Woman Of The Week: Ava DuVernay

by: We Rise & Shine

Who is Ava DuVernay?

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of buzz in the media surrounding the writer, producer, director and distributor of independent film, Ava DuVernay.  Her recent film Selma, which is based on the historic march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama in 1965, has quickly garnered national acclaim and led her to be the first African-American female director to receive a Golden Globe nomination. 

DuVernay’s story began in California where she was born and raised, spending her summers in Hayneville, Alabama, the small town between Montgomery and Selma.  In 1995, she graduated with a B.A from the University of California, Los Angeles where she double-majored in English and African American studies.  After graduation, DuVernay worked as a film marketer and publicist for more than 14 years, forming DVA Media + Marketing in 1999.  Her award-winning firm provided strategy and execution for more than 120 film and television campaigns for acclaimed directors such as Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood.

DuVernay made her directorial debut with the 2008 hip hop documentary, "This is The Life."  The film debuted on Showtime in April 2009 and was the winner of Audience Awards in Toronto, Los Angeles and Seattle.  In 2010, she wrote, produced and directed her first narrative feature, "I Will Follow" and the following year she co-founded  African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AAFFRM), which empowers black independent filmmakers with collaborative, simultaneous theatrical distribution in multiple markets. 

In 2012, the filmmaker released her second feature Middle of Nowhere.  Following this release she won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and was honored with the 2013 John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award and the Tribeca Film Institute 2013 Affinity Award.  

DuVernay has also made her mark in television, directing the network documentaries "Venus Vs" for ESPN and "My Mic Sounds Nice" for BET, along with "John Legend Interludes Live," Essence Music Festival" and "Faith Through The Storm" for TV One.  A special tidbit for all the "gladiators" out there, in 2013, she directed an episode of ABC top-rated drama series, SCANDAL.  

Please be sure to support her film Selma, which is in theaters now!