If there's one woman beating the guys at their own game, it's director Ava DuVernay. The brains and passion behind 2014's award-winning "Selma" has taken Hollywood by storm ever since she became the first African-American woman to win Best Director at Sundance for her indie hit "Middle of Nowhere."
Saturday she stepped out to a standing ovation and hundreds of female bloggers cheering her on at the BlogHer15 Conference in New York. Flashing her signature smile, DuVernay sat down with founder and editor of Women and Hollywood Melissa Silverstein for a candid chat about overcoming obstacles, stepping into her greatness and taking what’s hers. Levo was there to hear her pearls of wisdom. Here are the highlights:
1. Learn from the "White guys."
"Too often, we live within their games, so why would you not study what works? Take away the bad stuff – because there's a lot – and use the savvy interesting stuff and figure out how they can apply. It's a good one for the ladies."
2. Don't ask for permission. Take what's yours.
"Women have been trained in our culture and society to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want. We've been really indoctrinated with this culture of permission. I think it’s true for women, and I think it’s true for people of color. It’s historic, and it's unfortunate and has somehow become part of our DNA. But that time has passed.”
3. Do you — and no one else.
"For me, [deciding whether or not to direct Marvel's "Black Panther"] was a process of trying to figure out, are these people I want to go to bed with? This is my art. This is what will live on after I'm gone. So it's important to me that [I] be true to who I was in this moment. And if there's too much compromise, it really wasn't going to be an Ava DuVernay film.'
4. Don't be afraid to try new things — like virtual reality filmmaking, in her case.
"If they have it over in the corner, then I want to do it, too."
5. Fulfill all of your dreams and interests.
"No one has all her eggs in one basket. Diversify, but stay true to your interests. If you really look at the people you admire, they don’t all do one thing. It's okay to do more than one thing as it relates to your own business. You don't have to choose."
Get to know more about DuVernay's story by watching her MAKERS video above.
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Photo Credit: Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW