Ava DuVernay wasn’t always confident in pursuing the social justice-themed films and documentaries that have come to define her career.
“I used to run away from that kind of thing,” she admitted to ESSENCE’s Entertainment Director Cori Murray on Friday at Essence Festival in New Orleans. “I didn’t want to be called…always doing the serious stuff and the social justice stuff.”
“But sometimes you have to lean into your calling, so I accept it,” DuVernay added.
The limited series tells the story of what DuVernay likes to call now The Exonerated Five from the perspective of the then-teens who were wrongly convicted of rape in 1989. DuVernay created, co-wrote and directed the four-part series.
“I’m just feeling more powerful as a storyteller. I’m feeling more confident. I’m feeling that storytelling can do more than entertain,” she said. “It can shift and shape culture, it can right wrongs, and it can lift us all to a place where we can be more determined in our own lives.”
“If I can keep doing things like this I’d be very happy,” she added.
Essence Festival continues this weekend through Sunday.