She didn't just shine a light on history. She made it.
Ava DuVernay’s résumé is full of “firsts.” In 2012, first black woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2015, first female black director to have a film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards (Selma). In 2017, first female black director to have a film nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards (13th). And she’s now the first woman of color to direct a big-budget feature (A Wrinkle in Time, released in 2018). DuVernay was the organizer of film company Array, which puts on African-American film festivals and orchestrates theatrical releases for black independent films. Her marketing and PR agency, DVA Media + Marketing, has handled projects for more than 100 film and TV shows. DuVernay believes that a successful life includes the ability to pivot from one challenge to another, a worldview she says was nurtured at UCLA, where she was a member of the Afrikan Student Union and wrote for UCLA’s African-American student magazine, NOMMO.