Onstage at the third annual Women In Entertainment Summit, Mudbound and Bessie director Dee Rees admitted she had mostly men to thank for elevating her career. “Ironically, it was mostly men that took me on,” she shared mentioning people like Spike Lee, who helped on her first feature Pariah, Michael Lombardo and Len Amato at HBO who brought her on the Bessie project, and Cassian Elwes who sent her the script for Mudbound. But despite this fact, Rees is steadfast on giving women opportunities in the industry.
“I want to be a woman who was giving other women jobs and try to change that narrative,” Rees said, which drew an applause from the crowd. In pushing that mandate, Rees made a point to hire a team of women in leadership roles during the production of Mudbound.
“I was trying to get all women for my department heads… I really wanted women to tell the story and approach a pioneering western story,” which is usually thought of as masculine material.
Mudbound, based on the novel by Hillary Jordan, tells the story of two families pitted against one another by a ruthless social hierarchy, yet bound together by the shared farmland of the Mississippi Delta.
Co-written by Rees and Virgil Williams, the film picked up award season buzz when it premiered at Sundance this year. It bows in theaters and will be available to stream on Netflix November 17.