The 42-year-old director started out in publicity, but she crossed over to filmmaking once she saw producer Michael Mann at work.
Ava DuVernay is making history, one step at a time.
In 2012, the Selma director became the first Black woman to win an award for Best Dramatic directing at Sundance Film Festival for her critically-acclaimed film, Middle of Nowhere. Today, DuVernay became the first Black woman to snag a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director for a Motion Picture.
Selma, which has been in the works for two years, has generated a decent amount of buzz preceding its January release. The film tells the story of the iconic 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery and stars David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This film is a jump from where the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood honoree started nearly 20 years ago. DuVernay, reports The New York Times, was originally interested in publicity, but made the jump to filmmaking once she saw The Last of the Mohicans producer Michael Mann hard at work.
"I just remember standing there in the middle of the night in East L.A. and watching Michael Mann direct and thinking, 'I have stories,'" she told The Times. "That was the moment I thought: 'Wow, I could do this. I would like to do that.'"
From there, she made the jump to documentaries, directing her first, This is the Life, in 2008, which takes a look at L.A.'s hip-hop scene. She made her first feature, I Will Follow, in 2010, which gave her the financial means to make Middle of Nowhere.
And she's still going strong. The Golden Globes are often seen as an indicator for the Academy Awards; if that's the case, DuVernay could be the first Black female director nominated for an Oscar. Either way, her nomination is a huge step for Black women everywhere.
Congratulations to DuVernay!