Ava DuVernay


Director Ava DuVernay at the ‘Selma’ and the Legends Who Paved the Way Gala

Ava DuVernay is successful and innovative director who has been making cinema history for African-American women since 2012 with films like Middle of Nowhere and Selma.

DuVernay grew up in Long Beach, California with four siblings. She spent many childhood summers in Hayneville, Alabama, a small town near Selma. She received a BA in English and African-American Studies from UCLA. After briefly working in broadcast journalism and public relations, she made her first film, This Is the Life, in 2008. The documentary shared the history of LA’s Good Life Cafe, which was a popular spot for independent hip hop artists to perform their work.

Her 2011 narrative film I Will Follow, about a woman dealing with the loss of her aunt, garnered acclaim from critics like Roger Ebert and was selected for numerous film festivals. DuVernay’s screenplay and direction were nominated for several awards, including the award for Best Screenplay at the African-American Film Critics Association, which she won.

Middle of Nowhere, DuVernay’s film about a medical student whose husband is sentenced to eight years in prison, received even more praise than the last. The movie was nominated for 27 awards and won 10, including the Directing Award at Sundance Film Festival, making DuVernay the first African-American woman to win the award.

DuVernay’s success continued on into 2014 with her biggest film yet, Selma. The historical drama tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. Selma was nominated for a whopping 83 awards, winning 36. DuVernay became the first black woman to be nominated for the Golden Globe award for Best Director, and while she was not nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, she was the first black woman to have her film nominated for Best Picture.

She is reported to be working on a narrative feature film about the effects of Hurricane Katrina, once again collaborating with Selma’s David Oyelowo. We look forward to all of Ms. DuVernay’s future work as she continues to make history.