often they feel like medicine. Or not even a history lesson, because I really like history. Just... obligatory.
We're told that independent film lovers... folks that are used to watching art house films, won't come out and see a film with black people in it - I've been told that in rooms, big rooms, studio rooms, and I know that's not true.
Art is something that grows and breathes and lives, and it shouldn't be predicated on the success of box office - but it is. But within that, you have to give people a chance to find their voice, to play, to continue to create.
Art morphs with what's going on in the world. We say 'Ferguson'; we don't say 'Mike Brown.' Just like we say 'Selma,' not 'Jimmie Lee Jackson.' There is something startling about the people in a particular place, a city or a small town, rising up and taking to the streets.
My interest as an artist is to illuminate the lives of black folks. I definitely am focused on films that illustrate all that we are and all our nuance and all our complicated beauty and mess, and when you're telling those stories, you gotta have black actors.
Creativity is an energy. It's a precious energy, and it's something to be protected. A lot of people take for granted that they're a creative person, but I know from experience, feeling it in myself, it is a magic; it is an energy. And it can't be taken for granted.
If you walk into a room, and there is no one that's not like you there, whether it's a woman or a person of color, anyone that's different from you, you should be able to say this is a problem. We need allies in that room to say that video, this room, this company, these ideas, this film, this whatever, this is not right - this is not good enough.
I've been to Sundance eight times as a publicist and thought I was very prepared. I mean, who could've been more prepared for me? A publicist who's been there eight times. Getting there as a filmmaker was a completely surreal, different, unexpected experience.
Any film that you see that has any progressive spirits that is made by any people of color or a woman is a triumph in and of itself. Whether you agree with it or not. Something that comes with some point of view and some personal perspective from a woman or a person of color is a unicorn.
In Hollywood, there is one dominant voice. It is a white, male, straight gaze. When I talk about positive portrayals of black people and women, I'm saying complexity. I'm not saying goody-two-shoes, everything's okay. No. The positive view of me is to see me as I am: the 'good,' the 'bad,' the gray. That is a positive portrayal.
With the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of the focus is on the protest and dissent. I'm hoping to dismantle the public notion - for folks outside of the community - of what Black Lives Matter means. It's really about saying that black lives matter: that humanity is the same when you go inside people's homes.
For female directors, there's a whole other set of things we have to think about, particularly when we are casting men, because there are some actors who have never been directed by a woman. Crew members, too.
I think any black woman is a queen. It's just, do you know it? Do you see it in yourself? Do you recognize it, do you abide by that, do you define yourself as that? Based on who we are and what we've been through and how we survive and where we stand, we are on kind of sacred ground. We stand on the backs of our ancestors.
We know there needs to be diversity in storytellers telling their own stories. I think there's a beautiful forward movement in that direction with McQueen telling '12 Years A Slave,' with Coogler telling 'Fruitvale,' and with Daniels telling 'The Butler.'
I'd be absolutely happy to go back and make a smaller picture. I never want my choices to be dictated by budget. That's one of the reasons why I take so much pride in being able to make films for $2 and a paper clip - because I can always get my hands on $2 and a paper clip. I never have to ask for permission for that.
I am honored to be one of this year's Urbanworld ambassadors for the festival's 20th anniversary, joining my friend David Oyelowo. I have always had a special relationship with Urbanworld, back to my days as a festival publicist to previewing my earlier films and now as an ambassador.
I don't even really see sit-ins and marches as passive. I see them as quite assertive. I see those as emotionally aggressive tactics. I see people putting their lives on the line and being bold and brave.
I intend to be making films until I'm an old lady. So, if God willing I get there, I need to create a paradigm for myself where I can make it regardless of whether or not they still like what I'm making.
If, in 2014, we're still making 'white savior movies,' then it's just lazy and unfortunate. We've grown up as a country, and cinema should be able to reflect what's true. And what's true is that black people are the center of their own lives and should tell their own stories from their own perspectives.