Moonlighting as a financier, producer, director, distributor and marketer of your first feature film is no easy feat, but Hollywood public relations guru Ava Duvernay has made it happen. "This Is the Life" chronicles an artistic collective of 50 Black teenagers who congregated for weekly meetings at a health food store in South Central Los Angeles to find a refuge from the rampant gang culture in their communities. During the early 1990's, these teens were known as "The Good Lifers," and their mission to create an alternative music movement had a worldwide influence on the hip-hop artform, which piqued Duvernay's interest in their story.
"The odds of me, a Black Woman, making a feature film are slim," says Duvernay, who owns the entertainment public relations firm the Duvernay Agency in Hollwyood. "Shoot, the odds of us making a second film are just plain scary, but that's all the more reason to embrace what one of my favorite thinkers said centuries ago: ‘Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete." In order words, have faith, homegirl!"
Winner of Audience Awards in Los Angeles, Toronto and Seattle, "This Is The Life" is distributed by Duvernay's distribution company, Forward Movement, and is now available on DVD.—KNB