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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

When I think of people who are changing up the structure and breaking barriers in Hollywood, the first person that comes to mind is Ava DuVernay. Not only is she one of the few successful directors in the business, which is a painstakingly low 14 percent rate but of that, she is the only well-known female director. I think she is so inspiring because she is striving to make a difference with her films. Her career is amazing to witness because she joined the film industry at the age of 32. 

DuVernay originally went into film marketing in 1999 and started up her own firm, the DuVernay Agency. She had not created her own film until 2010 when she realized there were stories that needed to be told. Her work behind the camera exploded quickly after with her stellar work for her film Selma and her documentary 13th.

Selma 2014 movie directed by Ava DuVernay
She does not hesitate to try and make the Black community feel heard and seen. DuVernay has made strides towards uncovering the problematic criminalization of Black people, especially with her Netflix mini-series When They See Us. The hit project takes a look at the injustice of mass incarceration and what it does to family structures, and her goal was to get strong emotions from her viewers. Showing vulnerability in her projects like Queen Sugar allows viewers to connect to the characters and reflect to understand it is okay to feel these emotions, especially in the world today where it might not feel safe. DuVernay’s vision gives representation to Black people, which is a contrast from the classic trope of their dehumanization. Tackling this depiction of the Black community with her documentaries on the racial justice system and criminal justice system exposes the structures that are meant to support them, not fail them. She has such a powerful perspective to fluently address every problematic issue, the most important being how the Black community is portrayed in the media and the lack of justice in society. With her work, DuVernay inspires and promotes change.

DuVernay strives to break the barrier towards the lack of representation and diversity in Hollywood. One great example is her company Array, which is an independent film distribution and resource collective. Founded by Ava DuVernay, Array works to amplify independent films by people of color and women filmmakers around the world. She has not only comprised a list of various independent films but also gave descriptions along with locations to screen them. 

Black Lives Matter protest poster
Photo by Clay Banks from Unsplash
Ava DuVernay is an icon that needs to be talked about more often. She has quickly become a trailblazer in the film industry and has made history with her work. She is so inspiring to all womxn because she is never afraid to show the harshness of reality in society. Not only is she turning heads with her work behind the camera, but she is also an icon for all young girls out there as one of the few recognized Black female directors in Hollywood. As an award-winning writer, producer, and director, DuVernay’s success gives her an even bigger platform towards reaching as many people as she can.

Jolene Fourth-year English and History double major, and pursuing a minor in professional writing at UC Davis.
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