Ava DuVernay fans, rejoice: This week brings news that Mattel has immortalized the “Selma” director with a Barbie in her likeness and that Paramount Pictures will be donating copies of DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated civil rights drama to every high school in America.
Mattel describes “Shero” Barbies, the collection the DuVernay doll is a part of, as “female heroes who inspire girls by breaking boundaries and expanding possibilities for women everywhere.” We couldn’t agree with this descriptor of DuVernay any more enthusiastically. DuVernay tweeted a photo of the figurine and shared that she used to play with Barbies “[f]or hours making stories [and] scenarios.”
Unfortunately, the Ava DuVernay Barbie isn’t for sale — there’s only one copy of each “Shero,” and those will be auctioned off to charity — but we’re holding out hope that Mattel will take notice of the excitement surrounding DuVernay’s doll and opt to mass-produce it. A generic filmmaker Barbie already exists, but we’d love to see a real-life woman director, especially one of color, represented in Barbie form. The next generation of girls and boys — and future Hollywood storytellers — spending hours making up stories and scenarios with Barbies should have the chance to be inspired by the first black woman to direct a Best Picture Oscar nominee.
“Selma” will be available on DVD May 5, and Paramount Pictures will celebrate the occasion by sending a copy of the film, along with study guides, to every high school in the US.
Said Duvernay, “Our ‘Selma’ filmmaking journey has had many highlights, but to me, the response from students and educators has been the most magnificent part of the experience. To think that this triumphant story of dignity and justice will be available to every high school in this country is a realization of many dreams and many hopes. I applaud Paramount on this extraordinary effort and salute the teachers who will provide classes and context on the work of Dr. King and his comrades to the young minds of our nation.”
Duvernay also spoke at the Women in The World summit earlier this week and brought up an important point about how difficult it is for women directors to gain — and maintain traction — in the industry, given Hollywood’s discriminatory practices and outlook. She commented, “As a woman who has made three narrative feature films and a handful of docs, we all have to start again from zero, every time, whereas my white male counterparts don’t have to start from zero every time. And so I think to be let in is to just know what you’re doing two years from now, because you know there’s going to be something else there. And for women filmmakers, that’s not the case.”
Fortunately, we have confirmation of a few projects DuVernay has in the works, including a Hurricane Katrina drama and an adaptation of Natalie Baszile’s novel “Queen Sugar” set to air on OWN.