DETERMINED: Ava DuVernay
IN AN interview with The Voice, critically acclaimed film director Ava DuVernay said she is happy to be seen as a role model for those inspired by her career journey.
DuVernay didn’t start directing films until she was 32, yet the Selma director has gone on to become the first black woman to direct a $100 million (£716,000) movie.
Speaking at the press launch of her new film A Wrinkle In Time, a fantasy adventure which stars Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, she said: “I’m happy to be considered a role model. I just want to be someone where you can say, ‘Look at her – she did it, so maybe I can do it too’.
“I didn’t pick up a camera until I was 32 years-old and a lot of people get into careers and think they’re stuck in something and that they’re too old to change, or don’t have enough money to change but you just have to step out, take a risk and force yourself to be brave.”
She continued: “That’s what this film is about. It’s a girl who is depressed, isolated and angry and she has to step out in faith and be brave and find a place in her life that’s more loving. I think following your dreams is a loving thing to do and a radical thing to do because if you do it, it means you really love yourself.”
DuVernay’s story is an inspiring one. When she started directing she made documentaries while holding on to her day job in public relations.
Despite not attending film school, her practical experience from her work as a film publicist, to listening to film commentary on some of her favourite movies, emphasises the importance of practical experience and utilising different forms of education — from internships to apprenticeships — to attain success, while noting that it is never too late to follow your dreams.
It was her first feature film, I Will Follow eight years ago that changed the trajectory of her career as she began to believe in the possibilities of taking filmmaking to new heights.
After directing critically acclaimed films such as the historical film drama Selma about the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights march and the documentary 13th, the director has taken on A Wrinkle In Time – a much-loved children’s book which follows the story of a teenager and her little brother travelling through space and time to find their father.
Being at the helm of the Disney production speaks of the respect DuVernay has achieved in the industry.
“The film is designed for kids, aged seven to 14 years-old, and if there is anything I want them to take away from it, it’s to dare to be yourself in a world where everyone is telling you to be something different,” DuVernay said.
“Can you dare to be yourself and step out and be the best you can be? That’s the message of the movie to me. So if kids can get that, then I am happy as we plant seeds in the minds of those who will grow up to be great adults.”
For the full interview with Ava DuVernay watch out for next week’s issue of The Voice Newspaper
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