Oprah Winfrey is ready for African-American leadership to step up to the plate in the wake of recent social unrest following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York. The media mogul, who also produced and costarred in “Selma,” thinks the ongoing marches and protests are “wonderful,” but she’s searching for more.
“I think what can be gleaned from our film ‘Selma’ is to really take note of the strategic intention required when you want real change. Strategic, peaceful intention when you want real change,” she told People during an interview which also featured her co-star David Oyelowo.
Ava DuVernay directed the critically acclaimed historical epic, which chronicles the Montgomery marches organized in 1965 to secure equal voting rights for African-Americans. Winfrey plays Annie Lee Cooper, a woman who is denied the right to vote and eventually marches alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., portrayed by Oyelowo.
Both actors saw parallels between what protesters hoped to accomplish now (after the deaths of Garner and Brown) and then. But Winfrey thinks those marches also contained a type of pointed leadership these modern-day responses to tragedies do not.
“I think it’s wonderful to march and protest and it’s wonderful to see all across the country people doing it, but what I really am looking for is some type of leadership to come out of this to say, ‘This is what we want.'” She continued. “This is what we want, this is what has to change, these are the steps we need to take to make these changes, and this is what we need to do to get it.'”
Oyelowo added: “And you saw that in the way black and white, young and old, came together to say, ‘This is not OK.'”
Winrey previously revealed DuVernay had to ask her to play Cooper several times before she finally accepted the role when her admiration of Cooper won out: “Having people look at you and not see you as a human being — she just got tired of it,” Winfrey said. “You cannot know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.”
As TheWrap previously reported, historians have taken issue with “Selma’s” portrayal of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who is shown on screen as being against King’s Alabama protests.