Director Melina Matsoukas has an outstanding resume. Her riveting work can be seen in Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” Beyoncé’s “Formation”–both of which earned her Grammys, and most recently, Issa Rae’s Insecure. Success, however, didn’t come easy. The 36-year-old director is a rare breed in the film industry. Rare in two ways specifically: being a woman and being a woman of color. This past weekend Matsoukas was honored at her alma mater, New York University Tisch School of the Arts, as Woman of the Year at the Fusion Film Festival. In a classroom packed with inspiring directors and producers, mainly women of color, Matsoukas spoke candidly about her journey and lessons she’s learned throughout her career from rejection to money, and staying humble. Check out a few gems below and read the ELLE article in full here.
“You just gotta show up. You gotta puff out your chest and speak up. I’m quite a loud person on set, so that helps. But you know, you gotta buck up and work.”
“Rejection is a huge part of my career. You will have to get used to rejection because not everybody is going to like what you say and you have to be okay with that. Maybe one lost opportunity means that another larger opportunity will come.”
On being humble:
“I don’t know if you ever feel like’ ‘I made it.’ I definitely don’t. I definitely always have room to grow and always want to grow and always want to elevate whatever I am doing. I never feel like anything I have done is perfect. You need to stay humble in everything you do. As a woman of color, you have to believe you belong, and you have to know you can make your own way.”
“The worst career advice is to just do something because it’s paying, and there are a lot people out there that will push you to take a job because of money. I am not motivated by money and I have found a lot of disappointment when I’ve had to do something because I needed to support myself in that way. I do feel like you can do both. You can create art and pieces you believe in, and you can sustain yourself. There is no reason that’s not possible.”