INTERVIEWER: basement like this? You know, no,
not in a basement. But you have to meet people
where they are, you know? You got to meet
them where they are. [MUSIC PLAYING] [CHEERING] It’s my girl. Hey, my guys. Hey, straight west coast, cuz. Hey, welcome. Good to see you, brother. Y’all, let’s pull into
this terrifying basement. That’s why we appreciate you. It’s nice. You did nice things
with the place. What’s up?
It’s your boys in the building. That’s right.
You know what I’m saying. Nothing but
illustrious guests. Yeah. And we continue on the
trail with Ava DuVernay. In the building, y’all. Illustrious
guest– that’s nice. DESUS: Illustrious guest. You’re from Compton?
– Yeah. – Compton in the house.
– You know what I’m saying? Bompton. How much of being
raised in Compton comes through in
your filmmaking? I just think it’s about living
in a place where you’re unseen, you know what I mean? That’s why the loss of John
Singleton was such a big one. MERO: Rest in peace. Yeah, rest in peace. Because we’re a small tribe
out there of black filmmakers. Ain’t a lot of us. You could really count
us on a couple hands. But I remember watching
“Boyz n the Hood” and seeing people who
looked like my homies for the first time as
the main character, not the guy that’s going to
just come up on the side– Come out and be
like, that’s whack. And then just
disappear off camera. AVA DUVERNAY: Yeah,
you know what I mean? Yeah. But full characters
with mothers, and homes, and you got to
see the inside of the house. Being from that
place, I’m trying to tell those stories
of stories that mean something to that community
more than anybody else. Yeah. Growing up, watching “Boyz
n the Hood” was weird to us because we from the Bronx.
We had never seen– AVA DUVERNAY: Is
it that different? That’s the thing. AVA DUVERNAY:
There’s some things that are very west coast in it. Yeah, the drive-bys. There’s some things that
it was so similar to our– We were like, drive-bys? Yeah.
Here, we have walk-bys. Walk-bys.
Yeah. We just walk up like, pow! All right, peace. All right. Your movie about the
Central Park Five. Yes? What made you make it? The lives of black and
brown people and just really digging into things that I
think people should know– us as people of color, but
also just the wider world. But moreso, this was
just such an injustice that was done to these
five and I don’t think people really know the story. People don’t know what
really happened then and people certainly
don’t know what happened 30 years after to
them, post incarceration. It’s all the things
they can’t do, all the ways they can’t move. They’ve served their time.
– Right. AVA DUVERNAY: But still,
we keep them shackled. DESUS: You can’t [INAUDIBLE] And that’s millions
and millions of people. And overwhelmingly,
those people are us. They’re people of color. Yeah. That is great. And then it’s not only that. I remember when Trump
had the advertisement in the newspaper calling
for the death penalty of the Central Park Five. Yeah. He had a whole
page in that shit. [INTERPOSING VOICES] I don’t know if that made
it out to the west coast. Yeah. No, multiple newspapers
here in town. He only did it here, but
he did all the newspapers. It was only two weeks after
the boys were arrested. He called for their death. It was before their
trial, before anything. He just–
– And they were kids. They were 14, and 15, and 16. You know what I’m saying? That was wild. Yeah. And that’s something
that we always comment on. People voted for this
dude and I’m like, yo, do you know who this dude is? We’re New Yorkers
so we have a very close lens on Donald Trump,
from the ’80s up until now. And it’s like, yo, this
dude’s been an asshole. Now, you know this
dude is an asshole. – Yes.
– Right. There’s documentation. There’s receipts. You know what I mean?
– Right. It didn’t matter. [INTERPOSING VOICES] It seems like now,
nothing matters– nothing. – Nothing matters at all.
– Nothing sticks. Nothing matters. It’s scary. It’s like a horror
story, really. That’s kind of terrifying. For all the young, ambitious
women of color out there who want to be in this position,
what is something that you can tell to somebody
who’s coming up who has no experience in the game? Well, one thing I
would say that I always tell people is, there’s
more jobs than the actor and the director. Literally, if I had
known about all the jobs, I probably wouldn’t
have been a director. Anything that you could imagine
that you’re interested in, you can do that for film and TV. You know that’s funny? I’m really obsessed
with the people that put down the gaffer tape. There’s all kinds of things. There’s a job called
scenic painter. You had a scenic
painter for this, OK? They come down and–
did you do all this? MERO: Yeah.
AVA DUVERNAY: You did all this? You’re a scene painter?
– Nah– – Wow.
– –he’s a graffiti artist. And he also did turn
on the ventilation. We almost died while he
was spray painting, but– [INTERPOSING VOICES]
– Wow. Really, you did this space? This is actually
really impressive. But it–
– Well, that. Not–
– Not all the– –that problematic stuff.
the porn over here? [INTERPOSING VOICES]
– No, that one was not us. That was here before us.
AVA DUVERNAY: OK, copy that. I was about to say, you know–
[INTERPOSING VOICES] –grafiti area over here.
[INTERPOSING VOICES] Look, you’ve got to meet
people where they are. This is where you are? I want to come sit with you here
and talk to you about yourself. But that’s OK. You don’t have to
go to film school. You don’t have to be a
great writer, or actress, or whatever. But you can be a
part of our industry and you can help tell
stories that matter. Study the industry
and find something that might work for you. You make very serious movies. Have you ever thought
about making something lighter like “Soul Plane 2?” “Soul Plane 2”
was offered to me. MERO: Or like, “Who’s The Man?” No, I’m kidding. I was like, tell me more. – Tell me more.
– Tell me more. How did we get to this? Or a “Who’s The Man”
reboot with like Too Young. AVA DUVERNAY: What’s
“Who’s The Man?” Back in the day, it was–
Lover and Doctor Dre. DESUS: And they were cops. I think you guys could
do something else, though. MERO: Yeah? Yeah, I think you guys
could do something else. What now see for us? AVA DUVERNAY: I don’t know. I think you guys could do– Martin Luther
King and Martin– No! Martin Luther King and
Malcolm X in a buddy cop comedy. Bomb! AVA DUVERNAY: You
guys could do that. I could do that with you. You’re not going to
direct that for us? That was good. I could do that. I would do that. You know, I see it
lower like a “Friday.” Yeah, that’s a no-brainer. Anybody, you want to help?
No? Hello? OK.
Yeah– [INTERPOSING VOICES] –something like that.
– Yeah. Also you are– what is the proper
term for somebody who gets other rich people
to pay for a film to be made? But you did that. Wow. You coordinated like
people to finance films and shit like that? Because I’m like, yo,
I did my homework. I was–
I have a distribution company. – Distribution, OK.
– Distribution, there you go. All right.
– Yes. – That’s the industry word.
– That’s the industry word. [INTERPOSING VOICES] What you were saying was just
like, some loan shark shit. Yeah. Like, yo, look,
y’all, I’m going to– [INTERPOSING VOICES]
– I was like, damn. I don’t want to
implicate myself. –and I’mma give
it back to you. It was like, yo. Where’s Ava’s money? Right? Which hand you write with? She said 25 percent
interest, motherfucker. I’m just thinking of us at
home, watching the box office. He’s like– Shit. We’re in trouble. We gotta bring a beating. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Yes, I have a distribution
company called ARRAY. Yeah. We distribute films that are
people of color and women that other people wouldn’t. So we put them out,
just making sure that filmmakers have a chance
to connect with audiences. You know, a lot of black
and brown communities don’t have movie theaters
in their community. You guys are in New York,
so they’re everywhere. We don’t have
enough in New York. But there’s no movie
theaters in Compton. Really? There’s not one movie
theater in Compton. – Zero?
– No. And I made a movie called Selma. It’s in a 90% black area. No movie theaters there. There’s no Magic
Johnson theater? – In Compton?
– Yeah. – No.
– That’s whack. Wow. You’re thinking
of South Central. That’s a whole different place.
– Yeah. Listen, we do not
know Compton anything. Yeah. Y’all need to
come out to Cali. [INTERPOSING VOICES]
– –but we come out– [INTERPOSING VOICES]
– We’re just running because– Yeah, no.
Where you guys stay? – It depends.
– I don’t even know. [INTERPOSING VOICES] You need to really
get a real tour. No, you really should. So maybe we could do
that, make it a film piece. You know what I’m saying? Let’s do it. But yeah. Really, we went out there and
we were staying in Pasadena? – Yeah.
– What? Yeah. And we went for like–
– Pasadena? [INTERPOSING VOICES] We had to do something
there and then– –the TCAs. And then we were like, we were– No disrespect to Pasadena. I’m going to have
tweets from Pasadena. But Pasadena? Yeah, because that’s
where the TCA thing– – The TCA was.
– Yeah. So we went there and we went– It’s a sprawling place. Exactly. It’s like if I
landed in New York and I just went to Times Square. That’s what y’all are doing.
– Yeah. And I was just like,
I’ve been to New York. You know that’s not
the real New York. Same with Cali. We’ve been around some
places in California, but it’s just like,
California is so big. – Yeah.
– It is. We’ll go to like, San
Francisco and people are like, nah.
You got to go to Oakland. So then we’ll go to Oakland.
– Exactly. And it’s like, yo, you got
to come up here and stuff. Right. And then we don’t know,
so I’m just like, we in LA. All right.
[INTERPOSING VOICES] Let’s drive into San
Francisco tomorrow. – Yeah.
– They’re like, no. No. Fam, that’s five
and a half hours. Not how it works
at all, right? No, you can’t do it. You know what I’m saying? Man, next time– Even when you’re coming in
on a plane and you look down– you just look to see the
cars and there’s just mad brake lights.
– Yeah. You just see brake
lights for like, 28 miles. That’s what we do.
Traffic. Wonderful. You’re the first
black woman to have $100 million budget for a film. But they said you are still
frugal in the streets. You love the $0.99 stores. Frugal in the streets. You can be a lot of
things in the streets. DESUS: Yes. Most people don’t have pride
in being frugal in the streets. No, we’re immigrant
children so– You are?
Thank you for recognizing. [INTERPOSING VOICES] –any type of savings–
it’s like, yes. Yes, frugal in the streets. Yeah, I call my mom
when I use a coupon like, yo, guess what, Ma? DESUS: She’s like, I felt it. Yeah. I got these Lysol
wipes for $2.00 off. [SPEAKING SPANISH] I love the $0.99 store. Yep. I don’t know. I just love them, I
guess, because you go in and you’re just like– DESUS: No, you can
get so much shit. –I’m about to do this. You know what I mean? I can really do this. DESUS: Rack up. You leave with two
bags and it was $10.00. Yeah. And nothing lasts for
more than two days because it’s going to break.
But you know– It was a dollar.
It don’t matter. I don’t know.
I just get a little feeling. I really love it. DESUS: If you weren’t
making films right now, what would you be doing? I was a publicist for movies. So I would publicize the
overall film or TV shows. You might not like
being our publicist. Shout out to our publicist–
you know what I’m saying– Who’s not even here today. –who’s constantly
having panic attacks. Yeah. I could handle you both. Yeah, I could handle you both. I’d have you in the
palm of my hand. I think I would– You’d be like, yo, Mero, get
the fuck off Twitter right now. Get the fuck off
Twitter right now. Wow. You cannot say that to
that person on Twitter. Stop. Well, Ava, thanks for
sitting down with us. We could do this forever. That’s right. We’ve been talking
for four hours. We know you’re a
very busy woman. So we’re going to
end the interview the same way we always do. What would your neon sign say? My neon sign would say,
live without permission. Surprised, right?
– You know what I’m saying? LA in the motherfucker cuz Yo, “When They See Us.” The Bronx. It airs on Netflix tomorrow. – “When They See Us.”
It’s a four-part series. Watch all four parts, all right? It’s a mini series,
you know what I’m saying? But it’s massive.
It’s major. [MUSIC PLAYING]