During the past year of virtual awards shows, we haven’t often had a poignant moment to really pause, reflect, and be moved.
That emotional moment came tonight during the DGA’s streamed 73rd ceremony when Ava DuVernay recognized industry icon Paris Barclay with the guild’s Honorary Life Member Award.
The DGA and Oscar nominated DuVernay named the former DGA President from 2014-2017 “someone who was always the first to stand alone in several categories and who did not use this position to celebrate himself, but doors for the second, the third to open up and the hundreds of us who followed him: the black directors, the LBTQ directors, the directors who were seen as different; pushed and left at the edges the edges. Paris is at the center and welcomes us all. “
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DuVernay remembered the first time she saw Barclay working as a young publicist on the set of City of Angels: “I would watch him do his thing; When I ran the show, I’d never seen anything like it. Total control with flexibility at the same time. Amiable with enthusiasm, mindful, but with Moxie. And I wrote it down. “
Barclay was the DGA’s first African-American and openly gay president. During his three-year tenure, he tripled the streaming residuals for members and was the driving force behind new inclusion programs, including the Director Development Initiative and the TV Director Mentorship program.
“These things are important, they make a difference,” said DuVernay. ”
Accepting the honor, Barclay said, “To receive a reward given to DW Griffith for the first time in 1938, it says a lot about how far this guild has come in just a few generations.”
Barclay took the opportunity during his acceptance speech to address his two sons back home about his passion for the DGA and said: “Cyrus and William, the great philosopher Michael B. Jordan – you know, from Creed and Black Panther – once said: “When personal purpose and meaning are matched, you can be a man. ‘I thought my goal was to be a director, a producer, a writer, a professional distractor, a builder, but I became a man when I realized that everything had to have meaning. I found this importance first in protecting the families I had worked with and later in discovering that I could help protect all guild members. I learned that because the guild was always protecting me in the beginning. “
“Outside of the guild, I’ve used my work and position to advocate for justice in different organizations with different series and shows,” Barclay continued.
“So guys, if you guys are men, I hope you guys are men on purpose too, whether with a camera or with insects. And because you are black men and you grew up in a world that is increasingly hostile to you, you just need to be stronger because of the color of your skin. You have to be smarter. And you have to be more careful. Unfortunately, these are just the facts. But you won’t be alone. So take a look around and, despite the horror of the news, you know that there are more people who love than hate. So take every opportunity to join them, support them, encourage them to protect them, even if it is a personal sacrifice. You have to find your own guild. Your own collection of people who are committed to making their piece of the world better. You might not get a big award, but honestly, as grateful as I am, it’s not about people applauding you and thanking you. It’s about your applauding, thanking, and serving them. “
In the years following Barclay’s presidency, he assumed numerous other guild leadership roles, including co-chairing the Television Creative Rights Committee, head of the DGA’s Producer / Director Workshop, and one of the creators of the DGA’s episodic television director orientation program. Most recently, Barclay was co-chair of the Covid-19 Committee on Safety and Return to Work.
In 2007 the Guild recognized him with the DGA Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award for his history of service to the organization, which began shortly after becoming a member in 1992. His service on the guild’s national board spanned more than two decades, including several terms as 1st and 3rd Vice Presidents, as well as serving on the Western Directors Council. He is a founding member and former co-chair of the Diversity Task Force, former chair and long-time member of the PAC Leadership Council, and former co-chair of the African American Steering Committee.