Iconic Angelenos in Black History: Ava Duvernay

In honor of Black History Month, join us each day from February 10th to the 19th as we celebrate Black Angelenos who have influenced culture, social justice, and progress in Los Angeles and, in some instances, the nation.

Today we celebrate Ava Duvernay:

Ava Duvernay made her mark in the indie-mainstream this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where she earned the Best Director Prize for "Middle of Nowhere," becoming the first Black woman to receive the honor. Though only recently has her work been exposed to a more general audiences, Duvernary has been breaking grounds with the Black American film circuit for years. A publicist by trade, Duvernay formed DVA Media + Marketing in 1999, providing strategy and execution for more than 120 film and television campaigns, including Spider Man 2, Dream Girls, and The Help. In 2008 Duvernay launched her directorial career with the hip-hop documentary "This is The Life," which debuted on Showtime in 2009. She then went on to direct and produce three network music documentaries. In 2011 her first narrative feature "I Will Follow" was released theatrically via her distribution collective, the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement. Duvernay is Los Angeles native and graduate of UCLA.

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First Black woman to win the Best Director Prize, for "Middle of Nowhere," at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Her film was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

Renowned film critic Robert Ebert called her 2011 film I Will Follow, "one of the best films I've seen about the loss of a loved one."

As MC Eve, she was a member of the hip hop group Figures of Speech (featured on Project Blowed's 1994 compilation album).

In 2011, she founded the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), designed to empower black independent filmmakers by offering a theatrical releases for their films.

In 2010, her documentary "My Mic Sounds Nice," a definitive history of female hip hop artists, was BET Networks first original music documentary.

Received numerous awards in the Black cinema festival circuit including the Audience Choice & Grand Jury Award from the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2008 for her documentary "This is the Life" and others from the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival, Toronto ReelWorld Film Festival, and Black Reel Awards for various years, categories and projects.

Her distribution network, AFFRM distributed Sundance's 2011 World Cinema Drama Audience Award winner, "Kinyarwanda," in seven major cities including Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, Seattle and Chicago

As we continue celebrating Black History Month with daily portraits of iconic Angelenos, check back for more features on other pioneering individuals and make sure to share this history with your friends and family. Click here for more portraits.


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