"Sugar" High
  • Friday, Jun. 10, 2022
Christina Voros (photo by Emerson Miller)

The ripple effect of good is real--as reflected in SHOOT’s Emmy season coverage. Last month’s Emmy Preview included observations from Christina Voros, director/cinematographer on 1883 (Paramount+). And this week’s installment of SHOOT’s The Road To Emmy Series contains insights from Amanda Marsalis who directed multiple episodes of Ozark (Netflix) for its swan song season. 

It turns out Voros and Marsalis share a special bond--both directed episodes of Queen Sugar (OWN) for Ava DuVernay, an experience which proved pivotal in their careers. DuVernay made a concerted effort to give directorial opportunities on Queen Sugar to deserving women.

Voros first met DuVernay when they served together on an international film festival jury. The two struck up a rapport, with DuVernay reaching out to Voros about a year-plus later with an offer to direct an episode of Queen Sugar. Without Queen Sugar, Voros doubts that studio and network decision-makers would have let her direct Yellowstone and then its prequel, 1883. It was Taylor Sheridan, co-creator of Yellowstone and creator of 1883, who went to bat for Voros as a director for both series.

As for Marsalis, Queen Sugar marked her first TV directing gig. She had earlier directed the indie feature Echo Park on a shoestring budget, which went on to make a splash at the L.A. Film Festival and shortly thereafter was acquired by DuVernay’s company ARRAY. Later Marsalis got the chance to direct episodes of Queen Sugar

Thanks in part to Echo Park and Queen Sugar, Marsalis got the opportunity to direct for Ozark, the first go-around being the season 2 finale, then a season 3 episode, and most recently multiple episodes for season 4. 

Even with Echo Park and Queen Sugar under her belt, Marsalis felt that the decision-makers at Ozark, including actor-director-EP Jason Bateman and showrunner-writer Chris Mundy, took “a leap of faith” when they offered her the high-profile season two finale. Marsalis proved to be up to the task, justifying the trust placed in her as the season two finale gained critical acclaim.

And it feels somehow fitting for Marsalis to help wrap the series, directing four of the episodes released in part two of the current and final season. Now she’s in the Emmy mix for that marquee work.

Robert Goldrich is an editor with SHOOTonline

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