I stan for Ms. Ava DuVernay.
She picked up a camera when she was 32 and hasn’t looked back. Now, she’s got one of the dopest shows on television and has a remarkable catalogue of films. If you don’t follow her on the social medias, she’s just started on her next project about the Central Park Five. I know if she’s at the helm of this story, this is going to be monumental.
I’ve been following her for a long time and I love to here this woman speak. Search her name on YouTube and you’ll find pages of interviews and talks but the one that is resonating with me the most at the moment is the keynote she gave at SXSW a few years ago.
(The actual speech starts around the 4 min mark and is about 25 mins long. The rest is Q&A and acknowledgments.)
When I first listened to it, I examined my intentions in what I was doing and found that I didn’t really have any definite intentions in what I was doing. I was a freshman at a university that I ended up transferring out of and in a major that I wasn’t really invested in like that. I was already in the process of making up my mind to leave and change my major but hearing her words was really the kick in the pants that I needed.
If once is an incidence and two is a coincidence, then three’s a pattern… After that, you’re just ignoring the signs.
I’ve heard several people espouse the same idea: that focusing on a certain task/dream/goal, keeping your head down, and working towards that is how people like Ava, Oprah, Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, and everyone else I look up to, have been able to achieve the things that they’ve achieved. Lena didn’t set out to win an Emmy, Issa didn’t set out to have a hit HBO series, Oprah didn’t set out to be Oprah, and Ava didn’t set out to have one of the most live-tweeted shows since Scandal. In the same way, Beyonce didn’t set out to be Queen Bey and Michael Jackson didn’t set out to be the King of Pop. And you could say this of pretty much anyone who has made a lasting name and impact in the culture, be that in sports, entertainment, or academia.
All the titles and accolades are bestowed upon these people by outside entities for the work that they did on their own time, for their diligence, for their focus, for their attention to their intention of being the best singer, showrunner, actress, writer, etc. that they could be.
“It’s just a room… My work’s worth is not based in what happens in, around, for or about that room.” – Ava on The Oscars
I’d like to think I’m a bit more conscious of my intentions now. I know what I want to do and what I want out of this life. Now I must simply place one foot in front of the other in pursuit of these things. External accolades cannot be the reason I, or anyone, sets out to do anything… because none of that shit matters.
Even though 2018 is basically over, I’ve still got four months to make sure that 2019 is full of prosperity and growth. I’m going to continue focusing my attention but also being wary of what I focus on so as not to limit what I will eventually manifest. I’m serving my story.
Serve your own story and the world will open up.