Celebrity Interviews / Disney

5 Things We Can All Learn from Ava DuVernay

Updated March 10, 2018
5 Things We Can All Learn from Ava DuVernay

Photo credit: Louise Manning Bishop /

This is for kids and for people who still have a kid inside of them. – Ava DuVernay

When I was in LA last week for A Wrinkle In Time movie premiere, I had the chance to chat with the director, Ava DuVernay. I knew about her from the  2 films Selma and 13th including Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations she directed but didn’t know much more about her background history. After interviewing Ava not only did I learn more about her but I left the room with more knowledge than ever before and took some life lessons from her. That is why I’m sharing 5 Things We Can All Learn from Ava DuVernay because she truly is inspirational to each and every one of us.

Photo Credit: Disney

5 Things We Can All Learn from Ava DuVernay

Kids Like to Laugh But Also Like to Think

Ava really wanted to make a film for kids. She doesn’t have children by choice but says that her films are her children. She puts her blood, sweat, and tears into them because her name is on it. She hopes the film, A Wrinkle In Time will be enduring for kids for a long time to come. She talked about the kids on set and in the film.

“We approached the story in a way that we were always thinking of young people but then also with the young people that we had on set making sure that they felt safe, included and that their voices were being heard.  I was really listening to them a lot about what’s cool, what do the kids wanna see, you know. What they said surprised me.

They liked not to be talked down to and a lot of times in kids movies, you know, they’re always trying to — I found this with some of the people you know, at the studio that were like it should be more jokes, kids like to laugh. Yes, kids like to laugh but kids also like to think. They like to feel and so, you know, the first 30 minutes of the movie it’s just about Meg, there’s no magic. For 30 minutes we make you sit down and sync into the heart of a young girl and she’s trying to figure out things, struggling at school, struggling with the bullies, struggling with an absentee father, all those things. We demand that you just look at a girl for 30 minutes before the fantasy magic happens and we send them off flying.”

Photo credit: Louise Manning Bishop /

You Alone Can Make a Difference in your World

Ava is loyal on set and knows everyone by their name from the designers, artists and more. She talked about how you should know people by there name out of respect and how this movie can make a difference in the world.

“I used to be a crew member. I used to be a publicist and on sets and I would be only one of the few women, and one of the few black people, and probably the only black woman so many times, but regardless of who I was, so many directors just didn’t know their crew members’ names. I thought how disrespectful.

These people were here before you got out of your trailer. They set up the trailer that you can go into. This is someone’s father or mother who’s been here since five o’clock in the morning. Everyone’s working hard. How do you walk past people and not know their name?

My dream was making movies to leave in the world. I get to do that every day and I get to have family on set. They know my name. I know their name. I walk up to the set and I get love from hundreds of people every day who are happy to be there and happy to do their work. I hope some of the way the films I’m making leave a mark but also the way we made them. The way we made them leave some mark so that more people can do it this way, more inclusive where more people feel like they belong.”

Photo Credit: Disney

Make It Meaningful

Everything Ava has done has been so meaningful and we wanted to know more about this. She talks about how she wants the message to be loud, clear and for everyone to hear.

“I just want them to be meaningful. I don’t want them to be junk food where you come in, you see the movie and you walk out and you forget about it by the time you get to the car. I want the images to stick to your ribs like soul food, and I want you to think about the stories or get something from the narratives or the way that the camera moves or the way that something looks. You know, try not to let it be empty calories, but a meal, and I think the only way to do that is to put love in every frame.

I really, I really want it to be a seed that blossoms into something beautiful in young people about the way that we treat each other, and the way that we see ourselves, and the way that we’re seen. Movies have the power to do that.

There’s a lot of division and darkness in the world and to be able to say you could be a light, and that if your individual light shines… Oprah always says it’s easier for one light to illuminate a dark room. So if we were the darkness in this room and someone just turned on one candle there would be light in the air. But it’s really hard for darkness to drown out light.”

Photo Credit: Disney

No One Else Says You Can Do It But You

Those are the exact words from Ava DuVernay during our interview. This little girl named Ava came from Compton and was always drawing and writing as a kid. She became a publicist being able to see what goes on behind the camera not knowing that is what she actually was born to do until she picked up a camera at age 32 and began playing with it. That is when her vision became real to make life-changing movies for the world to see.

“I remember dreaming about all the things I wanted to be and not knowing if I could be them. Not seeing anything in my world beyond my mom who loved me and my family who loved me to tell me you can do it and nothing else said you can do it.

School didn’t say you can do it. Society didn’t say you could do it. Nothing said you could do this. Nothing said you can be here and direct this movie. You know, nothing said that you can do any of it. So you have to find it in yourself and that’s what this book says. That’s what the movie is saying. So I related to Meg very much.”

Photo credit: Louise Manning Bishop /

Always Count Your Gratitudes

Gratitudes are one thing we may take for granted. How many times have you counted your blessings? I loved what Ava had to say about this.

“I do this thing all day where I count gratitude so throughout the day so at the end of the day when I say goodnight to myself and to the universe or to God I’ll say thirteen or forty-seven or whatever number it is that day in that moment even if I can’t remember all the things they were, but I’ll count them. So today I’m on 19. You all are 20 right, about the things that I’m grateful for in this moment, and some days you’re going through the day and you’re like I got three. But it’s my little prayer, and I count for gratitude the little pieces of things that I have gratitude for, a smile, a person that lets me in the left turn lane when I know it was wrong and I shouldn’t have been there, the parking spot there, just little things.

If you just take a second to acknowledge it, it gives you a little jolt of joy, just the little pieces because I work so much and you guys have families and you got kids and so it’s hard to find the time, the vacation, the message, the big joyful things, right. You just count them through the day and they give you a little kick.”

A WRINKLE IN TIME is NOW playing in theaters everywhere!

From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on
Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space,
examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s
transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing
one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.

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  • Jennifer H
    March 9, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    I love her gratitude idea too! We’ve done something similar for years, which is go around the dinner table as a family and share what we’re grateful for. We do this every evening. But I like she counts them up – even if she doesn’t remember them all at the end of the day, that number means something.

  • Writers Fort
    February 12, 2019 at 10:50 pm

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