I discovered the fabulous Ava DuVernay when it was announced she’d be directing an episode of my favorite TV show, Scandal (the episode will air on November 21, 2013). In 2012, she was the first African-American female filmmaker to win the Best Director Award at the Sundance Film Festival for her film, Middle of Nowhere. She is extremely passionate about telling the stories of black women.
Recently, she gave a keynote address at the 2013 Film Independent Forum, and while her comments were delivered to filmmakers, I believe the advice she provided fits in with the messages of this site. Two portions of her speech really resonated with me. First, she describes her evolution from being a “desperate” filmmaker– always depressed and frustrated about being unable to make the films she deeply wanted to see made– to being a filmmaker who was actually doing something. Action regarding her work is what moved her career forward, versus passive action spent looking for a big break. She has a fantastic analogy of two trains leaving a station, which would you rather be on? Second, in responding to a question from the audience about making certain films, she asks the questioner to define what success looks like for him and suggests aligning his actions to achieve that.
Check out Ava’s full address:
You can follow her on twitter at @AVAETC. What does success look like for you?