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Desus and Mero ask Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five, Trump, and the ultimate hood movie

Ava DuVernay, Desus Nice, The Kid Mero
Screenshot: Desus & Mero

With Ava DuVernay’s wrenching miniseries about the so-called “Central Park Five,” When They See Us, coming out today, the award-winning director made her way down to Desus & Mero’s dank basement interview den for some real talk. For one thing, DuVernay praised the talk show duo’s hand-painted graffiti wall Bodega Boys logo, not knowing that the immediately bashful Mero was the one who painted it. For another, in an extended interview, she fearlessly played lightning round movie critic as the two hosts peppered DuVernay with some of their favorite, often completely unseen childhood favorites and others. DuVernay did unsurprisingly well, dismissing Green Book, while giving the thumbs up to such overlooked flicks as Belly, Jason’s Lyric, Shottas, Dancehall Queen, and Raising Victor Vargas. She did whiff on Cam’ron’s auteur outing Killa Season (DuVernay did go ahead and recommend The Killing Season, though), and confidently pronounced Friday “the ultimate hood movie.”

Desus and Mero did get around to talking about When They See Us, allowing their guest to explain that the eventually exonerated teenagers who Donald Trump famously spent a lot of money to steer toward death row even before their trial, are, as adults, still irrevocably marked by this miscarriage of justice. “They’ve served their time, but we still keep them shackled,” stated DuVernay about the five men whose convictions were later vacated, but who remain the political boogeymen of bigots everywhere. Like, say, the person in the White House. Lifetime New Yorkers Desus and Mero chimed in to say that they remembered Donald Trump’s zeal in pursuing the deaths of five young black 14 and 15-year-olds (who turned out to be innocent) and that they’d tried to warn everyone in the country about Trump all along, to no avail. “Yo, do you know who this dude is?,” explained The Kid Mero, “You know this dude is an asshole. Like, there’s documentation—there’s receipts.”

DuVernay explained that part of her mission as director and now producer and distributor is to help other unrepresented professionals find their way into the film industry. Through her company Array, the Oscar-nominee said she’s looking “to distribute films from people of color and women that other people wouldn’t.” “You don’t have to go to film school,” advised DuVernay, “but you can be a part of our industry.”

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Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us is on Netflix now.

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.