Ava DuVernay : A Visionary.

With an extremely successful and growing filmography, Ava DuVernay sets the precedent for victories in the industry for both African Americans and women. Having won over 15 prestigious awards, DuVernay continuously inspires others to get their foot in the door when it comes to directing and producing. Focusing exclusively on making sure representation is a priority, not only has she gained respect for her directing but also her activism. DuVernay has become a voice for today’s generation through a combination of inspiring media projects and effective voice on social media platforms.


So why has Ava DuVernay had such success breaking into the film industry? From being the first African American female to budget $100 million for her colossal and ambitious youth fantasy film A Wrinkle In Time, or the first Black Woman to win Best Director at the prestigious Sundance Festival with the sensitive, potent drama Middle Of Nowhere – DuVernay continues to trailblaze her way to the top. The most influential trait about DuVernay has to be her heavy focus on giving a voice to the underrepresented, especially in regards to racial injustices and gender equality. A significant example is her victorious 2019 Netflix Original mini series: When They See Us.

When They See Us, is a series based on the mistreatment of the famously named quintet of Black male teenagers ‘Central Park Five’ and their horrific mistreatment by the American justice system. Written and produced by Duvernay, it is reported as:

“Netflix’s most-watched program since its May 31 release, viewed by more than 23 million accounts worldwide at the time of publication”

Paul, D, Washington Post, 2019.

Ava was praised massively for this series, not only for her depth of humanizing the teenage boys who were previously condemned over something they didn’t do –  but for her fantastic relationship with her cast and the real life ‘Central Park Five’ themselves. Raymond Santana, one of the subjects said in an interview for the New York Times, that he had seen her previous work, particularly Selma(2015) and appreciated that she included a scene of Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King having a confrontational conversation on MLK’s affairs. He exclaims respect for DuVernay’s bravery when including situations about a man who is so iconic, this gave him reassurance that she would not be afraid to shine from the truth when discussing the inequitable actions from the NYPD.

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Ava DuVernay continues to make racial injustices apparent in her filmography from personal experiences such as When They See Us or taking a look at historical periods and educating today’s generation with documentaries and critically acclaimed event movies. Her partnership with Netflix for the documentary 13th allowed her cherished reputation of storytelling of the hardship of racial inequities to continue, constantly educating the public about how the 13th Amendment led to mass incarceration in the US, but it’s also an evocative exploration of their power, their roots and their permanence. In 13th, DuVernay includes interviews with many distinguished civil rights leaders, politicians, scholars and activists, together with prominent opponents. Ava’s diverse range of voices adds a level of complexity and makes the documentary more engaging. In addition she speaks upon the racial hegemony in America and the comparison with the current Black Lives Matter movement. By juxtaposing clips of slaves with extracts from Birth Of A Nation she shows the obvious injustices still apparent in today’s society. This piercing, Oscar-nominated documentary from DuVernay won Best Documentary at the Emmys, BAFTAs and NAACP Image Awards.

One of the things I value about Netflix is that it distributes black work  far/wide. 190 countries will get WHEN THEY SEE US. Here's a promo for South  Africa. I've had just
DuVernay expresses her respect for Netflix in regards to 13th, 2019.

Ava DuVernay continues to make racial injustices apparent in her filmography from personal experiences such as When They See Us or taking a look at historical periods and educating today’s generation with documentaries and critically acclaimed event movies. Her partnership with Netflix for the documentary 13th allowed her cherished reputation of storytelling of the hardship of racial inequities to continue, constantly educating the public about how the 13th Amendment led to mass incarceration in the US, but it’s also an evocative exploration of their power, their roots and their permanence. In 13th, DuVernay includes interviews with many distinguished civil rights leaders, politicians, scholars and activists, together with prominent opponents. Ava’s diverse range of voices adds a level of complexity and makes the documentary more engaging. In addition she speaks upon the racial hegemony in America and the comparison with the current Black Lives Matter movement. By juxtaposing clips of slaves with extracts from Birth Of A Nation she shows the obvious injustices still apparent in today’s society. This piercing, Oscar-nominated documentary from DuVernay won Best Documentary at the Emmys, BAFTAs and NAACP Image Awards.

Tony Bard Write: 13th, Ava DuVernay

Whilst not only focusing on racial inclusivity, DuVernay has gone above and beyond to help others in younger generations who have fewer opportunities get their foot in the door in regards to the film industry; one that continues to be enthralled with white males. DuVernay founded a non-profit film collective named Array, now in its ninth year and named one of Fast Company’s most innovative companies, Array Alliance expands on the deep roots in independent film through special programming aimed in relation to impactful, comprehensive initiatives. As well as this, DuVernay with the help from Dan Lin and the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti co-created the Evolve Entertainment Fund, this is significant as it gives people in underserved communities a chance to open a new opportunity to chase their dreams in Hollywood. As a result, DuVernay also spoke upon her beliefs that “every room we inhabit needs to look like the real world” allowing more meaning to the idea that the industry needs to reflect the lives and races of everyone and not just white people. Following this she announced she is opening a headquarters for Array Entertainment in the same area as other white owned high profile distributors.

“I’m not going to continue knocking that old door that doesn’t open for me. I’m going to create my own door and walk through that.”

Ava DuVernay on making your own way, 2019.
Ava DuVernay Says Studios Don't Offer Her Genre Films Because She's A Woman

Ava DuVernay continues to be a voice for all Black people through film, and amplifies her voice to all women directors across the globe, making her trailblazing innovative experiences one for everyone to resonate with and enjoy which has led her to be rewarded in many ways. For example, DuVernay was named one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest World Leaders and TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, she also sits on the boards of both Sundance Institute and Film Independent. I think with great expertise, amazing role model skills and such a passion for activism through her social media presence – DuVernay will continue to thrive throughout the film industry as she follows her own motto to “work without permission”.

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