Career Tip from Ava DuVernay: 'Follow the White Guys'


At this year’s BlogHer conference in New York City, Ava DuVernay delivered a keynote in which she gave advice on how to get ahead. In an industry where the acclaimed Selma director is a minority, she described using “the white guys” as a lead. “You gotta follow the white guys. Truly. They’ve got this thing wired,” DuVernay said. “Too often, we live within their games, so why would you not study what works? Take away the bad stuff, because there’s a lot, and use the savvy interesting stuff and figure out how they can apply. It’s a good one for the ladies.”

DuVernay also talked about her meetings with Marvel to direct Black Panther, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film, which would be Marvel’s first movie starring a black superhero, would have required a three-year commitment. DuVernay questioned whether it was important enough for her to make. “At one point, the answer was yes, because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way, in a certain way: excitement, action, fun, all those things, and yet still be focused on a black man as a hero—that would be pretty revolutionary,” she said. Though DuVernay did not take the gig, she is supportive and will be watching it when it comes out.

DuVernay also advised the bloggers in attendance to keep a variety of interests. “No one has all her eggs in one basket. Diversify, but stay true to your interests. If you really look at the people you admire, they don’t all do one thing. It’s okay to do more than one thing as it relates to the blog, as it relates to your own business. You don’t have to choose,” she said.

With Selma, DuVernay became the first black female director to be nominated for both a Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Picture. “Women have been trained in our culture and society to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want,” she continued. “We’ve been really indoctrinated with this culture of permission. I think it’s true for women, and I think it’s true for people of color. It’s historic, and it’s unfortunate and has somehow become part of our DNA. But that time has passed.”

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Image via AP.

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