Director Ava DuVernay makes it her business to tell the stories Hollywood rarely spotlights. Whether it be her indie film Middle of Nowhere that made her the first African-American woman to nab the Best Director prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival or her Academy Award-nominated motion picture Selma, Ms. DuVernay has made her agenda clear: to tell the diverse, complex stories about men and women of color.
Because of that commitment to diversity, Ava DuVernay became the arts and entertainment honoree for the 12th Annual McDonald’s 365 Black Awards at this year’s ESSENCE Fest. Before hitting the stage and accepting her well-deserved honor, the avid storyteller chatted on the red carpet with VIBE to discuss the current social climate, Black Twitter and her upcoming flick.
Peep game below.
VIBE: After Bree Newsome courageously took down the Confederate flag, you jokingly tweeted that you’d love to direct her biopic. What is it about Bree Newsome that resonates so much with you?
Ava DuVernay: You know, fortitude.
That’s right. You use the hashtag onward.
Right. Onward. It’s about being strong in our convictions and she was. Whether people agree or disagree with what she did—and I wildly agree with it, there’s something about action, the physical action of seeing that sister climb that pole and dismantle the symbol. It was incredible. It will be an image that is indelible when it comes to talking about human rights in general.
You recently shouted out Black Twitter when the hashtag #UrbanOutfittersBeLike began. What is it about Black Twitter that you enjoy so much?
I started to tell my friends who aren’t black about Black Twitter and they asked, how do we see Black Twitter. I said it is invisible unless you follow a lot of black people and most people don’t, but Black Twitter is truly like the Matrix. It just comes in front of you if you follow our folks. Like some of these hashtags are literally… if I could get some of these people in a writer’s room, we could make a TV show. Amazing comedians! Just the wit. So I love it. But also, we rallied around issues that are important as well, such as Ferguson, not just Scandal. Like some of the Rachel Dolezal tweets. Some of it was funny, but a lot of it was really poignant and insightful how people were feeling about misrepresentation. Anyway, I just think it’s a great community and I enjoy it. Until they turn on me. [Laughs]
— Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) June 26, 2015
Last question: David Oyelowo said you and him are working on a film about Hurricane Katrina. Is there any truth to that?
Yeah. This time next year, we hope to be shooting a film here in [New Orleans]. It’s a love story and a murder mystery that takes place during the time of Katrina. Pretty intense. Real beautiful story, so that’s next.