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Power Of The Dog Director Apologizes After Making ‘Devaluing’ Comment About Venus And Serena Williams

Daniele Lawson and Layla Crawford in King Richard
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

When you’re a woman trying to build a career in a male dominated industry, it is going to be difficult. That much goes without saying. This week Jane Campion, director of Power of the Dog was able to overcome her male colleagues by taking home the top director prize at the Critics Choice Awards. But in doing so she made a comment about Venus and Serena Williams that she is now apologizing for.

During her acceptance speech for Best Director at the Critics Choice Awards Jane Campion made reference to Venus and Serena Williams, whose story is also part of the awards race this year in the Will Smith-led King Richard. Campion called the tennis greats “marvels” but also said that they did not need to compete against men, as she has always had to do. Campion has now released how poorly she spoke and has issued an apology which The Independent has quoted, where Campion calls her statement “thoughtless.” The apology reads… 

I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved. I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes. The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world.

Jane Campion apologizes for her statement on multiple levels. First off, her words were simply factually incorrect. Venus and Serena Williams may not compete directly against men on a daily basis, but they have certainly done so, and women’s tennis certainly competes against the men for recognition, airtime and more. Beyond that, even if this were not the case, the implication of Campion’s words is that those that do compete directly against men in their field are somehow more important or successful-- at least when they win. 

Being a female director in Hollywood is certainly not an easy job. Jane Campion has been reminded of that herself recently. Women have to fight harder to be given opportunities, and even those that achieve the opportunities then need to fight for recognition and access to higher profile projects. It’s understandable why Campion would be proud of herself for taking an award from the likes of Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson, but as she says, in doing so and saying this she minimized the accomplishments of other successful women, which the director says was not her intention. She continues… 

The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.

I think we can all agree that Venus Williams, Serena Williams, and Jane Campion are all incredible women who have accomplished great things in their chosen field. We don’t need to set up against each other. 

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.