Skip to content

Happy Birthday Ava DuVernay: 10 Empowering Quotes From The Visionary Filmmaker

Happy Birthday Ava DuVernay: 10 Empowering Quotes From The Visionary Filmmaker

Today is visionary filmmaker Ava DuVernay's 45th birthday.

Since she picked up a camera at the age of 33, DuVernay has blazed her own trail and made history, a few times. She is the first Black woman to win the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival, the first Black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director, the first Black woman director to have her film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and the first Black woman to helm a live-action feature with a budget over $100 million. With the television show "Queen Sugar", the documentary "13th", and films like "Middle of Nowhere", "Selma" and "A Wrinkle in Time" under her directorial belt, DuVernay has become one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood. To celebrate her life, light and passion for telling our stories, here are 10 empowering Ava DuVernay quotes. 

1. "We have to find new ways to work without permission, new ways to turn corners and go through doors that are closed off to us to create our own audiences and our own material independently."

Photo courtesy of Netflix 

2. "If your dream only includes you, it's too small."

Photo via: Getty Images 

3. "Ignore the glass ceiling and do your work. If you're focusing on the glass ceiling, focusing on what you don't have, focusing on the limitations, then you will be limited. My way was to work, make my short... make my documentary... make my small films... use my own money... raise money myself... and stay shooting and focused on each project."

Photo via: AP Images/Invision

4. "Be passionate and move forward with gusto every single hour of every single day until you reach your goal."

Photo via: Getty Images 

5. "As a Black woman filmmaker I feel that’s my job: visibility. And my preference within that job is Black subjectivity. Meaning I’m interested in the lives of Black folk as the subject. Not the predicate, not the tangent.[These stories] deserve to be told. Not as sociology, not as spectacle, not as a singular event that happens every so often, but regularly and purposefully as truth and as art on an ongoing basis, as do the stories of all the women you love." 

Photo credit: David Bebber 

6. "For me as person who loves movies and thinks that they’re magic, to watch the magic happen, it was a demystifying of the idea that only certain people can do it, and that this was a world being created outside of my reach."

7. "For me, it's a question of the way we pursue our creative dreams. There is something in our culture that says your dream or the thing you’re pursuing has to happen immediately and all at once, and that is destructive to the creative spirit. I just embraced the idea that this was going to be a gradual exploration of the thing I was interested in—making films—and gave myself permission to go slowly. I didn’t beat myself up for the fact that I had a day job. I considered how I could strengthen myself through my day job so that one was feeding the other."

8. "If you're doing something outside of dominant culture, there's not an easy place for you. You will have to do it yourself."

Photo via: Hollywood Reporter 

9. "Figure out what you need to do to be the heroine of your own story."

Photo credit: Prakash Shroff

10." I've passed along some advice that Oprah [Winfrey] gave to me: When something bad is happening, it's not happening to you; it's happening for you." 

Photo via: Hollywood Reporter