Ava DuVernay went from being a Hollywood publicist to a director of award-winning films, proving that no matter how far you think the leap might be from one point in your life to another, it’s always possible.
After changing her path and becoming a director, DuVernay went on to become the first African American woman to win Best Director at Sundance Film Festival just one year after directing her first feature film. From there, she directed the Oscar-winning film Selma, Oscar-nominated documentary 13th, and became the highest grossing African American female director in box office history.
And she isn’t just about blazing a trail for herself. Rutina Wesley says of DuVernay, “She has literally kicked open the door for female directors.” DuVernay makes it a habit to only hire female directors for her series Queen Sugar. Her organization Array is dedicated to the amplification of indie films by people of color and female film makers. She also is dedicated to telling stories Hollywood has ignored. She’s a trailblazer in literally every single sense.
Watch the video below to see what her friends and colleagues have to say about Miss DuVernay.
And if you thought that was inspiring, just wait until you hear her acceptance speech.
She says, “I was 32 the first time I picked up a camera; that’s ancient in film years. I’m black, I’m a woman, I never went to film school. Where did the audacity come from to say, ’I can do this. I can make films. This dream is mine?'”
It’s all thanks to her mother who taught her “to be fearless” and that her “flaws were her gifts.” It’s her mother that inspired her to make films about fearless, gorgeous, courageous and brave women.”
She hopes that a little girl sees her and her fellow honorees like Nancy Pelosi, Tarana Burke and Margaret Atwood and one day realizes that all of her dreams are possible.
Okay, now I’m crying. Watch the whole acceptance speech above!