Home / Fashion & Style / Ava DuVernay Looks Back at the Career Moments That Define Her

Ava DuVernay Looks Back at the Career Moments That Define Her

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1

Interns at CBS Evening News, 1994

“I was working on the O. J. Simpson case—a turning point in the way hard news integrated celebrity news. I wasn’t interested in that. It’s valuable to have those early experiences to learn what you don’t want.”

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2

Does Film PR, 1996

“I loved the strategy. To be able to think about the ways in which you can introduce various aspects of the story, the cast, the craft, and the themes to audiences bit by bit—through magazine coverage, events, television appearances, reviews. It really feels like a puzzle. And in the end, the audience will decide whether it was successful or not.”

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3

Founds Publicity Firm The DuVernay Agency, 1999

“My father asked me, ‘Why are you working for other people if you’re doing all the work?’ And I said, ‘Well, Pop, they bring in the movies to the agency, and I work the movies.’ He said, ‘I thought that you brought in those clients.’ And I said, ‘I did.’ He said, ‘How much are you being paid?’ I told him, and he said, ‘How much is the movie paying your agency?’ And I told him, and he just went, ‘Oh, okay,’ and walked away. I was like, ‘Damn. Whoa. Why am I doing this?’ So I opened my own agency.”

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4

Makes I Will Follow, 2010

“I made that film having never gone to film school. One of the biggest lessons I learned is to curate the people around you.”

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5

Writes and Directs Middle of Nowhere, 2012

“I kept my publicity job while making my first three films. I knew that as a black woman in this industry, I wouldn’t have people knocking down my door to give me money for my projects, so I was happy to make them on the side while working my day job.”

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6

Does The Call-In Podcast, 2013

“For people of color and women filmmakers, so often the questions we get asked are about being a woman or a person of color. So The Call-In was a space where we could just talk about craft.”

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7

CBS Pilot For Justice Isn’t Picked Up, 2015

“I was a director for hire. I enjoyed making it, so for me, it was still successful. And I got great relationships from it—it’s how I met the producer of my Central Park Five project [forthcoming from Netflix].”

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8

Passes on Directing Black Panther, 2015

“These projects are marriages. They are all-encompassing of your emotions for two years. I don’t take that lightly. If it’s not something I feel like I can keep myself motivated for, or I don’t feel it with my whole heart, then it’s not worth doing for any check or notoriety.”

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9

Makes Documentary 13th, 2016

“What I didn’t know before making 13th is the depth to which people don’t know things that I think are basic. That has given me an empathy that has been useful, especially around issues of race, culture, and identity.”

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10

Creates Queen Sugar, 2016–Present

“The television experience is an elongated type of storytelling that allows for so much exploration of narrative and character. I’ve found joy in the form.”

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11

Directs A Wrinkle in Time, 2018

“On a big-budget production, it’s hard to interview every person working on the film, but I make sure that department heads understand what I expect. If you hire people who are great, and those people hire 20 more people who are great, then you just get great.”

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12

Words of Wisdom

“As artists, we get the experience of making something and the experience of sharing it. Sometimes people don’t like it, but you can’t control that. The part you can control is how you feel making it.”

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