Ava DuVernay builds a safety net in case ‘Hollywood kicks me out’

This story is part of Entrepreneur’s 2022 100 Powerful Women. Find the rest of the list here.



Courtesy of Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay is talking about the old days – back when she first started making movies. She’s saying there aren’t many role models for black female filmmakers, and the projects she’s famous for have no safety net: Selma, 13, when they saw usThen she suddenly stopped and exclaimed, “I’m talking like I made a movie 40 years ago — about 10 years ago, my first movie came out! But no one could watch it, and walked away, ‘Oh, This woman, she made 10 movies.”

So in 2011, DuVernay created his own safety net. She founded the independent distribution company ARRAY (then called AFFRM), which has since grown into a narrative collective that provides content, production, programming, distribution, and nonprofit services such as education, funding, and event space—all as a A kind of springboard to become a neglected voice in the film and television industry. “It becomes an incubator for disruptive ideas, which is really beautiful,” DuVernay said.Recent successes include white tiger, Common language, sugar queen, and they must have us.

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“One of my film mentors was Haile Jerima,” says DuVernay, “who taught at Howard University and owned a small bookstore and coffee shop. He had a small editing room in his office upstairs in the bookstore, and he Can always make movies there. He calls it his “liberated territory”. With ARRAY, I have a liberated territory. If Hollywood kicks me out and decides not to let me there, I can always be here do my thing.”

But when DuVernay started ARRAY, she already had some skills that convinced her she could tell a story that made an impact — and run a company, for that matter. Before becoming a filmmaker, she led her own advocacy agency. “Being a PR person, especially for independent films…really showed me that there are so many ways to amplify identity and experience,” she noted. “And don’t get caught up in what Hollywood says you should do.”

DuVernay said she has only recently begun to think of herself as having a broad cultural influence. She talks about the emotion and imagination of film – how stories and images affect audiences, inviting them to see the world in a different way. Ultimately, though, she believes that movies only affect culture because audiences absorb them and react to them.

“I don’t want to influence culture, because I want people to engage with films and stories in a way that inspires them to think, maybe it helps them Affects culture,” says DuVernay. “Designer Anne Klein had a great quote before she died. “The clothes I design don’t change the world, but the women who wear them do,” she said. Movies don’t change the world, but movies may make people who watch them want to behave differently, learn different things, believe in different thing. This is indeed the goal. “

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