Empowerment Series: AW Participates in Press Roundtable with Ava DuVernay for New Docuseries ‘Home Sweet Home” on NBC
The name Ava DuVernay is synonymous with greatness. She picked up a camera at the age of 32 and has been making magic, ever since. The Academy-Award nominee has a long list of film and television credits including Selma, When They See Us, 13th, The Wrinkle in Time, and Queen Sugar, just to name a few. This powerhouse is not short on recognition from BAFTA, NAACP, and the Emmys. She has already made history, as the first African American woman to win for Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival. The filmmaker also holds a seat on the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ advisory board. Her list of accomplishments is continuously thriving, like her passion for spreading cultural diversity awareness.
As Executive Producer of NBC’s “Home Sweet Home,“ Ava Duvernay will bring viewers authentic human experiences that are sure to capture hearts. AW was granted an early screening of the new docuseries. Undoubtedly, this show will plant a seed of empathy in people who take a moment to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Each week, the unscripted reality show takes two households on a journey of self-discovery. Families are immersed in a social experiment that requires an exchange of identities, race, culture, geography, gender, and economic status.
AW is grateful for its participation in the press roundtable for the series. The hour-long meeting offered an opportunity to listen to the producer share her thoughts and hopes for the project. Questions posed by journalists sparked honest conversations about unconscious bias, assumptions, and the importance of understanding, as well as, respecting our differences. The neutral forum gave way to compassion while discussing the tough subjects. The disparity between us should not put us on opposing sides, instead, encourage learning more about each other.
The tendency to label groups is more common than we may think. Society can be easily influenced by social stereotypes. Sometimes, our beliefs are formed outside conscious awareness making it difficult to shake off “what we think we know” about others. The newspapers we read, the programming watched, our upbringing, the company we keep, the part of the world we live in, all affect how we perceive the world and the people around us. It is our responsibility to acknowledge bias and educate ourselves to ensure that our actions are not based on false judgment.
During the roundtable, she explained that Home Sweet Home was created to offer perspective, and hopefully, bring appreciation for other human beings. Although clear differences exist, there is one thing that binds us, humanity. Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, wants to live with dignity and make sure loved ones are safe. The lack of interaction and limitations we set on what outsiders learn about us can lead to segregation. Fear plays a role in our lives, preventing us from coming together. It becomes more and more difficult to bridge the gap that separates us.
On the outside, this docuseries may seem like another swap show but it’s so much more. The families participating want to engage in a learning experience, they bring their curiosity and desire to be part of something good. There are no plot twists or negative components added for dramatic effect. The emotions that may arise are rather internal, as family members deal with their own feelings caused by the unfamiliar.
Eventually, the microphone turned to me. I was so happy to ask the question. My confidence prevailed, then the award-winning filmmaker responded with incredible grace and authenticity.
Question: As executive producer of a series that challenges racial, economic, geographic, gender, and identity assumptions, which I think most of us have. What did you learn during the filming that was surprising or enlightening?
She praised my question then went on to explain the episode with the Mormon family. The realization of her own preconceived notions about who and what Mormons are was surprising. The assumption had always been, Mormons did not like Black people, it is what she knew. Therefore, having a Mormon and Black family have this cultural exchange brought some discomfort. It turned out there were no issues with color, the Mormons truly wanted to learn more about the other family’s experiences.
Ms. Durvernay was able to see them as people, beyond their faith. As it turns out, they had their own reservations about multiple wives, feminist matters, and the history of black and brown people. She would have missed out on this beautiful moment with a lovely family if she would have led with assumption. She realized this was exactly what she wanted the show to do for others.
This series is a celebration of what we have in common. An opportunity to see beyond what we assume we know about other cultures, religions, races, traditions, and people. Let’s take a little time to see these families explore life while standing in someone else’s shoes.
“Leave your shoes at the door and walk in someone else’s.” Home Sweet Home premieres on Friday, October 15th at 8:00 pm EST on NBC.
Check your local listings for times in your area.
Photo Credit: Adam Burrell, NBC
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