A Fly On The Wall

Confession: I'm lightweight obsessed with Ava DuVernay...and by lightweight I mean a whole lot. 24womens-well-film-slide-UWK1-tmagArticle There are a plethora of reasons why - I'll skip the fact she used her savings to fund her first film or that she was the first woman (and person of color) to win the director's award at Sundance. I'll skip that she is a beautiful black woman who tweeted about her gown selection for the Oscars with so much excitement that I could tell she's more a jeans type of girl. Oh and then there's the fact she directed the story of one of our most prolific leaders, Dr. Martin Luther the King! I think the biggest reason I'm so obsessed with her is that I see myself in her. Years before she was a sought after director, Ava DuVernay was a great publicist working with all the top filmmakers. While she was working, she was also watching. Her craft was being developed and she's a great symbol to me of what can happen if I utilize my opportunities while doing my job. Then there's her work with AFFRM-how she not only used her publicity experience for more profit for herself but that she became an active advocate for all filmmakers of color. Oh and you know I'm petty, so there's the fact her name DuVernay has some similarity to DaVida with that capital V following a vowel that follows a capital D and all. And thus my obsession...

As a huge fan of Ms. DuVernay's work, I listen to her speeches constantly when I'm in flux about what to do next career wise. She not only speaks about but she really stands for creating your own path while not waiting for someone else to say it's ok or give you said opportunity. As a strong worker bee type, this message is sometimes a tough one for me. I've spent my entire life trying to work for this person or that person so by association my great big chance will come. Well, let the record show, I've consistently worked for the best of the best and no golden stairway has magically appeared. I am not saying I don't get great perks for working for others -in fact this post was made possible as a result of my day job. What I'm saying is that I am going to have to produce something for folk to start taking me seriously as a producer! Ms. DuVernay constantly reiterates that sentiment well that's what I perceive her to be saying :)

So again, while my job doesn't fulfill my most passionate desires, it does offer some pretty cool opportunities (and I learn so much so no shade to the folk that pay the bills). I knew that one of my boss' clients would be involved in a top secret shoot. A week or so before, I found out that the project would be directed by Ms. DuVernay. Mind you I found out a Monday and that previous Friday I was all up in Ms. DuVernay's Twitter DM's pleading for an opportunity to meet her. Funny how things work out...

Normally I don't get to attend client shoots with my boss so I assumed that would be the case with this particular shoot, especially due to the secret nature of the project. I was overjoyed when the shoot day came and my boss asked me to meet him on set! I had to prep - my emotions have often gotten the best of me when I've met folk I admire (let's not recall my grabbing poor Ms. Winfrey in a bear hug when she introduced herself to me on the set of "Lee Daniels The Butler"). Once I found out I would be able to attend I prayed and meditated to get in the right space. I had to set an intention for the day - while I so desparately wanted to meet her, I realized she'd be working and that might not be possible. Also I was working and didn't want to misrepresent my company or our client. My intention was to be a fly and the wall and watch her work. I wanted to see what her process was like - I was excited to simply see and I would have been grateful to see her set up one shot!

I can't say much as I did sign that NDA but what I will say is that I got to SEE her work. I was observing EVERY thing - how she interacted with the cast and crew, how she ran her set, what she did on break....man I'm so happy no one caught me because they would have surely thought I was a stalker chick! My obsession grew and felt validated. She was the truth. The things she talked about in her speeches were so vivid in front of me. I had no desire to run up on her and beg for her mentorship any more. Instead I knew without a doubt what I had to do. I was confronted with the core of my obsession. The number one reason I f's with Ms. DuVernay is that she is a proponent of doing the work. She never mentions shortcuts or having one of the director's she worked for putting in a good word for her. Her entire platform is about doing it for yourself. Getting the chance to see her work made that so visible. I saw her doing the work. That helped me realize that when I do meet her, my work will be able to speak for me. It will likely portray my crazy, passionate, emotional energy but that's ok because it will be mine. I left that day feeling so empowered and inspired - as has been my feeling any time I've encountered her interviews, tweets or her film work.

So what was the shoot? It was a promo for Apple Music and Chapter 1 debuted during last night's Emmy broadcast. Sidenote-considering her first project is a doc about hip hop, this all felt like I was watching a full circle moment...In case you missed it, here it is. What a perfect clip to reintro motivational music Monday! Also note if you go to Apple Music, you can see the commercial in more high quality.