Vixen Chat: Black Filmmaker Ava DuVernay Talks Breaking the Hollywood Mold

These days, having one job is a rarity: just ask media moguls like Jay-Z. For many, that old school mentality can keep you from going after a dream you were convinced couldn’t translate to reality. Fortunately, visionaries like Ava DuVernay didn’t let that stop them.  As Sundance Film Festival’s first African American woman to win the “Best Director” award, she’s a notable example of what it means to work from the ground up.

A California native and University of California graduate, DuVernay’s career in the film industry actually started on the business side. As head of the DuVernay Agency, the Academy member was sought after by Hollywood giants (Clint Eastwood, Bill Condon) to create marketing plans for their projects- a skill she applies to her own films today.

“I definitely integrated a lot of the organization communications skills from being a publicist,” she tells Vixen.   “You’re working on 12 or 13 clients and projects at any one time, so that multitasking is really helpful as well as being able to communicate with talent. Definitely serves me well as a director.”

Unlike her director counterparts, Ava opted for an unconventional type of film education. Since she couldn’t afford noted film schools like USC and AFI, Ava’s classroom was all of the resources she could acquire on her own.