Written by | Ray Cornelius

Oscar nominee and everyone’s favorite Barbie Doll—Ava DuVernay—helped ESSENCE present the “WOKE Women Awards” on this past Saturday morning. The 11 a.m. ceremony took place on the Empowerment Stage before a packed room of DuVernay’s family, friends and fans. The accomplished writer, director and “Queen Sugar” creator helped to recognize fellow activist Patrice Cullors, one of the three co-founders of the Black Lives Matter Movement. During the ceremony DuVernay described what the pop culture term #WOKE has really meant to her.

“It’s about being there for each other in our moment of need. [APPLAUSE] Maybe you’re not an activist in a sense of you’re out with Patrice and I, in marches, or you’re planning actions, or you’re writing your congressman, or you’re doing any of those things, but the wokeness of our community and what we have done throughout the generations to survive is to hold on to each other, to make sure that we’re okay.”

DuVernay also explained how the cast of “Queen Sugar” drove from their New Orleans  set to Montgomery, Alabama to be with her for the funeral of her father, Joseph DuVernay, Jr.  Unfortunately, he passed away shortly after she shot the first episode of the popular OWN series and she found herself in the same position as the characters she helped to create. For DuVernay, seeing their faces during such a difficult transition meant everything to her.

“I was in Montgomery, Alabama, which is where my father is from, where he lived, and I was at the funeral. And I look up and I saw, the cast of Queen Sugar. They drove from New Orleans to Montgomery, all of them. In their own cars figured out a way to get there but they were all there. I think Tina Lifford came from Los Angeles, people just came in. And that is Woke to me.”

DuVernay was very close to her father. Click here to read about him being the real inspiration behind her decision to direct “Selma.”

Up next for DuVernay is Disney’s film adaptation of the children’s classic, “A Wrinkle in Time.” It stars Oprah Winfrey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and André Holland. The film reportedly cost over $100 million to make and DuVernay is the first Black women to direct a movie with a budget of that size. Can’t wait to see it when it arrives in theaters on March 9, 2018.

Photo Credits: RayCornelius