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:


Although she didn't receive an Oscar nom for directing the critically- raved civil rights drama "Selma," Ava DuVernay still made history in 2015 as the first black female director to have a film nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. She also became the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe.

DuVernay will be re-teaming with her "Selma" star David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King, Jr., to write, produce, and direct a film chronicling a love story and murder mystery set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina. She will be reuniting with another "Selma" collaborator, Oprah Winfrey, on an TV show for the Oprah Winfrey Network. DuVernay will write, direct, and executive produce the drama adapted from Natalie Baszile's novel "Queen Sugar." Winfrey is set to appear in a recurring role.

DuVernay made her mark in the indie-mainstream at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where she earned the best director prize for "Middle of Nowhere," becoming the first black woman to receive the honor. Though her work has been exposed to a more general audience only recently, DuVernay has been breaking ground in the black-film circuit for years. A publicist by trade, she formed DVA Media + Marketing in 1999, providing strategy and execution for more than 120 film and television campaigns. DuVernay launched her directorial career in 2008 with the hip-hop documentary "This is The Life," which debuted on Showtime in 2009. DuVernay is a Los Angeles native and UCLA alumna.

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First black female director to have a film nominated for an Academy Award for best picture and to be nominated for a Golden Globe -- for the Civil Rights drama "Selma." First black female director to win the best director prize -- for "Middle of Nowhere" -- at the Sundance Film Festival.

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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