Oprah Threw a House Party Just to Meet Ava DuVernay
"Selma" star David Oyelowo can take partial credit for bringing two great Hollywood women together. When he was filming Lee Daniels' "The Butler" with Oprah Winfrey, the actor gave her a DVD of an indie film called "Middle of Nowhere."
"He said, 'You have to watch my friend Ava's film,'" Winfrey remembers. She did, and she looked up DuVernay. "I knew immediately we were going to be friends," the media mogul told The Hollywood Reporter.
Winfrey began planning how she would meet DuVernay, director of the Oscar-nominated film "Selma." She then created an entire Mother's Day event at her house in Montecito, Calif., "just so I could talk to her," Winfrey said. While DuVernay admitted she was "weird and awkward" around Winfrey at first, the two have become great collaborators. Winfrey produced and co-stars in "Selma," and the pair are developing a dramatic series for OWN, "Queen Sugar."
Winfrey talks admiringly of Ava's ability to direct a film: "I saw the way everybody held her in the highest of esteem. There was such a high level of regard for her and what she was doing — to have that kind of … not control but mastery of the situation."
Ava agrees that "Selma" "was the first time I felt very much in command of my craft," she said. Her efforts have been recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director and an Oscar nom for Best Picture. But more valuable than any award, Ava has already won a wonderful mentor.
Winfrey knows how important powerful female mentors can be: she had a life-changing connection with the late Maya Angelou, and she brings Angelou's inspiration to her relationship with DuVernay.
"Every day I saw Ava working on set," she said, tearing up, "I felt, if only Maya were here today to see her, too."
Oprah talks more about the impact Maya Angelou had on her life: