ava duvernay quotes


He feels like a real guy who has some weight on his shoulders, and yet you look in his eyes and see this vulnerability and this sweetness. For me that really encapsulates the vibe of so many African-American men that I know and love. But in film and television we either see the alpha or the emasculated. He represents this beautiful hybrid of all that complexity.Ava Duvernay on Lakeith Stanfield 


Born in San Bernardino, Calif., Stanfield says he learned to how to act by codeswitching in his everyday life. “I could hang out with the white guys, who were considered by the hood to be corny dudes,” Stanfield says later, while sipping on a whiskey coke at a Park City sports bar. “I could go chill with the gangbangers. I could go chill with anyone and fit right into whatever mold because I knew how to switch. That was something I realized early on. Like, ‘What is my identity?’ And I realized my identity is in all of those. I learned how to survive that way, and it’s been valuable for my career.” - Lakeith Stanfield for Complex

[I]t was also something that [Disney VP] Tendo Nagenda said to me, which I’ll never forget. One of the things that really made me want to read it was when he said, ‘Ava, imagine what you would do with the worlds.’ Worlds! ‘Planets no one’s ever seen or heard of,’ he said. There aren’t any other black women who have been invited to imagine what other planets in the universe might look and feel like. I was interested in that and in a heroine that looked like the girls I grew up with.

Ava DuVernay on A Wrinkle In Time. 

We’re hearing a lot about diversity. I hate that word so, so much. [Diversity] is a medicinal word that has no emotional resonance, and this is a really emotional issue. It’s emotional for artists who are women and people of color to have less value placed on our worldview.
—  Ava DuVernay on the word ‘Diversity’ at the Fifth Annual ARRAY Soiree during the 2016 Sundance FIlm Festival
Nobody’s talking about motherf–kin’ Driving Miss Daisy. That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is. Nobody’s discussing Driving Miss Motherf–kin’ Daisy. So if I saw Ava [DuVernay] today I’d say, ‘You know what? F–k 'em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.’

Every filmmaker imbues a movie with their own point of view. The script was the LBJ/King thing, but originally, it was much more slanted to Johnson. I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie; I was interested in making a movie centered on the people of Selma. You have to bring in some context for what it was like to live in the racial terrorism that was going on in the deep south at that time. The four little girls have to be there, and then you have to bring in the women. So I started adding women.

This is a dramatization of the events. But what’s important for me as a student of this time in history is to not deify what the president did. Johnson has been hailed as a hero of that time, and he was, but we’re talking about a reluctant hero. He was cajoled and pushed, he was protective of a legacy — he was not doing things out of the goodness of his heart. Does it make it any worse or any better? I don’t think so. History is history and he did do it eventually. But there was some process to it that was important to show.

—  On the eve of the announcement of the Oscar nominations, Selma director Ava DuVernay hits back over claims of historical inaccuracy in her film and defends her choice to cast the actions of President Lyndon Johnson in the narrative in a less heroic light.

Embedded in that very question is the idea that privilege does not apply. For me to say no — in my mind, there may not be another chance. There’s a natural tension with anyone to keep the chance for the open door. When you add to that issues of representation and marginalization that go on top of the artist’s feeling of, “Can I get my thing made?” it becomes challenging for me to say no. I get an opportunity from Netflix. “Do you want to make a doc?” “Yes, I want to make a doc.” Apple: “Would you like to make a commercial?” “Yes, I will make that commercial.” I’m running around doing everything because I love it, but also because there is the fear that any artist has that there won’t be another question asked to say no to. And on top of that, the fear that the industry might shift in terms of its attention to women right now or the current renaissance regarding people of color, specifically black folks on TV, and then you’re left with nothing.

Ava DuVernay on saying “No” to projects

As a black woman film-maker there isn’t a lot of support – there aren’t many of us around – so instead of not doing something, I figure out a way to do it without support. As you start to create your own work, you attract help from like-minded people; you can never attract it if you’re sitting still.
—  Ava DuVernay

Don’t count on me, I’m one person. That’s not change. That’s an anomaly. Forward-thinking people and allies of this cause within the industry have the common sense to know that this is systemic. There needs to be more done than applauding one or two people who make it through your door.

Ava DuVernay

I just think it’s fascinating that an era of Black Lives Matter is also an era of someone like Trump. We’re here and we’re trying to do something about it through our little corner of it, which is cinema. I feel like artists are stepping up to this moment through what we know how to do, raising our voices. We’ve always done this, but right now there’s a chorus that’s forming, and it’s beautiful.

Ava DuVernay

I think it’s vital to have [Donald Trump] in [The 13th], because he’s taken this country to a place that is gonna be studied and considered for a long time. It’s gonna have repercussions past the moment, whether he’s the president or not — gosh, I can’t believe I’m saying those words! So we need to remember this moment. It gives us context to this moment that we’re in, looking through a lens of race and culture
—  Ava DuVernay