The 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Outstanding Director's Award
Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF

It’s an undisputed fact that director Ava DuVernay is one of the hardest working women in Hollywood.

The Oscar-nominated filmmaker’s enviable resumé includes back-to-back projects with what seems like very little down time in between. DuVernay never stops and it’s partially because she feels like there’s not enough time.

“I feel, if I’m honest, that there’s a short window for me in the business. There’s no Black woman who’s had a 20-to-30-year consistent career in which she’s been free to make what she wants to make and has people wanting to finance that,” DuVernay said in the March issue of ESSENCE.

But that intensity and drive comes from another influence as well. Growing up, DuVernay watched her mother strive for better positions, moving up the ladder from bank teller to head of an HR department.

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This article originally appeared in Essence by Sydney Scott.