Ava DuVernay has worked in the world of film as a marketer and publicist for more than 14 years, forming DVA Media + Marketing in 1999. Her award-winning firm has provided strategy and execution for more than 80 film and television campaigns for acclaimed directors such as Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann, Robert Rodriguez, Bill Condon, Raoul Peck, Gurinder Chadha and Reggie & Gina Bythewood.
Yet, in 2008, Ava stepped behind the camera to make her feature film directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed hip-hop documentary, “This is The Life.” DuVernay, a graduate of UCLA and a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, is based in L.A.
Here, she talks about her skyrocketing second career.
Kam Williams: Hi, Ava, thanks for another interview. How have you been?
Ava DuVernay: Thanks, Kam. I always love talking to you. I’ve been good and busy!
KW: Congrats on having three new productions going at the same time. Looks like you’ve really arrived!
AD: Appreciate that. It feels wonderful. I’ve wanted to direct for a long time, so working full-time as a filmmaker this year has been a dream come true.
KW: Tell me a little about each of them.
AD: Well, the first is a network project called “My Mic Sounds Nice.” It was commissioned by BET as their first original music documentary and explores the art and issues around women rappers. I interviewed 35 people, half of whom were female emcees like MC Lyte, Salt n Pepa, Roxanne Shante, Trina, Eve, YoYo, the list goes on. Commercially available music created by female hip-hop artists is a bit of a lost art form at the moment, and there are many theories as to why that’s the case. We attempt to explore the history and current state of this issue in “My Mic Sounds Nice,” which premieres on BET on August 30 at 10PM. The second project is a concert film I directed for Essence and Time, Inc Studios chronicling the 2010 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Did you know Essence Music Fest is the largest annual African-American gathering in the country? This year’s three day fest was absolutely amazing, with everyone from Janet Jackson to Alicia Keys to Mary J. Blige to Jill Scott, to Earth Wind & Fire to Trey Songz! It was so much fun to direct. “TV One Night Only: Live from Essence Music Festival 2010” airs on August 28 on TV One.