Ava DuVernay

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Ava DuVernay
AFI Film Festival 2010
Born Ava Marie DuVernay
Long Beach, California, United States
Occupation Filmmaker, screenwriter, marketer
Years active 1999 – present

Ava Marie DuVernay is an American filmmaker, marketer and film distributor. At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay became the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere.[1][2][3][4]


Attended University of California, Los Angeles.

Film marketing[edit]

DuVernay formed The DuVernay Agency, later known as DVA Media + Marketing, in 1999. The award-winning marketing and publicity firm has provided strategy and execution for more than 100 film and television projects by directors such as Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Bill Condon, Raoul Peck and Gurinder Chadha.


Career beginnings[edit]

In 2008, DuVernay made her feature directorial debut with the documentary, This Is the Life, a history of LA's Good Life Cafe's arts movement.

In 2010, she directed several network music documentaries, including My Mic Sounds Nice for BET Networks and the Essence Music Festival 2010 for TV One.

In 2011, DuVernay's first narrative feature film, I Will Follow, a drama starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, was released theatrically. Roger Ebert championed the film, stating, "'I Will Follow' is one of the best films I've seen about coming to terms with the death of loved one."[5][6] I Will Follow was an official selection of AFI Fest, Pan-African Film Festival, Urbanworld and Chicago International Film Festival.

In the summer of 2011, DuVernay began production on her second feature film, Middle of Nowhere. The film was acquired by AFFRM and Participant Media at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it played in U.S. Dramatic Competition and garnered the Best Director Award for DuVernay, the first African-American to ever win the prize. DuVernay also won the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for her work on the film.

Current work[edit]

In 2013 DuVernay partnered with Miu Miu as part of their ad campaign Women's Tales.[7] Her short film The Door starred actress Gabrielle Union and reunited DuVernay with her Middle of Nowhere star Emayatzy Corinealdi. The film was later presented at the 70th Venice International Film Festival.[8]

She also became the inaugural recipient of the Tribeca Film Institute's Heineken Affinity Award receiving a $20,000 prize and industry support for future projects. DuVernay donated all the money to the black arthouse film collective known as AFFRM.[9]

In June of that year, DuVernay was invited to both the director's and writer's branches of AMPAS.[10] DuVernay was only the second black woman, following Kasi Lemmons, to be invited to the director's branch.

A documentary produced and directed by DuVernay commissioned by ESPN for their film series Nine for IX on Venus Williams fight for equal prize money entitled Venus Vs. aired July 2, 2013.[11]

In July, it was announced that DuVernay would direct episode 3.08 of Scandal later titled "Vermont is for Lovers Too".[12]

In August DuVernay released a second short film through Vimeo entitled Say Yes.[13] The film was sponsored by cosmetic brand Fashion Fair and starred Kali Hawk and Lance Gross. Julie Dash, Victoria Mahoney, Lorraine Toussaint and Issa Rae appeared as extras in the film.

DuVernay has taken over the directing duties of Selma, the Martin Luther King Jr., Lyndon Johnson, and 1965 Selma to Montgomery march feature project. She replaced Lee Daniels, who left the project, which is being produced by Plan B.[14] The movie is set to be released on Christmas of 2014.[15]

Future projects[edit]

In 2013 she also announced development on a narrative feature film entitled Part of the Sky set in Compton.[16]

Film distribution[edit]

On January 7, 2011, an article entitled "Building An Alliance To Aid Films By Blacks" by Michael Cieply was published in The New York Times about DuVernay's effort to organize African-American film festivals and orchestrate theatrical releases for black independent films. The collective is called the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement or AFFRM. DuVernay's "I Will Follow" marked the first theatrical release of AFFRM on March 11, 2011. "I Will Follow" grossed a per-screen-average of $11,563, and expanded from five screens in five cities to 22 screens in 15 cities after its first weekend. AFFRM released the 2011 Sundance Audience Award winner "Kinyarwanda," on December 2, 2011. AFFRM released the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection "Restless City" by Andrew Dosunmu in April 2012. AFFRM releases Ava DuVernay's, "Middle of Nowhere," Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for Best Director, on October 12, 2012. In 2013, AFFRM has released Storm Saulter's "Better Mus' Come" and Neil Drumming's "Big Words." In 2014, AFFRM has so far released the BP Oil Spill documentary, "Vanishing Pearls" by Nailah Jefferson.


Year Film Role Notes
2014 Selma Director/Writer Feature Film
2013 Scandal Director Television Episode
2013 Say Yes for Fashion Fair Director/Writer Branded Short
2013 Venus VS. Director/Writer Television Documentary
2013 The Door for Prada Director/Writer Branded Short
2012 Middle of Nowhere Director/Writer Narrative Feature Film
2011 I Will Follow Director/Writer Narrative Feature Film
2010 My Mic Sounds Nice Director/Executive Producer Television Documentary
2010 Essence Music Festival '10 Director/Writer Television Documentary
2010 Faith Through the Storm Director/Writer Television Documentary
2008 This Is the Life Director/Producer Feature Documentary
2007 Compton in C Minor Director/Producer Short Documentary
2006 Saturday Night Life Director/Writer Narrative Short


  1. ^ Demby, Gene (2012-01-30). "Sundance 2012: Ava Duvernay Becomes First Black Woman To Win Best Director Prize For Middle Of Nowhere". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  2. ^ Brooks Barnes (2012-01-27). "Market for Films Signals Good, Not Great, Year for Sundance". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  3. ^ Manohla Dargis (2012-01-27). "Amazing Child, Typical Grown-Ups". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  4. ^ Kirsten West Savali (2012-01-29). "Straight Outta Compton: Ava Makes Black History At Sundance!". Newsone.com. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  5. ^ Roger Ebert. "Ebert Presents review of "I Will Follow"". Ebertpresents.com. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  6. ^ Roger Ebert (2011-03-08). "Chicago Sun-Times review of "I Will Follow"". The Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  7. ^ http://www.miumiu.com/en/women_tales/5/film
  8. ^ Rothe, E. Nina (2013-08-30). "Best of Venice 70: "Miu Miu Women's Tales" - The Door and Le Donne della Vucciria". Huffington Post. 
  9. ^ http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/tribeca-film-institutes-inaugural-heineken-affinity-award-goes-to-ava-duvernay-20-000-industry-support#
  10. ^ http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2013/20130628.html
  11. ^ http://espn.go.com/espnw/nine-for-ix/8948839/nine-ix-film-summary-director-venus-vs
  12. ^ http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/ava-duvernay-will-direct-an-episode-of-scandal-next-season
  13. ^ http://shine.forharriet.com/2013/08/ava-duvernay-celebrates-beauty-of-black.html
  14. ^ OBENSON, TAMBAY. "Huge! Ava DuVernay Tapped By Brad Pitt's Plan B To Take Over Lee Daniels' 'Selma'". Indie Wire. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  15. ^ http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/ava-duvernays-selma-enters-oscar-race-sets-christmas-day-release-20140620
  16. ^ http://affinity.strutta.com/entry/1205618

External links[edit]