As protests against systemic racism and police brutality continue, and shows like Cops get canceled, When They See Us director Ava DuVernay is excited to be part of a new kind of conversation about the black community.
She tells ET: “I never imagined we’d be in this place, but feel so blessed and fortunate to be able to contribute to the conversation.”
DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary 13th, about the problems with the nation's prison system and “the racial bias suppression and criminalization of black people,” has seen a 4,665 percent increase in viewership over the last three weeks. “A lot of people have sought it out. That’s what it’s there for: to teach, to share.”
Selma and 13th are available to stream for free online, while When They See Us, which the director says “serves as a snapshot of the destruction that these systems actually have on real people,” is available on Netflix as part its curated collection honoring Black Lives Matter.
DuVernay wants to change the conversation moving forward. “LEAP is really what saved me in this time of darkness and trauma and rage and grief that so many of us are feeling,” she says, adding that “sitting in those feelings was not healthy for me. Trying to do something about it and act was.”
LEAP, or the Law Enforcement Accountability Project, is a new fund set to shape storytelling around police violence.
She says: “A lot of what we’re seeing now is this national blind spot: the fact that we have not been holding police officers who are not doing their work correctly, to task; we've not been holding them accountable. The police unions don’t hold them accountable, police departments don’t, and the courts don’t. There’s overwhelming statistical evidence that this is fact.”