Ava Duvernay did not win her first Oscar last night. Her documentary 13th lost to Ezra Edelman’s 6-hour “film” OJ: Made in America. I loved both docs but considering Edelman’s OJ was more of a docu-miniseries that maybe should have won some Emmys instead of an Oscar, I was pulling for Duvernay. 13th is an extraordinary piece of storytelling that stays with you for days. I remember sitting in silence for a solid 20 minutes after the film ended. I’ve watched it twice and each time, I was educated and appalled all over again. It’s necessary viewing. With 13th, Ava Duvernay used her talent to shed light on one of America’s darkest blemishes and last night, she used her platform, once again, to make a statement.
Now THIS is how you do #AskHerMore. Ava took her Oscar dress, something she knew everyone would mention in any piece they wrote about her today, and made it a political statement. I’d rather call it a “sign of solidarity” to use Ava’s words because empathy and tolerance for inclusion should not have to be political. On a night where we saw a lot of pins and ribbons as symbols of resistance, Ava took it to the next level by rocking a dress by Mohammed Ashi from Saudi Arabia and she looks STUNNING in it. The detail. The colour. The sleeves. She nailed it.
Two years ago, Ava Duvernay was shut out of the Best Director category. Selma, one of the best films of 2014 and yet, the 2015 Academy Awards largely ignored it. Ava has spoken openly about how hard it is to get the same respect as a female director that her male counterparts are given. In response, she has made a conscious effort to employ women directors. Last year, the second year of #OscarsSoWhite, Ava skipped the show to attend a benefit for Flint, Michigan. This is a woman who doesn’t just talk about the social justice she believes in, she walks the walk. She shows up and speaks up whenever she can. I was so disappointed we didn’t get to hear whatever she would have said if it was her up there, accepting an Oscar on behalf of this film. I was excited to see her speak especially since before she put on the pretty dress, she was repping another piece of apparel with an important message. I have no doubt that Ava Duvernay’s speech would have been one of the best of the night.