*Before filmmaker Ava Duvernay became the 2012 darling of Sundance for her second feature film “Middle of Nowhere,” she was one of Hollywood’s most sought after publicists.
Her marketing and publicity firm The DuVernay Agency (later known as DVA Media + Marketing), specializing in the African American market, worked more than 100 film and television projects for a variety of filmmakers – from Steven Spielberg to Spike Lee. Some 15 years after launching the company, she has transitioned behind the camera and is currently in production on the Martin Luther King film “Selma,” which she took over after Lee Daniels had to bow out.
Signing onto the project doubled as an unbelievable full circle moment for the California native and UCLA grad.
“The funny thing that I have not told anyone is I had originally been hired to be the publicist for ‘Selma,” she told EURweb exclusively. “Selma” went into development back in 2010, and six directors were attached to the project before Daniels was eventually hired.
“I was going to be the publicist for Lee Daniels’ version of ‘Selma,’ she said again, smiling at the irony. “I was just looking at the contract and that paperwork the other day. So weird.”
DuVernay revealed this fun fact at the TCA summer press tour following her panel for PBS’ second round of “Makers,” featuring six new films centered on women: war, space, comedy, business, Hollywood, politics. DuVernay appears in the “Hollywood” film along with Geena Davis and Linda Wolverton (who wrote the screenplay for “Beauty and the Beast”).
After the panel, Ava told us she filmed her interview for “Makers” right after directing the November 2013, “Vermont is for Lovers, Too” episode of “Scandal”…
…and while she was doing rewrites on “Selma.”
“I wrote ‘Selma’ in like six weeks,” she said. “So right in there somewhere, I hopped off and did this [“Makers”] interview, which is really lovely because when you interview someone when they’re just off of projects you get good stuff. [Your answers are] not fully formed sound bytes yet – so I was just talking and talking.”
“Selma” follows a three-month period in Dr. King’s life during the landmark voting rights campaign. DuVernay again finds herself directing David Oyelowo, her “Middle of Nowhere” star who takes on the role as MLK in “Selma.”
Below, Ava also reveals for the first time how Oyelowo is the sole reason “Selma” producers – including Brad Pitt’s Plan B shingle and Oyelowo’s “The Butler” co-star Oprah Winfrey – even considered her to direct the King biopic.
“Selma” opens Christmas Day; the new season of “Makers” premieres Tuesdays, Sept. 30 – Nov. 4 on PBS.