Salli Richardson-Whitfield needs no introduction whatsoever. With over 30 years in the world of entertainment, she is a vet who is determined to work hard, play hard, and provide viewers with content that they can relate to and feel. We caught up with the inspiring director to discuss her experience directing Ava DuVernay and Oprah’s popular series, Queen Sugar, how she juggles work life on top of being a mother, and the exciting projects she has to come.
What was it like directing two episodes of Ava DuVernay and Oprah’s hit series, Queen Sugar?
That was the beginning of this new journey of my life and it was really what changed my life. Ava was the person who inspired me to direct in the first place. She was the one who gave the heat to the flames. I got to direct my husband and all these talented African American actors who are just so wonderful. The show is so beautiful. For me, that show will always be the highlight of my career because it’s really the thing that got it started and solidified that this was what I was supposed to be doing. I will always be thankful for the show and for Ava DuVernay.
You recently directed the controversial episode of ABC’s Black-ish. Which hit on the subject of colorism. How were you able to direct such a touchy subject to make viewers more aware?
Well, a lot of times it starts with a wonderfully written episode. I got lucky, I got a good one. I have lived this so that’s what’s wonderful about being a black director because you can tell your own story in a way that is legitimate and has the heart that it needs to have. I have been there, I have seen it. It’s easier for us to tell our own experiences because we have been there and I think that’s why you will feel the part in that story more whereas if it were someone else telling our story.
With all the travel your job entails, how do you juggle family life, work, and being a working mom?
Honestly, it’s really hard. I used to be a little more cavalier with that answer. Like right now, I have been gone awhile, I try to go home on the weekends but sometimes I can’t. I really miss my family. As much as you can do it all, things suffer. The one thing is that my family and my kids understand that I am building something new. I’m spending a lot of time on it now but eventually, I will not have to spend so much time on it later. I don’t know if I even answered your question but it’s definitely complicated as a working mom and a mom that is traveling a lot.
Are there any upcoming projects you can give us insight into? What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Well, it will be more directing and producing. I will be on my way to Budapest to direct this new television series. After that, I will be doing a Hulu show. Hopefully, I will be back to Black-ish soon. It’s been busy! I have a show that BET is developing. In addition, I have two other shows in development. For me, it’s all about continuing my growth. The next step is to create my own shows. Maybe I will start acting in them too (laughs).
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All images by Rowan Daly | provided by Strategic Public Relations