Director Nzingha Stewart has put her creative spin on Daisy Jones & The Six, and even though the series isn’t exclusively a Black project, the scope of it all was hard to pass up. “The opportunity to do something so big—by the end we were shooting concerts in 30,000-seat venues–doesn’t come along that often for women of color,” Stewart says of the musical-based drama. “I was also drawn to the project because of the time period. The early ’70s was such a fun, decadent, sexy time.”
Helming non-Black projects and series is a space where Black directors still struggle to be seen and heard. “I have started to see more Black directors being given opportunities on non-Black projects,” Stewart shares. "But booking big-budget features and pilots, with pilots obviously setting the tone for a series and royalties associated with it, it’s a big deal to do. I worry that sometimes that Black directors are trusted to do an episode or two in particular on non-Black shows, but aren’t trusted to build the world out, set the tone and produce the show in addition to directing.”
Stewart took a bold step to establish more creative control behind the camera. “I took a leap of faith and told my team I would only do pilots or jobs where I had an executive producer credit along with being the director. And it was scary because most of my work at the time was episodic. But I knew my skill set in world-building was being underutilized only doing an episode or two of a show and I wanted to do more.”
The risk paid off for Stewart, who’s working on Daisy Jones through Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company, says, “I've worked with her company before and have found them to be so supportive of both stories and creatives by, for and with women of color... Daisy Jones is a great model for equity. It’s not a Black show—it was their largest budgeted show ever, it has an epic scope—and they trusted a Black woman to bring it home.”
Watch the season finale of Daisy Jones & The Six on March 24, 2023 on Prime Video.