Sunday, 8 November 2015


BLACK   SOCIAL   HISTORY                                                                                                                                             Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay in January 2015 at Sirius XM
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay at Sirius XM studio in New York on January 2015.
BornAva Marie DuVernay
August 24, 1972 (age 43)
Los Angeles, California
Alma materUCLA
OccupationDirector, screenwriter, Film marketer, film distributor
Years active1999–present
Notable workSelma
Home townCompton, California
Parent(s)Darlene Maye
Murray Maye
Ava Marie DuVernay (born August 24, 1972) is an American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. At the 2012Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay won the Best Director Prize for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere,[1][2][3][4] becoming the first African-American woman to win the award.[5][6] For her work in Selma, DuVernay is the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award.[7][8] With Selma, she is also the first black female director to have their film nominated for theAcademy Award for Best Pic

  • BLACK 



Early life]

DuVernay was born in Long Beach, California, to mother Darlene Maye, an educator.[9] DuVernay is the oldest of the five children. DuVernay grew up in Lynwood, California[10]and Compton, California.[11][12][13] DuVernay's father, Murray Maye, a businessman, is from Hayneville, Alabama, a small town between Montgomery and Selma.[11][14][15]DuVernay spent summers in Hayneville.[16] DuVernay said that these summers in Alabama influenced the making of Selma, as her father saw the Selma to Montgomery marchesas a small child.[11][17]
DuVernay attended Saint Joseph High School, where she graduated in 1990.[18] She graduated with a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1995, where she double-majored in English and African-American studies.[13]


While in college DuVernay became interested in broadcast journalism. While an intern for CBS News, she was assigned to help cover the O.J. Simpson murder trial. She became disillusioned with journalism, and decided to switch to publicity.[10][19][20]

Public relations

After graduation, she worked as a publicist.[19] DuVernay worked at FOXSavoy Pictures[15] and other public relations firms for four years before forming her own agency, The DuVernay Agency, later known as DVA Media + Marketing, in 1999.[5] The award-winning marketing and publicity firm has provided strategy and execution for more than 100 film and television projects by directors such as Steven SpielbergClint EastwoodMichael MannRobert RodriguezKevin SmithBill CondonRaoul Peck and Gurinder Chadha.


In 2008, DuVernay made her feature directorial debut with the documentary This Is the Life, a history of LA's Good Life Cafe's arts movement. DuVernay began with documentaries because they can be done on a smaller budget than a feature film, and she could learn the trade while doing so.[21]
In 2011, DuVernay's first narrative feature film, I Will Follow, a drama starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, was released theatrically. DuVernay's aunt Denise Sexton was the inspiration for the film.[5][13][22] DuVernay made the film in 15 days with her own money: DuVernay "kept costs under $50,000 by staying in one location."[13] Roger Ebert called it "one of the best films I've seen about coming to terms with the death of a loved one."[23][24] I Will Follow was an official selection of AFI FestPan-African Film Festival, Urbanworld and Chicago International Film Festival.
In the summer of 2011, DuVernay began production on her second feature film, Middle of Nowhere. The film was acquired by AFFRM and Participant Media at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it played in U.S. Dramatic Competition and garnered the Best Director Award for DuVernay, the first African-American woman to ever win the prize. DuVernay also won the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for her work on the film.
ESPN commissioned DuVernay to produce and direct Venus Vs., a documentary on Venus Williamsfight for equal prize money for their film series Nine for IX, which aired on July 2, 2013.[25]


DuVernay directed Selma, a $20 million budget film produced by Plan B Entertainment, about Martin Luther King Jr.Lyndon Johnson, and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march.[26] The movie was released on December 25, 2014.[27]
There was significant controversy about Selma and its depiction of Lyndon Johnson's actions as portrayed in the film.[28][29] Former Johnson domestic policy aide Joseph A. Califano, Jr. criticized DuVernay for ignoring and falsifying history, and particularly for suggesting that Johnson reluctantly supported King's efforts and that he set the FBI to investigate King.[30] For the film she did uncredited re-writes of most of the original screenwriter Paul Webb's script with an increased emphasis on King and the people of Selma as central figures.[31][32] In response to the criticisms of historians and media sources that accused her of irresponsibly rewriting history to portray her own agenda, DuVernay pointed out that the film is "not a documentary. I'm not a historian. I'm a storyteller".[33]
The film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Song, but not Best Director, by the Academy Awards. While the lack of diversity of the Oscar nominations for 2014 was the subject of much press,[34] especially on Twitter,[35] the film of the only person of color that was nominated for the 87th Academy Awards, Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, ended up taking top honors in three categories at the February 2015 87th Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. The award for Best Original Song went to "Glory" from Selma.[36][37] DuVernay stated that she had not expected to be nominated so the omission didn't really bother her; rather she was hurt by actor David Oyelowo not being nominated. As to the question of racial diversity of awards, she stated that the obstacles to people of color being represented in the Academy Awards were systemic.[35]


DuVernay directed episode 3.08 of Scandal which was called "Vermont is For Lovers, Too".[38]

Future projects

In 2013, she announced development on a narrative feature film entitled Part of the Sky set in Compton.[39]
In 2015, it was announced that DuVernay would be writing, producing, and directing her next project, a fictional account which will focus on the "social and environmental" aspects of Hurricane Katrina while including a love story and a murder mystery.[40] David Oyelowo, from Selma, will be part of the project.[41]
In 2015, DuVernay created and executive produced alongside Oprah Winfrey the upcoming drama series, Queen Sugar, which is set to air on Oprah Winfrey Network.[42][43]
In 2015, DuVernay will also executive produce and direct CBS civil rights crime drama pilot For Justice starring Anika Noni Rose.[44]

Other work

Film distribution

On January 7, 2011, an article entitled "Building An Alliance To Aid Films By Blacks" by Michael Cieply was published in The New York Times about DuVernay's effort to organize African-American film festivals and orchestrate theatrical releases for black independent films.[54] The organization she created is called ARRAY (was formerly known as African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM)) and it has released the following films:
  • March 2011: DuVernay's I Will Follow
    • Grossed a per-screen-average of $11,563, and expanded from five screens in five cities to 22 screens in 15 cities after its first weekend
  • December 2011: Kinyarwanda
    • 2011 Sundance Audience Award-winner
  • April 2012: Restless City by Andrew Dosunmu
    • 2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection
  • October 2012: DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere
    • Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for Best Director
  • 2013: Storm Saulter's Better Mus' Come and Neil Drumming's Big Words
  • 2014: BP Oil Spill documentary Vanishing Pearls by Nailah Jefferson and 25 To Life by Mike L. Brown
African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement's approach to distribution includes the incorporation of a grassroots collective of local Black film organizations who assist with local marketing and venue booking, as well as local publicity of AFFRM's films. The organizations include:

Artistry and influences

DuVernay has cited Haile GerimaJulie Dash and Charles Burnett as her influences as a filmmaker.[61] DuVernay notes that while female directors are rare, black female filmmakers are rarer still – "a small sorority".[62]

Personal life

DuVernay resides in Los Angeles, California.[11]


TBDQueen SugarCreator, executive producer, writer and director
2014SelmaDirector/Co-writerAfrican-American Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Black Film Critics Award for Best Director
Black Reel Award for Best Director
Nominated–Independent Spirit Award for Best Director
Nominated–Satellite Award for Best Director
Nominated–Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Nominated–Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Nominated–Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Director
Nominated–NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Director
Nominated–Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Director for Best Director
Nominated–Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
2013ScandalDirectorEpisode: "Vermont is For Lovers, Too"
2013Say Yes for Fashion FairDirector/WriterBranded Short
2013Venus Vs.Director/WriterTelevision Documentary
2013The Door for PradaDirector/WriterBranded Short
2012Middle of NowhereDirector/WriterU.S. Directing Award: Dramatic (2012 Sundance Film Festival)
2011I Will FollowDirector/WriterNarrative Feature Film
2010My Mic Sounds NiceDirector/Executive ProducerTelevision Documentary
2010Essence Music Festival '10Director/WriterTelevision Documentary
2010Faith Through the StormDirector/WriterTelevision Documentary
2008This Is the LifeDirector/ProducerFeature Documentary
2007Compton in C MinorDirector/ProducerShort Documentary
2006Saturday Night LifeDirector/WriterNarrative Short

Awards, nominations, honors

  • In June 2013, she was invited to both the director's and writer's branches of AMPAS.[63] DuVernay was only the second black woman, following Kasi Lemmons, to be invited to the director's branch.
  • Duvernay became the inaugural recipient of the Tribeca Film Institute's Heineken Affinity Award, receiving a $20,000 prize and industry support for future projects. DuVernay donated all the money to the black arthouse film collective she founded known as AFFRM

  • In June 2015, Duvernay will be honored as part of Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards with the Dorothy Arzner Directors Award.[65][66]

2011African-American Film CriticsBest ScreenplayI Will FollowWon
2012Black Reel AwardsBest ScreenplayNominated
Best DirectorNominated
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Independent Motion PictureNominated
Sundance Film FestivalDirecting AwardMiddle of NowhereWon
Grand Jury PrizeNominated
Film Independent Spirit AwardsIndependent Spirit John Cassavetes AwardWon
Humanitas PrizeSundance FilmNominated
African-American Film CriticsBest Independent FilmWon
Best ScreenplayWon
Best PictureNominated
Alliance of Women Film JournalistsBest Woman ScreenwriterNominated
Women Film Critics CircleJosephine Baker AwardWon
2013Black Reel AwardsBest DirectorWon
Best ScreenplayWon
Best FilmNominated
Gotham AwardsBest FeatureNominated
2014Online Film Critics Society AwardBest DirectorSelmaNominated
Black Film Critics CircleBest DirectorWon[67]
Central Ohio Film Critics AssociationBest DirectorWon
Breakthrough Film ArtistWon
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association AwardBest DirectorNominated
Georgia Film Critics AssociationBest DirectorNominated
Breakthrough AwardNominated
Golden Globe AwardBest DirectorNominated
Alliance of Women Film JournalistsBest DirectorNominated
Best Woman DirectorWon
Female Icon of the YearWon
Critics' Choice Movie AwardsBest DirectorNominated
Satellite AwardsBest DirectorNominated
Film Independent Spirit AwardsBest DirectorNominated