Screenwriter Spotlight: Ava DuVernay


Although perhaps best known as the director of the hit film A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay has written and directed a wide range of culturally relevant and uniquely impactful films. Her stories are always memorable, leaving audiences with much to think about.

Ava didn't start writing screenplays until she was in her thirties. What draws us to her work is her fierce drive for inclusiveness of people of color in film, her attention to detail, and the art of asking questions about everything in her scripts. Part of what makes us love films and screenplays is how we can relate to the characters and their stories. DuVernay has always made it a point to write her films with diversity and visibility in the characters in order for all audience members to be represented and seen.

The documentary 13th, written and directed by DuVernay, examines the intersections of race and police brutality against Black communities. The film was aptly named after the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution. When writing and directing the documentary, DuVernay wanted to highlight the turmoils and injustices within the criminal justice system.

Selma, also one of DuVernay's most recent works as a screenwriter, portrays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fighting for voting rights for black Americans during the 1960s. The film was incredibly successful and earned four Golden Globes, as well as an Academy Award nomination. However, regardless of the film’s success, there were also serious issues with who was credited for writing the screenplay. DuVernay co-wrote the script with another screenwriter, but she was never given credit as a screenwriter. She went on to say that not receiving writing credits on the script was, "a really painful experience that I never talked about at the time."

Ava continues to direct and write screenplays for both television and movies. Her most recent directing debut was A Wrinkle in Time. It was the first ever film with a budget of $100 million dollar to be directed by a Black woman. As for now, DuVernay is currently writing, directing, and producing a television miniseries, The Central Park Five.

As Ava creates her legacy as a screenwriter and director, she has said on screenwriting, “Remind yourself why you’re telling this story every morning on the way to set. Why it’s important to you. What you want to say. Every morning.” 

Listed below are a few of the screenplays written by Ava DuVernay.

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Middle of Nowhere

Read the screenplay! 

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