If you blinked, you might have missed Ava DuVernay's glow-up from filmmaker to icon over the past decade and a half. As the first Black woman to be nominated for Best Director at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, Ava is making it a point to have way more than a seat at the table, she wants to own the whole building and fill it with black women.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the 47-year-old filmmaker's latest series with OWN, Cherish The Day, has achieved gender parity with a staff that is more than 50% female, 18 of which are department heads. On Instagram, Ava wrote:
"Please never let folks tell you it's not possible. 'We can't find women to do that job.' Nonsense. We achieved full gender parity on our new show CHERISH THE DAY with a production crew of over 50% women, including 18 lady department heads. Because we tried and made it so."
Although Ava has had her foot on the industry's neck all damn year, her recent successes are only part of her journey from intern to boss. Ava picked up her first camera at 32 and 15 years later, she's created a lane in her own image and we stan for a queen that is in divine alignment. Here are three things we can learn from Ava about the Art of Bossing Up that you can take to the bank:
Trust Your Vision At All Costs
Ava picked up a camera for the first time when she was 32, so what was that about you being too old to pursue your dreams?
Our visions are given to us to impact more than just ourselves, and Ava is a true testament to this fact. Thanks to her intuition to put down journalism and pick up filmmaking, she's been able to create open the door for other women who have been previously shut out of the industry due to finances or lack of opportunity:
"I'm really fortunate to be in a position now to make work that I love, with my own independent vision. And to have the kind of muscle to put it into the culture is a rarefied honor. It really is. Especially for someone that looks like me, someone that looks like us."
Ava says that even today when she is faced with feelings of anxiety or doubt, staying focused on her vision is always sobering.
"I thought, 'Let me go back and stand on the things that I know I can do and that I feel I do really well.' And I really had to hope that those things I've always relied on would be able to carry me through and prop me up and move me forward. And they did."
Fear Is Essential
Comfort zones are where dreams go to die, and Ava knows this well. That's why calling out the Oscars, the NYPD, and anyone else who wants smoke has never been a problem for this Cali OG. According to Ava, although she's seemingly fearless AF, she understands that having a little apprehension can be healthy:
"A healthy amount of fear is a good thing. Let it drive you."
F*ck That Table, Sis
Black women have had to fight so hard for a place in the room, that we're only now being allowed to have a seat at the table. But the way Ms. Ava sees it, f*ck that table, sis. It's time to rebuild a new infrastructure that actually includes us in the first place. In her speech at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards, she said:
"My truth is I don't want a chair at the table. Or even three or even half anymore. I want the table to be rebuilt. In my likeness. And in the likeness of others long forced out of the room."
In her profile for Glamour, she explained further:
"You can't build the whole base of the table with everybody around the table, and then keep two chairs to include these other people. In the building of the table, in the very way that it was built, it needs to have everyone involved."
To read Ava's full speech, click here!
Featured image by Prince Williams/Wireimage