SHE WORKS: Ava DuVernay Is A One-Woman-Film-Making Army

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Title: Film Maker, Director, Writer, Marketer & Distributor

Education: University Of California, Los Angeles

Specialty: Perfecting being a “Jill” of all trades when it comes to film.

Previous Job Experience: Previously, 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, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann and Bill Condon.

“I don’t think you have to always be one thing. We’re all ever-evolving. Folks that like to do a number of different things,” Ava DuVernay stated, almost explaining herself to a T, while talking about the people who can’t just put all their talented eggs all in one career basket.

As a one woman army, DuVernay writes, directs, produces and distributes her own films through AaFFRM, which is the is the African American Film Festival Release Movement.

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“It’s basically a Farmer’s Market to Hollywood’s supermarket, you know hand-grown fruit at the Farmer’s Market, hand-grown film. It’s a bunch of arts advocates from all over the country–Reel Black in Philly, Urbanworld in New York, Langston Hughes in Seattle and more. They work to actually distribute films on the same day. We’re doing what a studio does, but we’re just regular folk. We do all the grassroots organizing, advertising, marketing, publicizing to get the film out there.”

Check Out Ava DuVernay’s Opinion On Being A “Jill” Of All Trades, Balancing Work & Life & More:

Ava is a multitasking genius. Her job isn’t to wear one hat; it’s to change said hats almost as often as she changes her mind. The old cliche, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” doesn’t apply here. As a matter of fact, Ava masters everything she does, organically.

As Ava worked as in public relations, at her own agency (The Ava DuVernay Agency-DVA), she developed an interest in film-making.”I did publicity for 13 years and then I started making my shorts and documentaries about four years ago.” What a different four years makes!

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Instead of enrolling in film school, Ava decided to take matters into her own hands, literally. She started making short films over the weekends to play with the camera and to see if she “liked it.” And from liking the camera to writing scripts, Ava’s journey as a filmmaker became an organic path to the rest of her life.

“It’s like one thing spearheaded another. And it’s been very organic, which is what makes me feel like this is the right path,” Ava says of her career’s progress. “I loved marketing, publicizing other people’s work, but I decided to to create my own work.”

Her first film project was “This Is The Life,” a documentary about the festival circuit and hip-hop on the West Coast, featuring Ava’s friends. It was that documentary that caught the eye of BET and they contacted Ava about doing a documentary about women in hip-hop, so “My Mic Sounds Nice” was born. TV One saw “My Mic Sounds Nice” and asked Ava to do the Essence Music Festival, but she wanted to make a film with actors.

Keeping with the organic theme of Ava’s life, she picked up the pen and wrote the script for her first film (with actors), “I Will Follow” in six weeks. After four years of film making, Ava’s become a beacon of light for Black voices in film making, which has created a new chapter in Black cinema.

It’s Ava’s hard work and intense passion that drives her to be one of the most multifaceted women I’ve ever met. Her ability to master various aspects of her beautifully blossomed career is admirable and certainly worth imitating!

More On Ava DuVernay:

Ava DuVernay’s “Middle Of Nowhere” Explores The Life Of A Complicated Black Woman

Ava DuVernay Makes History As The First Black Woman To Win “U.S. Drama Directing” Award

Listen To This Ava DuVernay-Inspired Playlist!

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