DuVernay was chatting with reporter Van Lathan about her latest Netflix series, which tells the story of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and the five men who were wrongfully accused and later exonerated.
Still, when Lathan, who said he’s “from the south,” started calling DuVernay “Ms. Ava,” she opened up about the other labels of respect that people try to bestow upon her, including “Auntie Ava.”
“First of all, I have a real issue with recently I’ve been getting called on Twitter ‘Auntie Ava,'” the 46-year-old began. “Why?! Why?! Am I that old? Because I don’t feel that old.”
When Lathan clarified that people are likely giving her the auntie title because of “the weight that you bring” to the culture through all of her film projects, DuVernay said that she “appreciate[s] that.”
“I’ve been feeling some kinda way about it,” she still admitted.
After the interview, when the term “auntie” began trending on Twitter, DuVernay issued a clarification.
“For the record, I happily respond to: ‘Hello, Ms. DuVernay,’ ‘Hello, Sis,’ ‘Hello, Queen,’ ‘Hello, Family,’ ‘Hello, Ava’ (safest bet),” she wrote. “Ms. Ava is fine if you’re under 18.”
She added, “Thanks for showing me respect regardless, Van. Had fun talking to you. Wishing you all good things.”
Since then, an entire conversation about the term auntie used on Black Twitter and in the Black community erupted on social media. While some commentators embrace the term “auntie,” others simply aren’t here for it.
DuVernay has been hard at work promoting her latest Netflix series, When They See Us.
The director told ESSENCE that she remembered “hearing about the crime itself” when the story first broke back in the 80s. She hopes that this case will help us interrogate the media and the justice system.