March is Women’s History Month and we’re celebrating 31 different women over the month, spanning the worlds of entertainment, politics, local, global and beyond. Entry number 14 on our list is one of the women in Hollywood showcasing our stories, whether it be in the form of documentaries, feature films and more. Always looking to shine a light on the marginalized among us, this particular woman was the first black female director nominated for the Academy Award of Best Documentary Feature in 2017 and has made strides not only amplifying the voices of female directors but black men and children as well. She is Ava DuVernay, the visionary and one of our 31 inspiring women.
Ava DuVernay‘s story is one that there is no exact age you have to reach in order to find your passion or make it. Years after graduating from UCLA, the Compton born DuVernay tried her hand at filmmaking in 2007. Crafting a 12-minute short titled Saturday Night Life, it was in dedication to her mother as she spotlighted a single mother with three children taking her children to the grocery store. Who knew that some seven years later, her first major feature film would be nominated for Best Picture at the 87th Academy Awards?
DuVernay became the first Black woman to helm a film with a budget of $100 million with 2018’s A Wrinkle In Time, a year after she was nominated for Best Documentary Film when she created 13th, a film centered around how the 13th amendment may not have fully led to the abolishment of slavery but rather established the prison industrial complex and focused it mainly on black and brown bodies.
It’s not just the big screen when it comes to DuVernay making changes across the board. When she was announced as the show runner for OWN’s Queen Sugar, she decided to have all women direct each and every episode of the show. Much like everything she’s touched, it’s been critically acclaimed and then some. Not bad for a woman who didn’t pick up a camera to film and shape the world in her eyes until she was 33.
FUN FACT: For all of her work, DuVernay is the first for a number of awards. She’s the first Black woman to win the award for Best Director at Sundance, the first black director to be nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes and the first Black woman to have her film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
QUOTE: “Creativity is an energy. It’s a precious energy, and it’s something to be protected. A lot of people take for granted that they’re a creative person, but I know from experience, feeling it in myself, it is a magic; it is an energy. And it can’t be taken for granted.”
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