She walks in smiling. A chocolate vision in a tangerine dress, dreadlocks swaying gently, holding up her phone at us, instastorying. I love her immediately. She sits down still smiling, aura pushing all the way to the back wall of the room, making my head vibrate like solfeggio frequencies were playing in my skull.
She’s immediately respectful. “Does it feel okay to say mommy bloggers? What should I call you guys?” We are awestruck and numb: “Call us whatever you want, whatever you want to do.” We are zombies.
That’s that Ava power. She hit us with a one-two combination platter of bigheartedgentlespirit and superfantasticalunicorncarefreeblackgirlmagictalentandfamedopeness. The room even smelled different. I swear to you.
I was already riding high from Oprah earlier in the day, so naturally, I was levitating. I was open. I was ready to hear on a different frequency. Everything Ava Duvernay said was on a gilded arrow that shot straight to my heart and sent pulsing lovebomb rays through every cell in my body. She was speaking to me telepathically. Nobody else knew…but I did!
Slowly we come to our senses…slightly. And are able to form coherent questions to ask this phenom.
We asked her about making a children’s film.
What she said:
“I don’t have children by choice. I always said that my film are my children. You know, I put my blood into them. It’s really what has my name on it. It’s what I’ll leave behind in the world and so to be able to make something specifically for kids today, uh, something that I hope endures for kids, you know, for a long time to come was very emotional to me.
What I heard:
“Your business is your third child. Stop fuckin’ around and do better. You got this. Think of your legacy, dammit. What do you want Rohan and Kaya to think of what you’ve done on this planet? Huh!?”
(Oh, OK Miss Ava, that’s how you gon’ do me?!)
We asked for her thoughts on what went into the character of Meg, played by Storm Reid.
What she said:
“Storm’s a little girl from the inner city…who wears glasses, who doesn’t know how fantastic she is and I related to that. I remember being that. I remember dreaming about all the things I wanted to be and not knowing if I could be them. Not seeing anything in my world beyond my mom who loved me and my family who loved me to tell me you can do it and nothing else said you can do it. Nothing else said you can do it. School didn’t say you can do it. Society didn’t say you could do it. Nothing said you could do this. Nothing said you can be here and direct this movie. You know, nothing said that you can do any of it and so you have to find it in yourself and that’s what this book says. That’s what the movie is saying and so I related to Meg very much, very much.”
What I heard:
“Dani. Come on, son. You got this. You can do all the things. I know what you grew up like. I was that too. I know your big dreams. I had them too. But Dani, you can do all the big things. You’ve got everything you need inside you and the brains to get the rest! Trust me. You trust me right? Haaa! Of course you do! I’m muhfuggin Ava Du Ver Nay!”
And I was like:
And she was like:
We asked: Did this expand your creativity and vision as a storyteller?
What she said:
Yeah well money helps. Money helps a lot. We made Selma for 20 million dollars and this was like a 120 million dollars…. I was like god…. it’d be a bigger, better if I had a second crane and doing this. He was like oh, you want a second crane?… I said no, I was just…can I have a second crane? He’s like yeah, just tell us what you want and I was like I want a second crane! …. it was just like once I had to free myself to say I can ask them what I want and there’s actually budget to do it.
What I heard:
“How *clap* Many *clap* Times *clap* Do I have to tell you to ask for what you want and you will get it?! How *clap* Many *clap* Signs *clap Do you need from this abundant universe girl. Huh? How Many!? I’m waaaiiiting…..”
We asked how she wants to change the world with her movies.
What She Said:
“I really, I really want it to be a seed that blossoms into something beautiful in young people about the way that we treat each other and the way that we see ourselves and the way that we’re seen and so that’s really what I’m hoping. I mean movies have the power to do that. You know, movies have the power to do things that politics doesn’t even do…..
There’s a lot of division and darkness in the world to be able to say you could be a light and that if your individual light shines, you know, Oprah always says it’s easier to for one light to illuminate a dark room. So if we were the darkness in this room and someone just turned on one candle there would be light in the air. But it’s really hard for darkness to drown out light.
…. You don’t have to be Gandhi. You don’t have to be King. You don’t have to be Malala. In your day, when you go to school, you know, when you see a kid being bullied, you know, and you don’t talk about people and you behave the right way and you grow up to be empathetic, whole hearted person in the world you have to start right now.
What I Heard:
“You are a light. You can be the light for so many just as you are and as you improve and ascend. Teach Ro and Kai (yes, in my mind she knows my kid’s nicknames) to be little lights because they already shine so bright. Your words in your work have power just like my movies. You are here to make a difference now and in the future. Get to work tutz!”
We asked: I’m curious if you think about that for every film that you want your Ava stamp to look like this.
What She Said:
“I just want them to be meaningful. I don’t want them to be junk food where you come in, you see the movie and you walk out and you forget about it by the time you get to the car. I want the images to stick to your ribs like soul food right and I want, you know, you to think about the stories or got something, get something from the narratives or the way that the camera moves or the way that something looks. You know, just try not to let it be empty calories, you know, a meal and I think, you know, the only way to do that is to put love in every frame.”
What I Heard:
“Hold up! Did you re-start FitNoire yet? Did you stop writing B.S. pieces for other people and start doing the soul work you know you are here for yet? When is your next coaching session? Did you finish writing that e-course? Huh!? Why are you waiting? What are you waiting for?”
Your words are soul food for your audience. Don’t forget that! Your message for the audience you serve is like home-made soul food, not a Popeye’s boxed special!
We asked: What brings you light when you are in a dark place?
This is my favorite cuz her answer is my answer too!
“You know, I do this thing all day and I don’t talk to a lot of people about it but I do this thing all day where I count gratitude so throughout the day so at the end of the day when I say goodnight to myself and to the universe or to God I’ll say thirteen or forty seven or whatever and in that moment I can’t remember all the things they were but like I’ll count them. So today I’m on 19. You all are 20 right, about the things that I’m grateful for in this moment, and some days you’re going through the day and you’re like I got three.
….But it’s my little prayer and I count for gratitude the little pieces of things that I have gratitude for, a smile, a person that lets me in the left turn lane when I know it was wrong and I shouldn’t have been there, the parking spot there, just little things. If you just take a second to acknowledge it, it gives you a little jolt of joy, just the little pieces because I work so much and you guys have families and you got kids and so it’s hard to find the time, the vacation, the massage, the big joyful things, right. You just count them through the day and they give you a little kick.”
I’m legit chompin’ at the bit to say something….so I did:
“They call that rampage of appreciation!” (said Dani, excitedly.)
And Ava said:
“Oh, nice okay. I didn’t know there was a name for it. I love it.”
But What I heard was:
“Word? That’s cool. I love that you’re into that stuff, just like me! We probably have SO many things in common. We should talk later more about this gratitude stuff, and other things too and you should be my new best friend. Me you and Oprah will have tea and chat, K? Here’s my number. Text me!”
Then we all took a group picture and *poof* The chocolate angel in a tangerine dress disappeared in a cloud of purple sparkley smoke that smelled of lavender, ylang ylang and money.