Ava DuVernay is an award-winning director, producer, writer, and distributor who has blazed a historic trail for women and people of color in the film industry. As a pioneering figure in entertainment today, she is using her platform to shine a light on minority communities that have long been overlooked or excluded from mainstream films.
Her story is inspiring and motivating as she has carved out her own space in Hollywood to tell stories that speak specifically to the African-American community while tackling crucial social justice issues.
Who is Ava DuVernay?
If you're unfamiliar with Ava DuVernay, you're missing out on one of the most influential voices in filmmaking today. An incredibly talented director, writer, and producer, DuVernay has earned critical acclaim for her films, including Selma, A Wrinkle in Time, and Middle of Nowhere. She was born in Long Beach, Calif., but spent summers traveling to her father's home in Alabama, telling 60 Minutes, “I'm interested in having people of color at the center of their own lives. We don't need to be saved by anyone. We do not have to have someone sweeping in on a white horse or someone saving the day or assisting us in our own narrative. So that's what that means.”
In 2014, she became the first African-American female director to have her work (Selma) shown at Sundance. Through her work, DuVernay constantly shines a light on issues often overlooked or ignored, giving a voice to the voiceless and uplifting those marginalized by society.
A Look at Ava DuVernay's Groundbreaking Career
Her career began in something other than filmmaking. An internship at CBS News inspired her to get into journalism. From there, she moved into public relations, leading her to start her PR firm, The DuVernay Agency, in 1999. Her marketing efforts centered on the entertainment industry and provided services to many movies and television shows. During this time, DuVernay grew to love filmmaking, and she took $6,000 and made her first film, Saturday Night Life, per Yale University. Ever since her first feature film in 2010, titled I Will Follow, she has been making waves in the industry.
Ava DuVernay is a trailblazer in Hollywood. She is the first African American woman to win Best Director at the Sundance Festival, be nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes, direct a film for a Best Director Oscar, and direct a film with a budget over $100 million. She has also been nominated for 16 Emmys. She is now the highest-grossing Black female director in box office history.
How She Tackles Social Justice Through Film
Her pioneering work in the industry has sparked essential conversations and shed light on topics often ignored in mainstream media. Her movies are hard-hitting and influential and leave a lasting impact on her audiences. DuVernay is committed to telling stories that need to be heard, shedding light on the experiences of marginalized communities, and addressing systemic issues.
Whether she's exploring the issue of mass incarceration in 13th, telling the story of the civil rights movement through Selma or bringing to light the story of the Central Park Five in When They See Us, DuVernay is using her platform to make a difference and inspire others to join the fight for social justice. She is a force to be reckoned with in filmmaking, and she embodies the phrase " Be the change that you want to see."