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Woman of the week: Ava DuVernay

A Wrinkle in Time is making headlines, not for its all-star lineup – Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling – but for its incredible director. Here’s why she’s a hero

Wonder Woman
Award-winning director, producer, screenwriter and distributor are among DuVernay’s myriad talents

Name: Ava DuVernay

Age: 45

Nationality: American

Occupation: Filmmaker

Incredible moment

It sounds reductive to celebrate the Golden-Globe-nominated (for the brilliant Martin Luther King biopic Selma) and Oscar-nominated (for human rights documentary 13th) director Ava DuVernay for a mere music video. And yet nothing quite encapsulates the talent and relevance of Ms DuVernay better than her eight-minute film for Jay Z’s ‘Family Feud’. When it dropped in January, the fact that DuVernay had helmed the project was more celebrated than the roll-call of extraordinary stars who turned up on set simply to work with her – Jessica Chastain, Thandie Newton, Mindy Kaling and 17 further Hollywood hitters including Beyoncé and daughter Blue Ivy. The video short itself is a magnificent showcase of DuVernay’s work – it has the cultural relevance of 13th, the storytelling genius of Selma, and the sci-fi visual impact and inclusive casting of her soon-to-be-seminal work, A Wrinkle in Time.

FAMILY AFFAIR
Beyoncé was one of 17 Hollywood stars to perform in the DuVernay-directed video for Jay Z’s Family Feud
I’ve never seen somebody demand inclusiveness like DuVernay. It’s just a different perspective
Reese Witherspoon
Time magazine, 2017
GUIDING STAR
Duvernay on the set of A Wrinkle in Time with child actor Deric McCabe

Vital stat

Five years ago, the budget on DuVernay’s first feature film, Middle of Nowhere, was $50,000. Her most recent, A Wrinkle in Time, will make her the first female director of color to helm a film with a budget of over $100million.

FIRM FRIENDS
Actress Reese Witherspoon plays ‘Mrs. Whatsit’ in Duvernay’s forthcoming Disney blockbuster, A Wrinkle in Time

She says

“I don’t have kids, by choice. My films are my children. I’ve given myself permission not to think of work as something that’s taking me away from real life, because it is my real life.”

They say

“I’ve never seen somebody demand inclusiveness like DuVernay. It’s just a different perspective, and you don’t get that unless we start to have powerful filmmakers of different colors, different genders. You’re just gonna have the same 20 dudes making the same 20 movies over and over and over again.” Reese Witherspoon, Time magazine, 2017

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