For the month of May, the Power Person of the month is none other than the amazing, beautiful, and talented, Ava DuVernay. DuVernay is honored this month because of her willingness to continually tell Black stories in an unfiltered and much needed way. She got her start in film in 2005, when she made a short film with the last of her money to create a personal project around her single-mother's life with 3 kids, entitled, Saturday Night Life. In 2011, she created a film, I Will Follow, another film featured around a loved one, her aunt. It was in 2012 where she saw the fruits of her labor, directing her second Middle of Nowhere, which she actually wrote in 2003, but couldn't get the funding to shoot. From this project, she was awarded with US Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
From here, Ava DuVernay sought out to take over the directing space. In 2014, she directed, Selma, a film which told the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and those who followed him in the march from Montgomery, Alabama to Selma, Alabama. She also directed the Netflix hit, 13th, which was centered around the criminal justice system and the Thirteenth Amendment, which the film gets its name. Just last year, DuVernay directed the live action film of the 1962 novel, A Wrinkle in Time, which DuVernay made sure women empowerment and diversity were highlighted.
Today, Netflix is premiering a 4-part series entitled, When They See Us, which is directed and was co-written by DuVernay. The series will tell the story of the Central Park 5: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise. The teens were charged with raping a jogger in New York's Central Park and were arrested. They all received convictions even though there were not enough physical evidence connecting them to the rape. Their sentences ranged from 6 to 13 years in prison. It was in 2002 when their charges were overruled after another man confessed to the crime and DNA evidence proved this. them. Again, here we see DuVernay taking on the justice system unapologetically.
DuVernay stated this project came to be because Santana sent her a tweet in 2015 that said, "what's your next film gonna be on?? #thecentralparkfive #cp5 #centralpark5 maybe???? #wishfulthinking #fingerscrossed." She slid in his DMs and they met when she traveled to NYC. This tweet stuck with unlike the many tweets she receives and said, "I was always riveted by this case. At the time that these boys were teenagers in Harlem, I was a teenager, grew up in Compton on the opposite coast. So I was always connected to the story."
In an interview with the Oprah Magazine earlier this month, Ava said of her boldness, "I always used to say I'm not going to knock on closed doors-I'm going to make my own door," DuVernay said. "When I come in my Array Offices, I'm walking through my own doors. I built my own door, I built it."Her company is built on 14,000 acres across 3 buildings. Her staff is compromised of about 50 individuals which are all women and mostly Black.
Next for Ava, she is creating an anthology series for the Oprah Winfrey Network titled, Cherish the Day, which will center on romance. This will be added to the other works Ava DuVernay has help create that she calls in her Twitter bio, her "10 kids", which are: When They See Us, Wrinkle in Time, Queen Sugar, 13th, Selma, Middle of Nowhere, Venus VS, I Will Follow, My Mic Sounds Nice, This is The Life. This month, we celebrate you, Ava and all of the great work you have provided us to watch over the years and we cannot wait to see what the future has in store for you and Array.