DuVernay makes history again with new film feat

Just over three months into 2018, and Ava DuVernay has already had quite a year: the director and producer not only celebrated the release of her acclaimed and inclusive A Wrinkle in Time, she also made cinema history along with Black Panther, with her film and the Ryan Coogler project marking the first time in history that “films by black directors with $100 million plus budgets have ever placed in the first two box office spots.”

But now, DuVernay is making history again, this time by entering the superhero universe: according to Glamour, she will be “taking on Jack Kirby’s beloved series New Gods, which means she’s the first black woman, and only the second woman after Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, to lead a DC comics blockbuster.”

Glamour said DuVernay confirmed her history-making news on Twitter, sharing a photo of Jack Kirby along with his quote, “Our dreams make us large.” Her tweet then spurred a deluge of support and praise, with some called her “The GOAT” (a.k.a the ‘greatest of all time’), while others expressed their congratulations and overwhelming excitement.

Adding to the excitement of DuVernay’s new project is that she is a fan of New Gods, says Glamour, sharing that her favorite superhero is “Big Barda, a powerful heroine with superhuman strength created by Kirby.” And, as Glamour points out, because the series only appeared in a limited way, DuVernay will have all the room to make New Gods her own.

And we know she will!

Time’s Up hit major milestones in first month

The Time’s Up campaign has achieved quite a bit in its first month in action: from a wide-reaching social media movement to a “black-out” at the Golden Globes to a white-rose moment at the Grammys, Time’s Up is certainly making its presence known in all aspects of pop culture. But now, the movement has reached an important set of milestones in its first month — milestones that will help further its mission in the future.

According to Glamour, at a recent Time’s Up panel in Los Angeles, “Obama administration alum and lawyer Tina Tchen announced that the group had already raised $20 million, from about 20,000 donors across the country.” Additionally, Tchen announced that the campaign has also received 1,000 requests for help, says ELLE, with requests coming from people of all walks of life.

“The need is clearly there, from all industries—farm workers, hotel workers, steel workers,” Tchen said at the panel. “I had a steel worker from Indiana reach out to my office….Time’s Up has spoken to men and women who need help getting safety and equity in the workplace.”

In terms of getting that help to those who need it, Glamour reports that lawyer and one of the founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund Roberta Kaplan said the requests are siphoned through the National Women’s Law Center:

“They have a number of lawyers who volunteer to work on these cases,” she said, “And they’re matching up clients with potential lawyers. Obviously the clients have to decide for themselves whether they want Lawyer A or Lawyer B to represent them.” The calls for help keeping coming in, says Kaplan: “[We’re getting requests] from people similar to some of the ‘me too’ stuff in Hollywood that you’ve heard—maybe not so famous, but people who’ve had bad experiences with someone in the industry—to other industries. I just got an email this morning from a nurse in Louisiana.”

And that $20 million — Kaplan told Glamour that the sum is “not that much,” as it “won’t even meet the current demand” for help. But with the campaign in its infancy and a plan in place to leverage the public platform of Hollywood to gain more traction, the Time’s Up campaign is bound to keep growing.

Just take the Song Suffragettes, for example: formed in 2014 in response a concern that women were being excluded from record labels and radio stations, The Columbian reports that the group of Nashville-based female musicians crafted a song and music video about the movement, with earnings from the song being donated to the Legal Defense Fund.

And Times Up even found a home across the pond, with British natives of Hollywood’s elite — such as Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson and Daisy Ridley — are “in the process of forming their own version of the movement” in Britain, according to Variety, advocating for both equal pay and safer workplaces for women across all industries.

Looks like time has not run out for the Time’s Up movement — and it’s not running out any time soon.

To donate or request help, click here.

DuVernay and Jay-Z team up for empowering music video

Eight minutes was all it took for Jay-Z and director Ava DuVernay to make a huge statement.

In the rapper’s brand-new music video for his song “Family Feud,” Bustle says the creative duo “managed to bring together some of Hollywood’s most impressive women to represent the Founding Mothers” — an all-female version of America’s political decision makers — “and rewrite the Constitution.”

Set in the year 2050, Bustle says a portion of the video imagines a diverse group of women — portrayed by the likes of Rashida Jones, Mindy Kaling, Janet Mock, Niecy Nash, Rosario Dawson, Constance Wu and Brie Larson (among others) — who are holding the reigns of power on deciding issues like gun control and the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery). Serving as the president: a grown-up Blue Ivy, says Bustle, who is played by This is Us star Susan Kelechi Watson. Bustle sums up the power of the Founding Mothers in this way:

“It’s an empowering moment of feminism backed by a genius narrative, as the discussion goes on to summarize some of the ideologies which have been instilled in Blue Ivy as a young child. The segment features Watson explaining to the council that ‘America is a family and the whole family should be free.'”

Overall, the moment creates a powerful statement of female empowerment, women in leadership roles and the ethic of women in general.

Here’s hoping life imitates art and women hold more leadership position in real life, not just in a cool music video.

Nicole’s Favorites: Digital Must-Reads

Friday is here, and with the weekend officially upon us, you might feel like relaxing before jumping into your weekend plans. Whether your agenda includes going out every night, sampling every brunch in a 30-mile radius or cozying up with a good book, it won’t hurt to celebrate the start of the weekend with a bit of inspiration from some of the most powerful women around.

So before diving into your busy — or lazy — weekend schedule, be sure to give these online reads a glance:

How Shania Twain Learned to Feel Beautiful After Tragedy and Self-Doubt” – Without a doubt one of my favorite artists of all time, Twain imparts her tale of self-doubt, tragedy and eventual acceptance and self-love to InStyle‘s Sarah Cristobal. From feeling anything but pretty as a child to learning how to feel comfortable in her own skin through the loss of her parents, a divorce and a vocal cord injury, Twain’s determination to overcome all that life has thrown at her is the definition of beauty and grace.

TIME magazine’s “Firsts” series – A series of video and print interviews with women who have been the first in their industry to achieve success, this project aims to inspire women and girls to “find someone whose presence in the highest reaches of success says to her that it is safe to climb, come on up, the view is spectacular.” With interviews ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Serena Williams, Barbara Walters to Selena Gomez, this series will not only make you believe in the power of women, but also in the power of your own abilities. Two of the most notable interviews come from Ava DuVernay, the first black to direct a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (Selma), and first female secretary of state Madeleine Albright; I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry watching them speak.

So wherever your weekend takes you, be sure to get a healthy dose of empowerment from some of the most inspirational women of our time.



DuVernay makes history

Major congratulations are in order for lauded Hollywood director Ava DuVernay.

According to Motto by TIME, the Selma director will “be the first African-American woman to head a live-action feature film with a budget over $100 million with her forthcoming A Wrinkle in Time.” Motto says that DuVernay’s Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated Selma was produced with a budget of $20 million.

DuVernay shares this achievement with two other women, reports Motto: “Kathryn Bigelow, who was the first to direct a film with such a budget in her 2002 K-19: The Widowmaker, and Patty Jenkins with Wonder Woman, which comes out next year, reports Women and Hollywood.”

As if this recent accomplishment isn’t enough, DuVernay’s new OWN series, Queen Sugar, has also been renewed for a second season ahead of its Sept. 6 premiere, reports CNN. OWN President Erik Logan said the network instantly knew they wanted another season of the show the second they saw DuVernay’s work.

“When we saw the first cut from Ava we knew right away that we wanted a second season,” Logan said in a statement, according to CNN. “We think viewers are going to connect with the deeply layered characters and powerful story and are excited to be able to share with them Ava’s director’s cut on premiere night without interruption. We are proud to be a network that supports a filmmaker’s creative vision.”

DuVernay and Winfrey team up for children’s classic

After working together on the movie Selma and collaborating again on a new series for OWN called Queen Sugar (set to premiere on September 6), Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay are set to work together for a third time, according to ELLE.

The pair is now taking on the children’s classic A Wrinkle in Timesays ELLE, part of a “science-fiction/fantasy series called the Time Quintet” that was penned by Madeleine L’Engle in 1963.

ELLE reports that Winfrey is in final negotiations to play the part of Mrs. Which, the “wisest of three mysterious characters who help two children find their lost father in another dimension.”

While ELLE says the character is portrayed as a light in the book, we’re pretty sure Winfrey will take the character to a whole new level — just as DuVernay will do the same to the entire film.

Be sure to keep an eye out for any further information about the film — THL certainly will!

The ‘A’-Team

Ava DuVernay was honored last year with the introduction of her “Sheroe” Barbie, which celebrated her success as a black female director. But the Selma director is in the spotlight yet again, and this time, it’s nor for her work, but who she will be working with.

According to Women in the World, DuVernay is developing her first television show, Queen Sugar, which is based on a book of the same name written by Natalie Baszile. But, DuVernay said that the series, which will air on Oprha’s OWN, will employ “an all-female directorial team, with many of the candidates pulled from a pool of African-American independent film directors.”

Set to be filmed in New Orleans, Queen Sugar “tells the story of an African-American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane in Louisiana and leaves Los Angeles for a fresh new start in the South,” according to The Conscious Tip, an online destination to promote the education and enhancement of the African American community.

DuVernay, the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival (an award she took home in 2012), spoke of her excitement to work on the project. “It’s an exciting time to just invite women into this show and really try to tell the story of this family of really strong women who do an amazing thing,” she said.

Although there is no set premiere date, Women in the World says that the series is slated for 13 episodes with “a release date scheduled for later this year.”


The ‘Sheroe’ Barbie

It’s not every day that we see a Barbie doll modeled after real-life successful businesswomen. But on Sunday, Dec. 6, Barbie announced the release of a new doll commemorating one such successful female.

According to Buzzfeed, Mattel announced on Sunday that a doll that was created in the likeness of Selma director Ava DuVernay for their line of “Sheroes” dolls unveiled in April was finally available for purchase this week.

The news caused fans to erupt in applause and praise on Twitter; Many congratulated Mattel’s move to honor the director, while others explained that this item will be making its way onto their Christmas lists.

DuVernay spoke to Buzzfeed News about the response to her doll, explaining that people are responding to the diversity the doll represents. “It’s about the full spectrum of who we are. It’s not enough even to have one black Barbie … because black women are not a monolith. We have all different kinds of hair, all different kinds of occupations, all different kinds of passions, so I think what folks might be responding to is the variance,” she said in her Monday interview.

Buzzfeed explained that the doll is particularly important to DuVernay for two reasons. First, the proceeds are donated to two of her favorite charities — ColorofChange.org, an organization that serves to “strengthen Black America’s political vote,” as well as Witness.org, which trains activist to safely and ethically use video as a means to advocate for human rights.

Second, each doll comes with a very important accessory: a director’s chair. “That single accessory has the potential to encourage an entire generation of young girls to follow in DuVernay’s footsteps; it’s a level of tangible encouragement to enter a world long dominated by white men that DuVernay didn’t experience when she was a child,” wrote Buzzfeed‘s Jarett Wieselman.

DuVernay reflected on the importance of including the director’s chair with the doll, and summed up its significance in this way: “I want more girls to be able to see themselves behind the camera creating images we all enjoy and I want to call attention to the fact that women directors are here all over the world. When we say there’s a dearth of women directors, it’s not that there’s a lack of women who direct, it’s a lack of opportunities and access for women to direct and be supported in that. I hope that this can contribute to that conversation as well.”

And it seems as though it is already having a widespread impact: NBC reported that the doll went on sale on Monday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. Within an hour, Barbie tweeted that the doll had sold out, redirecting consumers to Amazon to purchase the limited-edition doll. Shortly thereafter, Amazon was also sold out, forcing fans to resort to eBay where the $65 doll was listed for as much as $350.

But for DuVernay, it’s not about the sales. It’s about allowing girls to do what she does best — tell stories.

“I spent a whole 12 years helping other people tell their stories as a publicist, so just to be able to go and write and get behind the camera, that’s my thing,” DuVernay told Buzzfeed. “That’s what I used to do with Barbie — just sit around all day with my sisters telling stories with our Barbies. And if I get to dress up on the side and have a Barbie and go to the Oscars, that’s fun too — but for me, I could tell these stories forever and am just glad I have the opportunity to do it.”