Ava DuVernay – A leader of Hope

The emergence of Ava DuVernay as a producer and filmmaker has been one of the great developments of the past several years. Whether in scripted features, television or documentaries, her unique voice, skill and passion have inspired countless audiences throughout our country and around the world.

DuVernay’s collective includes a nonprofit called Array Alliance, which funds programs and educational events that promotes social impact and gives a leg up to women and nonwhite filmmakers; a for-profit distribution company to acquire and release mission-oriented independent movies that might not otherwise be released; and a private production company — whose crew is over 50 percent women — which is already receiving recognition for shows like Netflix’s When They See Us and Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary 13th (about race problems in America) as well as Oprah Winfrey’s Queen Sugar.

Though each entity operates independently, they share a common mission: first, to break down Hollywood legacy systems that make it difficult for women and artists of color to succeed, and second, to provide a creative platform for social justice.

''We have to find new ways to work without permission, new ways to turn corners and go through doors that are closed off to us to create our own audiences and our own material independently.'' – Ava Duvernay

Although DuVernay’s early and current works share many commonalities, one in particular withstands the test of time: race and prejudice. Aside from the obvious civil rights theme in Selma, DuVernay has written and directed films with a large focus on the themes of race and inequality.

The documentary is centered on the issue of race in the United States criminal justice system, and is aptly named after the 13th amendment to the Constitution which prohibited slavery. DuVernay argues in the film that slavery is being perpetrated through the mass incarceration of individuals of color.

She announced two more film projects besides A Wrinkle in Time: a story called Part of the Sky which is set Compton. She is also said to be writing and directing a film on the social and environmental effects of Hurricane Katrina, and the creation of AFFRM (African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement) to which she dedicates most of her efforts.

DuVernay created the film distribution company to ensure that films made by or focusing on black people had the opportunity to be seen by larger audiences. Although it is a business, DuVernay constantly stresses that the main driver of AFFRM is activism.

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